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Exploring Stress and Gender Diversity in Temporary Agency Working: A Mixed Method Design. The “Temp” Workforce. An ‘alternative’ or ‘non-standard’ way of working Stigmatisation? Little existing research in UK Much more research in Scandinavian countries and in USA

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the temp workforce
The “Temp” Workforce
  • An ‘alternative’ or ‘non-standard’ way of working
  • Stigmatisation?
  • Little existing research in UK
  • Much more research in Scandinavian countries and in USA
  • Focus on detrimental job characteristics
  • Research gap
well being and health at work
Well-being and Health at Work
  • Important factor for both organisational and individual outcomes
  • Many different manifestations: physical, psychological.
  • Concept of ‘well-being’ related to a number of factors – psychological health, satisfaction etc
health and the temporary workforce
Health and the Temporary Workforce
  • Existing research is split between two arguments
  • Isaksson and Bellagh (2002) – health of temps related to their perceptions about the job. Few benefits = worse psychological health
  • Benevides et al (2000) – temps have fewer health problems as escape the stress of organisational politics
health continued
Health continued…
  • Many different workplace characteristics shown to impact upon health of temporary workers
  • Length of contract (Aronsson et al, 2000)
  • Contract Preference (Ellingson et al, 1998; Isaksson and Bellagh, 2002)
  • Efforts vs. Rewards (Siegrist, 1998)
the gender issue
The Gender Issue
  • Temps mainly female
  • More males undertaking stereotypically female roles as a result of down-sizing etc
  • How do male and female temps’ experiences of temporary work differ? Does this impact on health?
  • How do temporary workers’ experiences relate to gender diversity theory?
the gender dichotomy
The Gender Dichotomy
  • Do males or females fare better in temporary employment?
  • Cockburn (1985) – men working in women’s roles undergo negative perceptions and experiences
  • Hicks-Clarke and Iles (2003) – male self belief mean they will have more opportunities to advance and have more positive experiences
methodology
Methodology
  • Aim – to investigate the impact of job characteristics on male and female temporary workers’ experiences and assess the link to psychological health.
  • Structured Questionnaire Methodology: demographics, job characteristics, health.
participants
Participants
  • Recruited from employment agencies
  • Questionnaire sent by post to temps’ home address
  • Anonymous and confidential
  • Sent to 286 temporary workers
  • Response rate 36%, n=103.
results
Results
  • GHQ Total for whole sample – above threshold for norms suggestive of psychological disturbance.
  • Females scored higher than males (statistically significant).
  • Satisfaction with certain job characteristics differed dependent upon gender (learning, perceived org support, job security).
  • Hierarchical multiple regression for whole sample found that job characteristics that affected health were: job security, pay satisfaction and learning.
  • Female temps = perceived organisational support was an important predictor of health.
model of findings
Model of Findings

Temporary Workers

  • More satisfaction and
  • Treatment from others
  • More Organisational
  • Support
  • More Satisfied with
  • Job Security
  • Less Training
  • Less Learning
  • Less satisfaction and treatment from others
  • LessOrganisational Support
  • Less satisfied with Job Security
  • More training
  • More Learning

Males

Females

Poor Psychological Health

discussion
Discussion
  • Temporary work appears to have a negative impact on psychological health
  • This relates to a number of important job characteristics. Poor benefits = reduced psychological health.
  • Preliminary findings suggest gender differences in predictors of health in relation to work
the phd study
The PhD Study
  • 3 stage sequential mixed methodology
  • Aims = to greater explore the challenges faced by male and female temps
  • Issue of Occupational Stress = broaden from wellbeing/ghq.
theoretical frameworks
Theoretical Frameworks
  • Diversity as a Theoretical Framework1: stats to suggest certain individuals are clustered into this way of working, often involuntarily (young, women, ethnic minorities – TUC, 2006).
  • Occupational Stress as a Theoretical Framework2: Many of the individual characteristics addressed by existing research have links to theories in organisational stress (Cooper and Cartwright, 2001; Sulsky and Smith, 2007), yet it appears no research has addressed the full picture of stress for the temporary clerical agency workforce.
slide17

TEMPORARY WORKERS

Poor satisfaction

Poor Job Security

Few Opportunities for CareerProgression

Other lack of benefits

Male and female temps.

