Part Time Work And Job Satisfaction Management Essay

Part time work

Definition of part-time work differs from country to country as a result of which there has been an attempt to measure part-time work on the basis of a uniform threshold of usual hours. As approved by the OECD Working party on Employment and Unemployment statistics at its 1996 meeting, part-time job is defined as work done for 30 hours or less than 30 hours a week therefore a part-time worker is an employee working less than 30 hours or 30 hours a week (OECD 1997, Lemaitre et al)

There has been considerable rise in part-time work in the recent years and evidence suggests that it is rapidly rising across the OECD, Netherlands (36% of total employment in 2008), Australia (24%), Switzerland (26%), UK (23%), Germany (22%), lower in US (12%) and France (13.4%), (OECD 2009). According to evidence, there is difference in part-time rates across countries which can be because of the variations in the legal, social and economic systems.

The reasons for the rise in part-time work can be attributed to the erosion of internal labour market and a shift towards flexible firm models (Atkinsons 1984) and periphery workers to attain numerical and financial flexibility, however it is not just the employer’s choice which determines part-time employment, but it also depends on a number of other factors like production systems requiring non-standard or flexible hours, competitive conditions in the product market, labour regulations, Government and trade union activity and labour market conditions (Fagan et al 1995). A slowdown in economic activity where unemployment is high also induces an increase in part-time employment as people are more eager to take any form of employment.

Cost considerations by employers also give rise to part-time employment as the hourly wages of part-time workers are lower than their comparable full time workers in countries like Europe, USA. (Delsen, 1995)

Part-time work tends to be more apparent in the service sector in countries like United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands where the employment is about 80 percent part-time (OECD 1983; Delsen 1995). Further it is more apparent in low-skill and lower occupational levels like cleaning, catering, sales etc. (Meulders et al 1993; OECD 1994)

(Delsen 1998) concludes that female employees making the supply side of labour is one of the most prominent reasons in the increase of part-time employment. Men and women work part-time due to different reasons and different stages in their life cycle. Women tend to work part-time when they have children, other reasons could include easier ways to start their careers. Evidence from Europe and America suggests that transition rates are higher for women when it comes to shifting from part-time to full time than for shifting from part-time to full time. Young people are more likely to take on part-time employment as a way to enter labour market and start their careers where as for older workers it is a way of exit from the labour market. People are also likely to take on part-time employment as a result of financial incentives (O’Reilly 1996).

Keeping in perspective the different reasons for working part-time, it can be accomplished that part-time employees are not a homogenous group; in fact they compromise different groups which voluntarily or involuntarily enter part-time employment (Feldman 1990). These include students who want to earn extra cash while studying, caretakers who want some extra time to take care of dependents, involuntary part-time workers which enter part-time employment as a result of scarcity of available full time jobs , as a way of moving into a full time career or as a result of being tied into a specific location. Another group can be identified as the voluntary part-time workers as a way of slowly moving into retirement, exploring a new field etc (Thorsteinson 2005)

As proposed part-time work is more of a positive experience as it is a way of managing work and non-work activities (Barnett and Gareis 2002). Therefore it provides more discretion in terms of offering more flexibility by providing convenient hours and therefore providing less stress (Hakim 1996).

However, contradictory to how it is proposed, part-time work also includes constraints in terms of control, flexibility and benefits and to highlight this point, two streams of contrasting perspectives on part-time employment are taken into consideration. One deals with the optimal choices of employees and their employers which is supported by a vast majority of workers taking up part-time work to cater for household responsibilities etc. The other view concerns the labour market and its segmentation with part-time jobs belonging to the secondary sector in that many part-time workers are in part-time employment involuntarily and wish to shift to full time employment. With respect to the second view, evidence reveals that part-time work is more like a low quality job with part-time employees earning less and receiving fewer benefits than their full time counterparts while experiencing lower job security (Houseman and Osawa 1998).

Further to the second perspective, the investment in part-time employees is limited as organizations are more focused on investing and retaining their full time employees as opposed to investing in the secondary labour market. The wages of part-time workers also tend to be lower than their full time counterparts. There is a larger gap in UK than in Australia or Sweden (OECD 1994). Women in part-time employment tend to earn 75% of the wages of their full time counterparts (Rubery 1989). Part-time workers also receive fewer non-wage benefits like they have limited access to employer provided health insurance and other benefits like sickness, disability, maternity etc (Callaghan and Hartman 1991). Part-time workers also tend to miss out on career advancement opportunities (Durivage 1986).

