Workplace stress and temping

Image by Au Kirk, Flickr

Image by Au Kirk, Flickr

Research reported by the British Sociological Association shows that people suffering higher than average workplace stress were more likely to leave their permanent jobs to take up temporary work than their less-stressed colleagues. This will not surprise AS students, who would rightly want to know whether the researchers took workload and control into account in their study.

More interestingly, the study (using data collected from 69,000 British people from 1991-2009) also found that the move from permanent to temporary work (or casual or seasonal work) did not tend to reduce these people’s feelings of anxiety and distress.

In fact, those who switched from permanent to temporary employment were 76% more likely to be suffering from increased levels of anxiety a year after their move than people who had stayed in permanent work.

Schaubroeck’s (2001) study showed that some people found low levels of control (characteristic of temporary, seasonal and casual work) were less stressful than the responsibility often associated with high levels of control. Perhaps this study shows the other side of the coin: for the majority of ‘downsizers’, swapping a permanent job for a temporary one does nothing to reduce feelings of distress, putting people in a situation where they have even less control plus greatly reduced job security?