The freelance revolution?

A question that keeps popping up in the HR landscape is: 'How do we find the right talent?' When we narrow the scope to technical profiles in the ICT market, the War for Talent rages even stronger. In order to find solutions that can ensure that large number of vacancies are filled, it is important to take current trends into account. At Amandis we work daily on Talent Acquisition (more specifically in the ICT world) and in this blog we will expose links between the literature and our own candidate surveys.


Figuur 1: Flexing your workforce (Bron: Vlerick, 2021)
Figuur 1: Flexing your workforce (Bron: Vlerick, 2021)

Flexible working became the rule as a result of the corona pandemic. This flexibility has become a strategic asset that can ensure that companies can benefit from a broader talent pool. The white paper 'Flexing your Workforce' by Vlerick (2021) highlights four strategies to make the workforce more flexible. As shown in the figure, one solution is to start working with freelancers. By using gig workers or freelancers, a company can deal more flexibly with business needs.

The flexibility extends beyond our national borders and the Global Talent Pool must be taken into account. Globalization is driving companies to develop strategies for a flexible workforce. More and more vacancies are posted by companies outside of Belgium and, given the scarcity on the Belgian labor market, this has an impact. However, the reverse trend is also visible. A candidate we recently spoke to, indicated that the opportunity to work abroad as a freelancer has given him the courage to make the switch. It gave him the feeling that his risk is reduced. Digitization and globalization are, therefore, beneficial for freelancers.

Switch to freelancer

The standard full-time employment contracts of indefinite duration are being revised. A recent article by Statbel (2021) shows that a record number of people have a second job (5.4% of all workers in September 2021). According to experts, this could also be an effect of the corona pandemic. At Amandis, we also noted that the corona pandemic was not a barrier to making the switch, but rather was a facilitator. Of course there are several factors, but one of them is that people have started to reflect and look for more meaning from their career. A second job as a freelancer can allow them to express their creativity more.

Research by Antwerp Management School and SD Worx in 2018 showed that interesting job content (69%) and freedom in choosing the work you do (68%) were the main reasons for making the switch to freelancer. These were also the main arguments for our candidates. For example, one mentioned that he mainly gets energy from setting up new projects. In his permanent position, he was forced to a maintenance role after a large rollout, after which he had to wait another long period before a new project came along. Due to his new position as a freelancer, he has the feeling that he is no longer stuck and that he can determine his own direction more flexibly. Another candidate indicated that he felt guilty towards his employer when boredom set in and he wanted to look for a new challenge. The flexibility that a job as a freelancer offers and its impact on the work-life balance was also cited as a motive for taking the step.

Filip Baptist, CEO of Securex, mentioned in an interview with NEXTconomy (2021) that he sees a remarkable shift among young knowledge workers. According to him, this group of people first gained experience by job-hopping in order to gain self-knowledge. Today he notices that this generation often takes the leap by following this parallel course, i.e. they choose to take on a permanent assignment and to work as a freelancer two days a week.

Clear efficiency, but still some restraint…

Both our own experiences and research show that companies occasionally still hesitate to work with freelancers. Research by Antwerp Management School in collaboration with SD Worx shows that Belgian employers prefer permanent recruitment. Only 20% of the vacancies are filled by flexible workers. In our neighbouring countries, the Netherlands, France and Germany, as well as in the United Kingdom, there is already a much stronger focus on this. It is also noticeable that their freelancers work in the core of the organization and are not only seen as an option for peripheral tasks. Research shows that the motivations for working with freelancers are diverse. The main reason is flexibility (65%) and the second reason is that people with specific expertise are difficult to find on the labor market (63%) (AMS, 2021).

Since we know from our experience that the permanent recruitment of an IT profile can sometimes take several months, it is beneficial to reduce the urgency of the vacancy by temporarily hiring a freelancer. At Amandis, we therefore choose to offer both services in order to meet the needs of our customers.