Anticipatory Orientation in Temporary Employment and Employee Performance: A Qualitative Exploratory Study
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CitationÅkerblad Leena. (2017). Anticipatory Orientation in Temporary Employment and Employee Performance: A Qualitative Exploratory Study. Scandinavian Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2 (1) , 5. 10.16993/sjwop.21.
The aim of this qualitative inquiry is to offer novel insights on the individual and organisational consequences of temporary work, especially in relation to performance. This study examines how fixed-term employees engage, and are enabled to engage, in their day-to-day work activities under the conditions marked by limited time horizon and resulting anticipatory orientation. The data consist of 30 open-ended interviews with highly educated fixed-term employees. A thematic analysis of the data showed that the anticipatory orientation – a necessity for predicting the future and preparing for it at the cost of the present – related to performance in several ways. Employees were forced to slide elsewhere while simultaneously trying to perform, which was associated with feelings of restlessness and the need to regulate and hide emotions at the workplace. In addition, employees could experience detachment from work due to the soon-to-be-outsider position within the organisation. Especially in the context of serial fixed-term contracts and hope for permanent position, intensive efforts to earn a place by adjusting and appearing as ‘appropriate’ were present. Overall, the results imply that fixed-term working conditions may lead to a deterioration of one critical performance resource: a reasonable time horizon in harmony with the work requirements. Without this resource, employees may not be able to perform at a self-satisfactory level and thus are exposed to stress. In order to understand the consequences of non-permanent work, the role of temporality and the conditions of self-satisfactory performance should be acknowledged and further examined.