Alternative employment and well-being : Contract heterogeneity and differences among individuals

Abstract: The increasing use of temporary and part-time employment in recent decades was initially expected to lead to negative effects for the individual. The empirical evidence, however, has been equivocal and the consequences are therefore still unclear. This thesis adopts a psychological approach to alternative employment by investigating how heterogeneity in employment contracts together with individual differences associate with work attitudes and subjective well-being. It comprises four studies in which questionnaire data is used to study differences among temporary workers (Study I & II) and differences in the alternative workforce (fixed-term, on-call, and part-time workers) compared to permanent full-time workers (Study III & IV), in order to analyze the impact of different types of contracts together with individual differences. Study I found that attitudes, role stress, and health varied across different patterns in individuals’ backgrounds and contract forms. Study II demonstrated that distinct patterns of voluntary and involuntary contract motives and of work involvement associated with differences in reported work-related and general well-being. Study III showed that well-being and organizational attitudes were related to individuals’ job and contract preferences and, to some degree, heterogeneity in contract types. Study IV revealed that individuals’ perceptions of job conditions (control, demands, and job insecurity) predicted well-being, whereas type of employment contract was found to be less important. Employment contract forms, however, interacted with individual diversity in Study III and IV. The thesis concludes that differences among individuals are important for understanding the implications of different types of alternative employment contracts. Future research should focus on these interactive mechanisms to better understand the consequences of alternative employment forms.