The Motivation of Temporary Workers

Background

It is an increasing reality in the labour sector that temporary workers abound. It is also a fact that agencies contracting out these temporary workers multiply to fill the need of companies or corporations which do not intend to hire workers for a long time. Moreover, by hiring temporary workers, companies or corporations are not bound to give the workers the benefits they would otherwise receive if they were regular employees. Since the temporary workers are not strictly considered employees of the customers, there is a void with regard to the treatment, benefits, welfare, motivation, etc. they have vis-à-vis the customers. For the purposes of this paper, companies which contract out temporary workers will be referred to as agencies while companies hiring temporary workers will be referred to as customers.

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Temporary workers render service for the customers, stay and spend the working time in their premises, and ultimately, seem to be the employees of the customers. In a sense, they do not have a relationship with the agency except that of contracting them out with the customers and receiving salary from them.

Despite the absence of a written contract, a psychological contract exists between the customer and the temporary workers. As a subjective concept, it affects the beliefs and behaviour of workers in the workplace with deep impact on the attitudes and well-being from the moment a worker is hired until separation (retirement, resignation) from service (Ozone 2006). As an implicit contract, it involves a worker’s perception of reciprocal exchange relating to trust, loyalty and well being of both parties (Ozone 2006). In Breaking the psychological contract, Bruce (n.d.) cited Ruscia’s (1997) concept of this contract as essentially a “set of economic and normative expectations” (para. 3) a worker perceived upon entering an organization. In the same paper, Bruce (n.d.) mentioned Feldheim (1999) who expounded that although established on trust, “it is a nebulous concept that parties come to accept as the basis of social relationships and social order” (para. 3).

IIPM (2002) reported that Argyris (1960) first used the concept, and explored further Levinson et al. (1962), Schein (1978; 1980), Rousseau (1989; 1995; 2000) and several others. It is an implied exchange relationship between the employer and the employees covering mutual expectations and obligation (IIPM 2002). As an unwritten set of expectations, it constantly changes and exceedingly flexible with undefined terms dependent on the perception of the individual (Ozone 2006). However, it determines behaviour in organisations and its violations can have long-time results (Ozone 2006).

To classify it, the concept is differentiated and categorised as being transactional (usually short-term, performance related with monetary exchanges such as temporary secretarial work) or relational (contracts based on emotional involvement and financial reward, long-term, involving a major investment on both employer and employee, exemplified by occupation requiring extensive training such as law) in nature (Ozone 2006). The various influences showed by this categorisation on employee attitudes determine the behaviour in the workplace (Ozone 2006). It has a great impact on worker behaviour in the workplace, morale, performance and desire to leave the job (IIPM 2002).

Generally, under this psychological contract, the employer respects and looks after the employee well being while the latter renders loyalty and trustworthiness, thus, enhancing productive behaviour and success of the organisation (Ozone 2006). According to Levinson et al (1962), the characteristics of this contract are: (a) mostly implicit and unspoken, and (b) they often antedate the relationship of the individual and company (IIPM 2002).

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According to Bruce (n.d.), the substance of the psychological contract are: a) employee expectation of fair compensation, b) employee expects respect and dignity from employer, c) employee expects consistent and just evaluations, d) employee expects an on-going employee-employer relationship that would at least reflect Barnard’s (1938) concept of “contractual-instrumental” model of work and reward for work, and e) employee expects continual employment in exchange for meritorious job performance.

This contract involves expectations and obligations which differ a lot from the formal job description (Psychological 2006). The obligations and expectations having huge impact on productivity and worker retention are: a) on worker’s expectations: 1) security, 2) financial rewards, 3) informal recognition from manager or employer, 4) promotion opportunities, and 5) flexible approach to the “work-life” balance with allowance to personal or family needs (time-off on emergencies); B) on worker’s obligations: 1) working to a certain level of performance, 2) perceived as subscribing to company “ethos”, 3) loyalty to business and co-workers, and 3) commitment in achievement of company goals (Psychological 2006).

