Free agent (business)

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In business, a free agent refers to someone who works independently for oneself, rather than for a single employer.[1] These include self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors and temporary workers, who altogether represent about 44 percent of the U.S. labor force. The term free agent is believed to have been coined by Daniel H. Pink, author of a 1997 cover story in Fast Company titled “Free Agent Nation.”[2] In 2001 Pink published a book with the same name. The combination of several workplace trends – including shortened job cycles, the increase of project work, the acceptance of a new lifestyle and the emergence of the Internet and other technology – points to free agent workers becoming more of an employment norm in the coming years. In a 2011 survey sponsored by Kelly Services, a global workforce solutions company, free agency is on the rise across all generations, with mature workers making up two-thirds of the free agent population. The survey also revealed that 73% of free agents voluntarily choose this workstyle because they seek the freedom, flexibility and entrepreneurial benefits associated with an independent workstyle.[3]

Effects on Employers[edit]

According to Pink and his peers, the free agent trend has measurably benefited numerous U.S. companies. Kinko’s, now FedEx Kinko's, restructured itself in 1992 in response to the free agent trend, resulting in a $214 million investment less than four years later by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.[4] Kelly Services devotes a section of its U.S. web site to free agents and in 2006 hired actor Efren Ramirez to star in a series of podcasts describing free agency.

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