Self-employment is losing its luster in France

July 6, 2019
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Self-employment is no longer popular in France: only 1 in 10 employees strongly consider becoming independent workers.

  • Falling 17 points, the percentage of French employees who would consider becoming freelancers or entrepreneurs decreased from 60% to 43% in one year.
  • More than half of employees (53%) are no longer interested in this type of work, compared to only 38% in 2018.
  • Not surprisingly, 16-24 year olds are the most interested in freelancing (61%).
  • 1 in 4 French workers intend to stay with their current employer until the end of their career.

According to a new study by ADP (Automatic Data Processing), the pioneer and world leader in human capital management solutions, the craze for freelance or entrepreneurial work is blurring across Europe, resulting in an 11 percentage point decrease (26% in 2017 versus 15% in 2019) in those that strongly consider the independent lifestyle. In France, the figure reaches only 11% this year against 18% in 2018. In addition, a greater number of French workers say they are not interested at all in becoming independent: more than half (53%), compared to 38% in 2018.

This ADP study, The Workforce View in Europe 2019, surveyed more than 10,500 employees across Europe, including 1,410 French. In previous editions, freelance or freelance work was becoming increasingly popular, driven by the desire for more flexibility, all favored by new technologies that made remote operations much simpler than in the past. However, this year's results indicate that the wind is turning and that assets tend to fall back on the security offered by permanent contracts.

Self-employment remains more popular in some countries than in others: more than two-thirds of Italian workers (68%) show an interest in freelance work or are already self-employed. This country is closely followed by the British and Poles (62%). On the other hand, only 44% of Germans and 41% of Dutch employees share this interest in self-employment. In France, the number is 47%.

"Freelance work can offer some professionals a very attractive lifestyle but, like any career choice, it is not suitable for everyone," explains Carlos Fontelas de Carvalho, President of ADP France and Switzerland. "In recent years, a large number of employees have opted for self-employment, attracted by the freedom, flexibility and mastery of their professional future and, as our study shows, some would seem to return."

On the generational side, it is no surprise that 16-24 year-olds are the most interested in freelance work or self-entrepreneurship (61%). Their elders over 45 are half as many. Moreover, it is also not surprising to note that arts, culture and computer professionals are most interested in working for themselves (6 out of 10 employees).

The study also shows a slight increase in "jobs for life": just over a quarter (27%) of French planners to stay in their organization until the end of their career, an increase of 7 points compared to last year. On average, employees feel that they will stay with their employer for five years.

"We seem to have reached the peak of independence, at least for now, and employees seem to favor the benefits of a secure, permanent position. At the same time, many of them are wondering what they are really working for and are seeking to achieve a better work-life balance, something companies are increasingly responding to by introducing new measures. Many of them are studying flexible ways of working to provide a better way of working that allows their employees to enjoy a more personalized experience," de Carvalho concludes.

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July 6, 2019

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