Currently, companies have programmes geared towards improvement of workers’ performance. Company managers and supervisors, trained on motivational strategies and approaches, and knowledgeable in motivation theories, implement systems and procedures to improve productivity of employees. One of this strategy, aimed to motivate and understand employees, is the conduct of the annual appraisal interview to elicit information and valuable feedback from employees, discuss career development, and wherein the managers or supervisors and employees decide on the training needs that would support career development and enhancement of performance. This activity provides motivation to employees. However, in the annual appraisal conducted on temporary workers, they do not get the expected personality or performance assessment. Although there is an appraisal interview, there is no real communication between the manager/supervisor and temporary worker wherein the required input is undertaken or taken into consideration. As a result, these workers become frustrated instead of being motivated. At a glance, the classical motivation strategies do not work well and succeed in the special case of temporary workers under consideration.

This management project will study the psychological contracts existent in highly specialised and technical companies (e.g. engineering department) that hire temporary workers and the motivational approach and strategies the customers used to maintain workers’ well being. Taking into consideration the definition of psychological contract, the obligations and expectations of workers, and factors involved in the relationship between the temporary workers and customers, it will be determined how the customers motivate their workers. Moreover, to be included in the study is the determination whether a psychological contract exists between the agency (where temporary workers have a contract) and the temporary workers or whether the agency provides motivation to them. It will also be determined whether the classical motivational strategies of companies are effective in the work set-up to be studied. The relationship between the agency/customer and temporary workers will be studied to understand the factors that drive employees to perform better.

With the information gathered from this project, it will be determined the factors which motivate the workers, create a viable recommendation in order that the agency or customer can make effective systems to better understand the workers, new systems to motivate the workers, and plan a new appraisal system or modify existing ones.

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The motivational strategies, models and theories by scholars and theorist will be reviewed and applied wherever necessary in this special context of working relationship.

Methodology

This paper will use the questionnaire method in gathering information from respondents. The respondents will be taken randomly from among the different customers (companies receiving temporary workers from agencies) performing highly specialised functions. This researcher will not approach the customers themselves but directly to the temporary workers. Otherwise, a complication may result and a possibility of the research survey being obstructed by the customers. All companies falling under this category will be included without regard as to the number of workers employed.

A minimum of twenty respondents to a maximum of forty respondents will be utilised for this survey. This quantity will represent the segment of a specialised and technical profession (e.g. engineers) who work as temporary workers to customers. The respondents will be anonymously represented in the paper. In the same manner, the customers will remain anonymous. Both of them will be represented in alphanumeric characters (e.g. company A, respondent 1).

This will also involve the case study method wherein the quantity selected will represent the whole sector that belong to this category of workers. This paper will utilize secondary analysis method wherein the data and information compiled by other researches in the same field will be used. The data gathered will be analysed and presented graphically (figures, charts) to represent the responses. The social science methods will also be used to quantitatively evaluate the data.

Data Sources

The literature review will cover the previous works on the same or similar work environment and situation. Governmental publications, laws and regulations pertaining to this special work relationship shall be taken into consideration and evaluated. All possible sources of data will be included from written literature, internet sources to any form digital data (CD, ebook, etc.).

Primary information

  • Personal experience as temporary worker for five years in a similar environment.
  • Personal experience as an employee of an agency which contract out temporary worker.
  • Temporary workers who work in a highly specialised environment.
  • Knowledge gathered as a student of management.

Secondary information

Publications on personnel management. Buchanan, DA and Huczynski, A 2004, Organizational behaviour: An introductory text, 5th edn, Hertfordshire, Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

  • Government publications, laws and regulations.
  • Applicable common law.
  • Employment Rights Acts.
  • Applicable laws on temporary workers’ rights, benefits and other working conditions.

Publications on general management, business administration and marketing:

  • Brassington, F and Pettitt, S 2005, Essentials of marketing, Financial Times/Prentice Hall.   
  • Brown, S. et al. 2005, Strategic operations management, 2nd edn, Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Gill, R. 2006, Theory and practice of leadership, Sage Publications Ltd.
  • Grant, R M. 2005, Cases to accompany contemporary strategy analysis, 5th edn, Blackwell Publishing, Incorporated.
  • Grant, R M. 2005, Contemporary strategy analysis: Concepts, Techniques, Applications, 5th edn, Blackwell Publishing, Incorporated.
  • Roberts, P. 1995, Environmentally sustainable business: A local and regional perspective,  Sage Publications Ltd.
  • Saunders, MNK et al. 2003, Research methods for business students, 3rd edn, Prentice Hall.
  • SPSS software, 2007, SPSS Inc., Chicago.
  • Thompson, PB & McHugh, D 2002, Work organisations, 3rd edn, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Welford, R and Starkey, R (eds.) September 1996, The Earthscan Reader in “Business and the environment” (Earthscan Readers Series),  Earthscan.

