This that if I turn around to them and

This therefore also implies that job security can impact
behaviour and motivation in the workplace, and permanent employment seems to
have influenced the participant’s attitude towards their work and commitment to
coming in. Furthermore, participants demonstrated preference for more secure
roles as these offer more stability and financial security, although one
participant identified the potential appeal of zero-hour contracts to students:

Lines 817-820: because I would want security where I work, so I know I’ve got a
set amount of money coming this week or this month as opposed to ’em, when will
I be working now?’ cuz obviously if you don’t study, I;ve got no other
prospects, then you’ve gotta have security, that’s the main thing, so I would
only.. I would change it if I wasn’t a student but as I’m a student, I’m happy
to keep it going 

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Further lack of job security was revealed when participants
were asked about employer’s flexibility with their employees’ commitments
outside of work:

Lines: 68-70 no but I am not forced to go, but it’s just that if I turn around
to them and tell them ‘Oh I can’t work at this event because I am at
university’ then they’d probably see me as unreliable then won’t ask me to work
on a job again   — fear of not given
further shifts, unstable work patterns and lack of job security

Participants were therefore offered limited employment opportunities.
Their zero-hour contract offered unstable working patterns and lack of job
security. The above response also links to the previous theme of flexibility in
this type of work, as the participant revealed that full flexibility was
expected of them as an employee on a zero-hour contract, however turning down
of shifts lead to fear of not given further work, thus in this case flexibility
was only expected of them and therefore not the employer. It is important to
note that such contracts do not discriminate between individuals who have not
committed to previous shifts, therefore employers’ attitude towards zero-hour
employees might differ to those of permanent staff. Furthermore, job security
was also highlighted with regards to participants’ parental commitments and
uncertainty over employment and a sense of being easily replaced should they
not commit to the work they were given:

Lines 865-866: ‘0-hour member of staff it’s like an attitude of ‘I have this
work for you to do. If you’re capable of doing it, do it, if not I can get
someone else to replace you’. If I didn’t have children… I still don’t think
I could work in a 0-hour contract because with my personality. I need to no job
security, as well as certainty over what will be involved know what I am doing,
where I am and where I am supposed to be’

Moreover, as one participant pointed out, the perceived job
and associated financial security are not always realistic when it comes to
zero-hour contracts:

Lines 1116-1117: it’s basically the opposite. So sometimes when you need money
they may not have anything available’

This ties in with the lack of financial security due to the
lack of work, as well as no guarantee of any hours at all, meaning that an employee
on a zero-hour contract might be at the employer’s ‘beck and call’ as and when

Theme 3: Workforce Integration and Team

Another theme identified from data analysis was that of
workforce integration and team dynamics. In particular, a common element
identified across interviews was that of differences between groups of
permanent and zero-hour staff within the same workplace:

Lines: 120-124: ‘the people who have been there for a long time – they’re very
integrated as one. Like you can tell they know each other and that INT: yeah
and with us they’re very nonchalant. They don’t know our name, they don’t know
anything really so…’

When this was explored further, the participant described
varying treatment between permanent and zero-hour teams in the workplace:

Line 124: ‘yeah kinda like an outsider. We are very segregated’ 

This was evident across
interviews, highlighting how zero-hour contracts can impact perceptions and
attitudes towards the workforce, as well as the work that employees complete:

Lines: 870-877: i’m not saying that the staff were horrible, erm but there was
no time to integrate because on 0-hour contracts you get as much work pushed on
you as they possibly can for the money that they are giving you. Whereas with a
permanent member of staff, they’ve got an annual income, so there work is
spaced out. A 0-hour contract is more like the temp that comes in, fills the
gaps and they push the work on you for –for – basically what you can do. So there
will be no time to sit at the computer, sitting on Google and just flicking
INT: yeah Whereas you’d find that the permanent members of staff will be
doing that, and nobody will be batting an eyelid’

Zero-hour contracts can therefore limit
workforce integration by associated perceptions of employees on such contracts
as ‘other’ or external to the permanent work team:

Lines: 1509-1513 : .’cuz my contract type at that time it was like.. I wouldn’t
really know my managers, we had a different manager with each occasion,
wouldn’t really know anybody personally, so it was like, it wasn’t really like
integrated workforce, really.. it was just like, on a certain day, you just
work with a certain person, and then, that’s really it.. it wasn’t very
interactive with the managers that much.. at all..’

