As contract workers become a growing part of the workforce, addressing their satisfaction is becoming essential to improving worker productivity.
The country's slow climb out of the recession has been encouraging, but there are still some issues left to be addressed. Unemployment has reached its lowest levels since 2008, according to the newest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 7.3 percent. Some of those who lost their jobs are just getting back to work just as many new potential workers enter the labor force.
A Recovery Economy
Fortune explains that U.S. GDP growth in the second fiscal quarter was larger than expected, increasing at a rate of 2.5 percent. This outpaced initial reports of 1.7 percent, leaving many optimistic about what is to come. This is encouraging news for those who are still looking for a job, with temporary employment becoming an increasingly common workforce solution for the recovering economy.
This kind of labor solution offers companies a way to stay flexible. Because it has taken about 5 years for unemployment rates, often seen as a bellwether for economic growth on the whole, to reach previous lows, many businesses like the flexibility that contract work can afford. These operations can take on more workers as demands pick up, but do not need to commit labor costs to full-time workers if demands slow. The Democrat and Chronicle explains that many businesses are only two or three years off of needing to make difficult layoffs and do not want to have to go through such a process again.
The Right Solution?
This is one reason why contract workers have been in such high demand. The news source reports that the month of July saw nearly 30,000 of these kinds of workers employed in New York state alone, which is 21 percent higher than in July of 2008. However, not everyone is satisfied with these kinds of positions.
For example, the Democrat and Chronicle looks at the story of Marcus Hill, a contract worker, who is frustrated by the nature of his work, which can fluctuate between a full five day work week and no work at all. And he is not alone in his worker dissatisfaction.
Strong Management Needed
A recent report from Kelly Services indicates that much of the time, job dissatisfaction is linked to workers' relationships with managers. According to the company's Global Workforce Index, 61 percent of those surveyed feel that their direct manager has a significant impact on their job satisfaction or engagement.
"It is sometimes said that employees don't leave companies, they leave managers," said Kelly's Senior Vice President of U.S. Operation, Steve Armstrong. "Kelly's research shows that employees prefer to work for managers who clearly communicate with them and explain responsibilities, expectations and opportunities."
One of the major areas for improvement cited in the survey was better training opportunities, with 49 percent of respondents wishing to see improvements in this area.
Contract Work and Strong Management
These job satisfaction statistics are important when understood in the context of a contingent workforce. Many temporary workers are simply left to fend for themselves once they are placed at a worksite. This is because their staffing agency no longer is responsible for their performance after their placement, while the managers at the site are occupied with other operations.
This can lead to poor worker productivity. While it is not necessarily bad management, it is a lack of oversight that could negatively impact the worker's satisfaction and engagement. However, some companies offer performance-based flexible labor solutions that can address this issue. In these contexts, the staffing company providers on-site managers responsible for the contract workers and their training, thereby addressing the issues that arose in the survey.