Aspects of MBA Syllabus Used

The project will involve principles of Psychology as used in Business Administration, Business Administration Theoretical Models, Strategic Management, Economics and Accounting Principles, applicable Labour Laws, and the Social Science Quantitative Research evaluation.

Proposed Chapter Heandings and Sub-Heandings

Introduction

 Overview of the research.

Hypothesis

An appraisal interview conducted annually by the management with employees is aimed at personality assessment, career development and ultimately arriving at an appropriate motivational strategy from the exchange of information. This paper will assess the usefulness of the appraisal interview and whether it is able to provide the necessary motivation to temporary workers assigned by temporary employment agencies to work with customers in a highly specialised environment and whom such workers have no employment contract. Specifically, this research will focus on the following concerns to guide the researcher in gathering the data for this paper:

  1. Do temporary workers agencies and customers in this sector perform an annual appraisal interview with the workers?
  2. If they do conduct an appraisal interview, does it attain its objective of motivating the workers?
  3. Do temporary workers agencies or customers devise programmes and strategies after the interview geared towards workers’ motivation?
  4. What is the process used by the different agencies and workers during the appraisal interview?
  5. Do the workers view the appraisal interviews being done to have served its purpose and were being conducted to uplift their conditions?
  6. Whether the psychological contract between agencies/customers and workers meet the expectation of the workers?
  7. What are the overall effects of the appraisal interview to the temporary workers?

Objectives

This paper aims to gather data on the temporary workers’ appreciation and perception of the psychological contract they have with the customers they are currently working with. Basing on the information gathered, this researcher will provide an appraisal of the experiences of the temporary workers aimed at improving the agencies and customers’ motivational approach with regard to these workers. This paper also aims to determine whether a psychological contract exists among the customers to which these temporary workers work for and the agencies which contract them out. A recommendation will be provided on how to improve the motivational approach of the customers and agencies.

Literature Review

  1. Previous studies made similar or related to the current research.
  2. Theories on psychological contract.
  3. Theories and models on motivational approaches.
  4. Laws and issuances regulating work relations.

Data Sources

  1. Primary information.
  2. Secondary information.

Definition of Terms

  • Agency or Temporary Employment Agency.
  • Customer.
  • Temporary Workers, Temporary Agency Workers or Agency Workers.
  • Psychological Contract.
  • Other terms.

Research Methods

  1. Random sampling of workers from the sector.
  2. Use of survery questionnaire in data gathering.

Results

  1. Tabulation of survey results.
  2. Collation of data.
  3. Graphs and Tables.

Discussions

  1. Interpretation of data.
  2. Discussion on survey results.
  3. Graphs and Tables.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Bibliography

Work Programme and Timetable

The work programme covers the period from the preparation of the Management Proposal, its approval, administration of the questionnaire until the submission of the final draft. Literature review will start during the drafting of the proposal and will continue until the last week of July. This is essential as more information from the written literature can provide insights and inputs for this paper. The temporary workers who are the intended respondents of the survey will be contacted and informed of the rationale of the survey during the months of May and June. Questionnaire preparation and approval shall be done during the month of May. Administration of the questionnaires will cover the whole month of June. The filled questionnaires will be collected during the same month. Collation of data from the filled questionnaires already collected will begin on the third week of June and will last until the last week of July. Writing the first draft, editing and printing will be finished in July and will be submitted on the first week of August. Revision of the paper will be on the second week until the fourth week of August. The final paper will be printed and submitted on the first week of September.

The diagram

References

Bruce, W n.d. Breaking the psychological contract: An act of anti-ethics. University of Illinois at Springfield. 2007. Web.

IIPM 2002. Knowledge Centre. Web.

King, J 2003. PUBR 5301-201, Topics in Public Relations: Content analysis in Mass Communication. Department of Communication. East Tennessee State University. 2007. Web.

Ozone. The psychological contract. 2006. Web.

Psychological contract. 2006. Adelphi Associates. Web.

Qualitative Social Science Research Methodology. 2007. Web.

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