Workplace Culture

Report Dont Ostracize Temp Employees

By Staff Report

May. 10, 2010

Traditionally hired employees are less satisfied with co-workers and bosses when working with larger proportions of temporary workers, research from the University of Arizona found. However, companies can help fix the situation by not treating temps as a separate workforce.

“Using temporary workers can be a good thing for organizations,” said Joseph Broschak, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. “But managers must think carefully about how they manage nonstandard work arrangements, such as temporary and contract work. Treating the population of nonstandard employees as a separate workforce can have unintended consequences for everyone.”

Broschak, along with Alison Davis-Blake of the University of Minnesota, studied the issue in a recent paper. The University of Arizona reported on the findings last week as the U.S. continues to add temp jobs.

Why are traditionally hired workers less satisfied?

“First, in many organizations the task of training and socializing temporary workers on company-specific processes is often delegated to full-time workers,” Broschak said. “Having more temporary co-workers makes full-time workers’ jobs more complicated, since they are always training new people. Second, regularly helping temporary workers can get in the way of full-time employees completing their work. Further, in the minds of full-time employees their jobs have diminished status when temporary workers occupy similar jobs.”

The effect is particularly strong among people at lower levels of an organization where traditionally hired and temporary workers are most similar.

Employers can improve the situation by encouraging social interaction among all workers and including temps in thinks such as formal and informal departmental lunches and holiday parties, according to the research.

“Allowing workers who are employed under different work arrangements to develop social ties at work is a key to developing a cohesive and well-functioning workforce,” Broschak said.

Another paper, published in 2008, by Broschak, Davis-Blake and Emily Block of Notre Dame University found that voluntary part-time workers tended to be more positive and temporary workers more negative about their work arrangements compared with standard workers. However, temporary workers who had opportunities to transition to standard employment had better attitudes and were better performers than their peers in standard work arrangements.

“Temporary workers want to work hard and want to fit in when they see a job as an avenue to getting ahead,” Broschak said. “This can be a real plus to organizations that use this as a method of finding standard workers.”  

Filed by Staffing Industry Analysts, a sister company of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail


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