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Eller College Home > Our Stories > Governance and Social Responsibility > Temp Workers are Nonstandard

Our Stories

Governance and Social Responsibility : Temp Workers are Nonstandard, Not Substandard

July 2010

By Liz Warren-Pederson

Management and organizations associate professor Joseph Broschak warns managers of unintended consequences of treating temps like a separate workforce.

As the economy begins its slow recovery, firms continue to turn to part-time and temporary workers to bridge the productivity gap. But management’s treatment of these workers could have unintended consequences for a firm’s full-time employees, according to research by associate professor of management and organizations Joseph Broschak.

“Using temporary workers can be a good thing for organizations,” said Broschak. “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 and Alison Davis-Blake of the University of Minnesota studied the issue in two recent papers, one of which was a finalist for the Academy of Management Journal’s best paper award in 2007.

“More and more organizations are using nonstandard employees — temporary or part-time workers — alongside their full-time staff,” Broschak explains. “The questions we were interested in were what happened to full-time people who worked with nonstandard coworkers? Does the composition of the workgroup matter?”

It does. Broschak and Davis-Blake discovered that full-time employees in workgroups with larger proportions of temporary workers were less satisfied with their colleagues and supervisors. “This happens for a few reasons,” Broschak said. “One, in many organizations the task of training and socializing temporary workers on company-specific processes is often delegated to full-time workers. Having more temporary coworkers makes full-time workers’ jobs more complicated, since they are always training new people. Two, 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.”

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