This response identifies high staff turnover and subsequent
limited rapport building, interaction and team integration.


Thematic analysis revealed
three main themes, which were consistent across multiple participants.
Participants demonstrated flexibility to be the appealing factor of zero-hour
contracts, both for the employee being able to fit their work around their
outside commitments and the employer offering work where there is demand.
However, interviews revealed that this flexibility has negative implications in
that some participants experienced fear of not being offered work as a result of
turning down some shifts. It is therefore important to highlight that the
purpose of zero-hour contracts is to offer both parties full flexibility of
being in control of how much they work (Roberts 2015), thus such practice should
be avoided in order to promote better and healthier employer-employee
relations. This has been shown to increase job satisfaction and workplace
wellbeing in permanent employment (Whitehead and Phippen 2015, McNamara Bohle
and Quinlan 2011), and can therefore be beneficial for those employing
temporary staff. This links to another theme identified during coding, which
also offers implications for employee retention, training and development. Job
security was identified to be a theme which, in the present sample, seemed to
cause anxiety in participants, especially in relation to some of their existing
permanent roles. Participants’ experiences of zero-hour contracts offered a
sense of lack of job security in terms of retention and further employment
opportunities, as well as financial security and work stability. Participants
therefore demonstrated preference for permanent roles, whether full or part
time, which seemed more beneficial due to the certainty in work hours, working
pattern and pay. It would therefore provide more rich information to compare
and contrast data from participants on permanent and temporary contracts to see
whether there are substantial differences in employee wellbeing and job
satisfaction. Psychometric measures would be extremely useful in determining the
extent to which these are determined by contract type. This would provide more
detailed accounts of the sources of participants’ perceptions, motivation and
feelings about their workplace, especially as the present study only does so from
a subjective perspective. It is also important to note that certain
participants reported their experiences retrospectively, as having worked on a
zero-hour contract in the past, which might have affected their account of such
experiences and how they perceived it to have affected their workplace
motivation and attitude. There were minor differences in participants’ attitudes
in each of the reported themes, however the report focuses on data indicative
of majority consistency across participants. It would therefore be more beneficial
to employ stringent participant recruitment methods to ensure
representativeness (such as stratified sampling). However, this does reveal that
the present study does not explore the variety in how zero-hour contracts might
be perceived by employees. It would therefore be more beneficial to recruit a bigger
sample as the present one portrays a negative attitude towards zero-hour
contracts. This would help psychologists obtain a fuller and richer idea of how
individuals perceive temporary contracts and how these affect their motivation in
the workplace.

Finally, the last theme
referred to workforce integration and team dynamics. Analysis revealed
perceived differences in the treatment of permanent and temporary staff in the
workplace, as well as their integration into existing teams. This underlines
the importance of introducing regulation that prevents potential discrimination
between staff based on their contract type, as well as to ensure that workload
is distributed evenly and fairly. This is because some participants reported
greater workloads due to the limited timeframe for their duties compared to
permanent staff. Perhaps deadline distribution for tasks could be a useful
factor to consider when exploring solutions to this. Although implications for
future research and potential psychological intervention have been identified,
the present study is largely limited in offering conclusive data for
intervention in promoting workplace wellbeing, satisfaction or motivation. It
should be used as a point of reference for relevant research and literature to
consider the factors affecting employees in temporary work and the motivation
behind taking on a zero-hour contract in the first place.