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On-the-Job Nervous

Temporary staffers fuel insecurity among regular workers, research shows

Job security jitters are fueled by temporary workers.

That's what research by Mallika Banerjee, Pamela S. Tolbert and Thomas J. DiCiccio is showing.

Reliance on temporary workers – an increasingly popular recession strategy for employers -- can make regular employees feel threatened, according to the ILR School research.

The research is based on national data gathered from thousands of British workers.

Having temporary workers in their occupational group reduces standard workers' job satisfaction and organizational loyalty – attitudes that have been linked to increased absenteeism, turnover and other negative behaviors.

It follows that when the workplace is shared by temps and regular employees, the regular employees are less loyal, more dissatisfied with work and more insecure about their jobs, Tolbert said in an interview.

The limited-term employment arrangements have become an integral recession strategy for many firms, said Tolbert, professor and chair of ILR's Department of Organizational Behavior.

But, the strategy's effectiveness depends on worker reactions to temporary employment arrangements – both those employed on limited-term contracts and those who work alongside them.

The latter issue is addressed in research by Tolbert, ILR Ph.D. candidate Banerjee, and Diciccio, professor in ILR's Department of Social Statistics.

They used data from a national survey of employees in small to medium-sized British firms to examine how limited-term employees affect a variety of work attitudes among standard employees.

"Our analysis suggests that the presence of limited-contract employees has little effect on standard employees’ perceptions of work overload, but strongly, negatively affects perceived job security," Tolbert said.