Inequality/

statistical/

demographic information

Differences inOpportunities for Career progression

Gender Diversity

TEMPORARY WORKERS

Related to lack of benefits

Individual and Organisational outcomes

Indicator of Psychological Health

The research aims are:

“to explore the stressors experienced by the temporary workforce and investigate gender diversity as a factor in increasing or decreasing stressors and stress outcomes for male and female temporary workers”

Stress

slide18

The Subject Group:

The Temporary Clerical Agency Workforce

Theoretical Framework 1:

Occupational Stress

Theoretical Framework 2:

Gender Diversity Theory

Research Output:

An understanding of the stress experiences for male and female temporary clerical agency workers

stage one qualitative interviews
Stage One: Qualitative Interviews
  • Empirical Standpoint: exploratory, unearthing experiences, exploring possible stressors and complexities
  • Semi-structured qualitative interviews. Questions constructed from review of literature and previous study.
  • Sample size n = 50 temp workers within an office environment ( male = 25, female = 25)
  • Sourced through a number of avenues: 4 host organisations, 1 recruitment agency.
  • Working in a number of different industry sectors, both public and private.
stage one qualitative interviews21
Stage One: Qualitative Interviews
  • Other information: 10 item likert scale questions for preliminary quantitative info based on areas of lit review.
results22
Results
  • Male and female temporary workers face a number of challenges
  • Much dissatisfaction with working as temporary workers
  • Evidence that this does impact on psychological health and stress outcomes
  • A number of pertinent stressors emerge from the qualitative data.
emergent themes
Emergent Themes
  • 1) Harassment/Bullying
  • 2) Lack of Variety in Workload
  • 3) No opportunities for progression
  • 4) Financial Pressures, often have to take on another job
  • 5) Poor relationship with recruitment agency staff
  • 6) Not listened to/appreciated
linking to stress the evidence
Linking to Stress: The Evidence

Financial Responsibilities

  • “At one point I had two jobs, this one and a night job in the pub, just so I could pay the rent. I never knew when this one could end so I had to have something else more secure aswell. It was awful, I was a monster as I was so tired and just snapped at everyone the whole time”
linking to stress the evidence25
Linking to Stress: The Evidence

Workload Issues and Treatment from Others

  • “I am constantly feeling stressed, angry and frustrated. I am given nothing interesting to do and no one cares about me at work. Its as though this is how I should be treated because I’m temporary. Its like a secret code: as soon as people realise I’m a temp they stop making an effort to talk to me”
linking to stress the evidence26
Linking to Stress: The Evidence

Relationship with Agency

  • “I didn’t have a ‘employee-employer’ relationship with the recruitment agency. It was more like a ‘customer – sales’ relationship. I was the service they used to make money for themselves”
linking to stress the evidence27
Linking to Stress: The Evidence

Harassment

  • “ It was just banter really, but looking at your definition [of sexual harassment] I suppose some of those things might be true. No one meant it though, it was a laugh for them and I knew it was a joke…but I still felt uncomfortable”
individual factors 1
Individual Factors 1
  • Evidence that individual factors play an important role in how experiences affect stress and well-being, possibly related to personality traits;

“As far as I’m concerned I know I’m here to do a boring job, and that’s fine by me. It’s what I was expecting”

Compared to

“I knew this job was going to be awful but I wasn’t prepared for how annoyed and stressed it would make me and how much I wish I could find something – anything – else.”

