Temporary agency work and HRM in Australia: "cooperation, specialisation and satisfaction for the good of all"?

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the management of agency workers in Australia and, in particular, to identify the challenges presented to HRM by agency work. Design/methodology/approach - After briefly reviewing the data on the incidence and growth of agency work in Australia, this paper examines the role of agency work in Australia from the perspective of the industry. Then it reviews both the evidence concerning the reasons for client organisations using agency workers and the attitudes of agency workers to their work. The paper concludes by assessing the implications of these findings for both for HR managers and HRM in general. Findings - When the attitudes and preferences of agency workers are compared with those of direct employees it is found that agency workers are no more satisfied with their level of flexibility than direct workers and are in fact less satisfied with their job security, skill utilization and development, pay, autonomy and influence at work. Given these findings, it is argued that agency work may be incompatible with HR strategies that are based on high performance work practices. Originality/value - This article gives helpful advice to HR managers in any organization that are in the market for agency workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-174
Number of pages17
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Contract workers
  • Human resource management
  • Job satisfaction
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Temporary workers

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