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Improving the well-being and career outcomes of temporary agency workers: A two-perspective examination of employability-enhancing practices

English title Improving the well-being and career outcomes of temporary agency workers: A two-perspective examination of employability-enhancing practices
Applicant Staffelbach Bruno
Number 163173
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Universität Luzern
Institution of higher education University of Lucerne - LU
Main discipline Science of management
Start/End 01.03.2016 - 30.04.2018
Approved amount 110'020.00
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Keywords (6)

Human Resource Management; Temporary agency work; Well-being; Career support; Labour market outcomes; non-standard work

Lay Summary (German)

Temporärabeit geht oft mit unsicheren Beschäftigungsaussichten einher, dennoch nimmt die Zahl der temporären Angestellten zu. Mit dem Ziel der Beschäftigungsunsicherheit etwas entgegenzusetzen, erforscht das Projekt Massnahmen des Personalmanagements mittels welchen die Arbeitsmarktfähigkeit der temporären Angestellten wirksam erhöht werden kann.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Projektes

Temporärarbeit gewinnt weltweit zunehmend an wirtschaftlicher Relevanz. Für die Angestellten bedeutet Temporärabeit jedoch oft erhöhte Beschäftigungsunsicherheit und eingeschränkte Weiterentwicklungsmöglichkeiten. Zwar ist davon auszugehen, dass für temporär Angestellte die Arbeitsmarktfähigkeit die Beschäftigungssicherheit zu kompensieren vermag, die Frage nach effektiven Mitteln zur Stärkung der Arbeitsmarktfähigkeit blieb jedoch bislang offen. Daher identifiziert und prüft das vorliegende Projekt Praktiken des Personalmanagements zur Steigerung der Arbeitsfähigkeit von temporären Angestellten. In die Analyse fliessen einerseits die Auswirkungen der Praktiken auf die allgemeine Zufriedenheit und Gesundheit der temporär Angestellten ein. Andererseits werden die Folgen der Praktiken auf die Beschäftigungsentscheide potentieller Arbeitgeber erfasst.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Aus den Erkenntnissen des Projektes lassen sich Handlungsempfehlungen zum effektiven und nachhaltigen Personalmanagement sowie zur Steigerung der Arbeitsmarktfähigkeit von temporären Angestellten ableiten. Zudem leistet das Projekt einen Forschungsbeitrag, indem es mittels rigorosen Methoden gängige Wirkungsmechanismen hinsichtlich untypischer Beschäftigungsverhältnisse hinterfragt und die Signalwirkung von Temporärarbeit auf dem Arbeitsmarkt untersucht.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.10.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Nele De Cuyper, University of Leuven Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Alessandra Lazazzara, University of Milan Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
ZGP/HR-Swiss Switzerland (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
19th EAWOP Congress Talk given at a conference Getting what they have asked for: Testing a proactivity intervention among temporary agency workers 29.05.2019 Turino, Italy Morf Manuela Christina;
2017 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management Talk given at a conference Volition of temporary agency workers as a predictor for agency commitment: What is the role of agency support? 08.08.2017 Atlanta, United States of America Morf Manuela Christina; Sender Anna;


Title Date Place

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Leiharbeit wird immer beliebter Panorama German-speaking Switzerland 2016


Temporary agency work gains in economic importance because it increases flexibility and thus allows organizations to better adapt to fast-changing market demands. Despite its growing economic importance, temporary agency work is associated with various stressors (e.g., occupation insecurity) that might unfavorably affect well-being of temporary employees (temps). Yet, issues related to the support of temps cannot be fully addressed with existing knowledge grounded in research on standard employment. In addition, although temporary work is considered as a stepping stone to permanent work, temps often belong to disadvantaged work groups (i.e., employees with little work experience, migration background and low education). Despite this, little is known about how the labor market perceives temporary agency work and which Human Resource Management (HRM) measures positively influence these perceptions. By examining HRM measures that target temps’ employability and career prospects and are institutionalized in agencies (e.g., career advice), our research contributes to the growing research on temps’ career support and well-being. Thus far, support mechanisms in work settings in which agencies and clients share employer roles are not fully understood. Little research exists on the relation of temps’ perceived organizational support and commitment towards the agency and its client. Specifically, what kind of HRM practices temps might perceive as supportive and how these practices affect temps’ functioning (i.e., well-being) has not been addressed. Moreover, to-date research tends to use cross sectional data not allowing for detection of causality. Thus, in an intervention study we extend previous research by exploring the impact of agency-institutionalized HRM practices on temps’ well-being. Our project also seeks to identify factors that influence how labor market perceives temporary agency work. The goal is to address research questions which have not been tackled to date: how recruiters perceive temps, compared to temporary employees, in hiring and salary decisions? Can training, letter of reference and length of temporary assignment influence these perceptions? Thus, overall goal of the project is to enrich and inform the current debate on supporting measures which allow temps to remain healthy and active in the workforce. We will conduct two studies. Study 1 addresses the question on how agency-institutionalized HRM practices contribute to temps’ well-being. It contains two sub-studies, a two wave (Study 1a) and an intervention study (Study 1b) among temps employed at a large agency in Switzerland. Whereas Study 1a allows to collect data form a larger sample and to examine a number of HRM practices, Study 1b assesses the effectiveness of a single HRM practice (e.g., training) and allows a more rigorous test for causality. In addition, Study 2 examines how labor market perceives temporary agency work and aspects (e.g., training) that influence this perception. Study 2 is a between subject, web-based experimental study among recruiters. Because of its experimental nature and the sample of real decision makers, such an approach allows for detection of causality and ensures external validity.In addition to addressing relevant research gaps, our research provides insights to develop practical guidance on how agencies can improve and influence temps’ well-being and thus their productivity. Because well-being translates to performance, client organizations may also benefit from supportive HRM practices of agencies. Temps might use the generated knowledge to make better decisions on measures they undertake to increase their employability. Finally, given that it is the society that bears the costs of missed labor market integration and unfavorable well-being outcomes, policy makers should be interested in factors that improve labor market outcomes and well-being of temps. Taken together, we use an integrative, multi-perspective approach to consider the temps, the agencies, the agencies’ clients, and society as beneficiaries of our research and cooperate with partners from practices to disseminate our findings.