results stage 2 longitudinal audio diaries
Results Stage 2: Longitudinal Audio Diaries
  • The sampling framework using age and gender as a way of selecting a wide variety of circumstances was useful
  • Results highlighted a number of pertinent issues linked to stress that were not uncovered in the interviews
  • Namely: periods of unemployment/gaps between assignment, ongoing communication difficulties about assignment length, the temp as a ‘secret-keeper’, the difficulty in seeking other work whilst employed as a temp.
results stage 2 longitudinal audio diaries30
Results Stage 2: Longitudinal Audio Diaries
  • Analysed in idiographic case study format
  • Data = rich and detailed
  • Challenging to summarise
  • 2 main themes from findings =
  • Emergence of ‘new’ stressors
  • Emergence of complexities between demographic criteria and experiences
learning outcomes methodology and theory
Learning Outcomes – Methodology and Theory
  • Stress within the clerical temporary workforce appears to be extremely complex. Associated gender differences are difficult to quantify from such enquiry, although they appear to exist.
  • Qualitative data appears to unearth some of these complexities and apply a framework
  • However, quantitative enquiry needed to help to model and create conclusive theory in this domain.
  • Next stage of the research process = large scale quantitative adjusted ASSET questionnaire utilising new items from qualitative results
research stage 3 quantitative questionnaire
Research Stage 3: Quantitative Questionnaire
  • Offer validation to emergent themes in stages one and two, via large sample size to enable statistical comparison between males and females
  • Quantify stressors and stress outcomes as a function of gender
  • Asset Questionnaire (Faragher, Cooper and Cartwright, 2004)
supplementing asset
Supplementing Asset
  • Additional scales/items derived from emergent themes from qualitative stages:
  • Adjustment
  • Overqualification/Under-employment
  • Perceived Organisational Support
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Contract Preference
  • Relationship with Agency
  • Secret Keeping
  • Conflict with Other Employment Seeking
questionnaire core findings
Questionnaire: Core Findings
  • Stressors = high exposure on all Asset subscales, apart from work-life balance
  • Distinct gender differences apparent
  • Surprisingly, good psychological and physical health
  • Commitment (from ind to org, and org to ind) perceived as very low
  • Intentions to quit high
confirmed gender differences
Confirmed Gender Differences

Stressors where males have higher exposure

Work Relationships

Overload

Job Security

Adjustment

Bullying

Sexual Harassment

Stress Experience

Stressors where females have higher exposure.

Work-life Balance

Aspects of the Job

slide38

Significant Predictors for the Whole Sample

Significant Predictors for Males

Significant Predictors for Females

Test Set1: Predicting Physical Health

None

None

Discrimination

Sexual Harassment

Pay and Benefits

Assignment Duration Expectations

Test Set 2: Predicting Psychological Health

Intentions to Quit

Agency Effort

Martial Status

Assignment Duration Expectations

None

Intentions to Quit

Test Set 3: Predicting Individual Commitment

Job Security

Pay and Benefits

Contract Preference

Stress Experience

Job Security

Perceived Overqualification/ Underemployment

Number of Children

Job Security

Perceived Overqualification/ Underemployment

Test Set 4:Predicting Perceived Organisational Commitment

Job Security

Pay and Benefits

Secret Keeping

Perceived Overqualification/ Underemployment

Work-life Balance

Control

Aspects of the Job

Pay and Benefits

Test Set 5:Predicting Intention to Quit

Gender Discrimination

Individual Commitment

None

Discrimination

Gender Discrimination

Perceived Organisational Support

discussion39
Discussion
  • Exposure to stressors high in temps
  • Male temps fare worse re exposure to stressors
  • Serious negative impacts on commitment and intentions to quit
  • Health positive = appraisal/coping strategy
  • Individual differences = person-environment fit (Cooper and Edwards, 1996)
  • Core implications for individuals, employment agencies and organisations
best practice
Best Practice
  • Appropriate selection re- matching
  • Culture that is accepting and value organisational importance of temps
  • Induction procedures
  • Training for managers and employment agencies
  • Managing diversity and challenging stereotypes and stigma
further research
Further Research
  • Development of stress audit tool for alternative forms of working
  • Development of selection tools and training aids
  • Evaluation of interventions
  • Address other forms of temporary working