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Commitment Among Selected Contingent Leisure Service Workers: Perceived Outcomes for Employers, Clients, and for Those Workers

John Meldrum, Ron McCarville

Abstract


Commitment in the workplace has received considerable attention in the organizational studies literature. However, little research has focused on contingent employees, those in temporary or seasonal positions. The research that does exist suggests that contingent employees may lack the commitment required to provide quality or even adequate service levels. This seems problematic given that leisure providers often rely on contingent workers to provide a large portion of their programs and services. This qualitative study explored various outcomes of commitment as reported by selected contingent workers. The goal was to explore the effect of contingent workers’ commitment on their subsequent behaviors. Specifically, we studied the perceived consequences of commitment among undergraduate students who had recently completed a leisure service job on a seasonal/contingent basis. We gathered their own reports of the ways in which commitment influenced these employees as they carried out the various job-related tasks. We were concerned with three categories of perceived outcomes in particular: those relating to the organization, to clients, and to the contingent employees themselves. In each case, we wished to discover how commitment translated to perceived behaviors, reactions, or intentions. Twenty-four workers were interviewed. We collected their self-reports in terms of their behaviors toward the organization and its various clients.

Results suggest that these workers reported being very much committed to many elements of their jobs. We found little indication that these contingent workers lacked the desire to fulfill their jobs as assigned. They expected to commit to and enjoy their respective jobs. For example, they happily worked under very demanding conditions and often volunteered to take on additional tasks, all in hopes of aiding their employers. Further, clients were a key focus for these contingent workers. They reported being willing to go to great lengths to serve their various client groups. Their desire to work with these groups was often reinforced through interactions with these clients. For example, these workers very much enjoyed working with children and potentially marginalized individuals. Finally, they sought and enjoyed interactions with coworkers. Immediate supervisors were particularly important to their work experiences. The influence of supervisors could be either positive or negative in nature. Two of these workers noted profound disappointment in their dealings with supervisors. The consequences of both positive and negative experiences are discussed.


Keywords


Commitment, proactive employees, psychological contract, contingent worker, organizational citizenship behavior

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