Friday, 24 March 2017

Clarity needed in training the ‘temps’: Agency staff’s greater risk of work-related disorders

an article by Brian Beal (affiliation not provided) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 25 Issue 2 (2017)


Research shows that the risk of work-related disorders is higher among temporary agency workers than among other employees. The purpose of this paper is to describe the working conditions of temporary agency workers and explains which factors contribute towards work-related disorders for this group.

This paper is based on a survey responded to by 482 agency workers in Sweden. The dependent variable is the prevalence of work-related disorders. Independent variables include personal characteristics, job characteristics, employment characteristics and temporary agency work characteristics.

The study indicates several risk factors: holding a position as a blue-collar worker; being assigned to more physically demanding work tasks and having fewer opportunities to learn new things than client organization employees; lacking training for work tasks; and lacking clarity regarding which work tasks to do during an assignment.

The theoretical implications of this study are related to the dual employment–management relationship in temporary agency work where the temporary work agency and client organization follow different logics. The logic in the employment relationship is to contract temporary agency workers out to client organizations; thus, there is no time for formal training. The logic in the management relationship lies in making temporary agency workers profitable as soon as possible, encouraging shortcuts in training and instruction; thus, temporary agency workers risk being left with a lack of clarity regarding what to do and how to do it.

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