In addition to poorer wages and working conditions of part-time employees as compared to full-time employees, other problems include status divide and hierarchal tensions due to issues of flexibility where part-time employees feel inferior to their full time counterparts and are considered second class. They are allocated unfavorable tasks and are excluded from staff meetings as they are held outside their contracted hours (Smith 1994). Part-time workers were also given less training and less product knowledge (Walsh 2007)

Therefore it can be argued that the presence of part-time work and flexibility may not necessarily relieve the employee of the temporal pressures. Further there is incidence of overtime working/ long hours in part-time workers. They experience time based pressures and conflicts with non-work activities as a result of working overtime thus rendering part-time work not in line with worker’s working time preferences. (Greenhaus and Beutell 1985)

Part-time employees are also sometimes compelled to work paid overtime at short notice (Walsh 2007). In the study conducted by Walsh 2007, two-thirds of the part-time female employees stated that they often had to work unpaid overtime. They were also under pressure to work overtime as a result of lack of relief and support staff and considerable amount of overtime could be expected of them. Part-time workers might view their part-time job as a suitable option fitting in well with their work and non-work activities and to protect that arrangement, they would work overtime as a compromise and being aware of this, employers may also exploit part-time workers by demanding overtime (Conway and Briner 2002).

Face time or presenteeism is another reason why part-time workers might work over time. Part-time workers might worry that they are perceived to be less committed than full time workers and therefore put in extra/ long hours or over time to show their commitment (Lawrence and Corwin 2003).

As the wages of part-time employees tend to be lower than full time employees, employers may also try to maximize productivity by demanding extra hours from part-time employees and yet pay those lower wages (Euwals and Hogerbrugge 2006)

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Hypothesis 1: Part-time workers will report working overtime

Job-related attitudes:

Job satisfaction:

Job satisfaction has been defined in many ways. It can be considered as an affective reaction to one’s job after the individual compares the desired and the actual outcomes of the job (Cranny, Smith, Stone 1992). It can also be defined as a result from the appraisal of one’s job into a pleasurable emotional state (Locke 1969). There are important reasons to be concerned about job satisfaction. The humanitarian perspective suggests that people should be treated fairly and job satisfaction is a sign of fair treatment at work. The utilitarian perspective suggests that if employees are satisfied, they behave in a certain way which is important for organizational functioning (Spector 1997).

Job satisfaction is also important because of its potential effects on attributes like performance, Organizational citizenship behavior, burnout etc. Job satisfaction and performance have a higher correlation where good performance is rewarded (Jacobs and Solomon 2007). Caldwell and O’Reilly 1990 also reveal indirect evidence that job performance can lead to job satisfaction. Similarly Job satisfaction intercorrelates with organizational citizenship behavior (Becker and Billings 1993). It is also related to absence where it plays a significant role in determining employee’s absence (Steers and Rhodes 1978). Many Turnover theories suggest a link between job dissatisfaction and employee turnover (Bluedorn 1982, Mobley, Griffith, Hand, Meglino 1979). Job satisfaction also has its effects on burnout, such that job dissatisfaction is related to higher burnout (Bacharach, Bamberger and Conley 1991). Job satisfaction is also related to physical health, psychological well-being, counterproductive behavior, life satisfaction etc (Spector 1997). It can be concluded that it is important to explore job satisfaction because of its potential impact.

Organizational commitment

Meyer and Allen 1997 have give a three component model of organizational commitment where one component; affective commitment refers to the emotional component and the attachment the employee feels towards the organization. Continuance commitment, the second component, refers to the association of costs of leaving the organization and the third component, normative commitment refers to the feelings of obligations to stay with the organization however the most sought-after form of commitment that organizations would promote in their employees is affective commitment (Meyer and Allen 1997) which is developed mainly by personal fulfillment which they get by work experiences involving supportiveness, justice and the importance the organization places in them.

Commitment has important consequences. Mathieu and Zajac, 1990 and Allen and Meyer 1996 have found negative correlations between organizational commitment and employee’s intention to leave and actual turnover with the correlation being strongest for affective commitment. Affective commitment is also positively related to attendance (Mathieu and Zajac 1990). When employees have high levels of affective commitment, they tend to work harder (Bycio, Hackket and Allen 1995). They also tend to engage more in organizational citizenship behavior (Meyer et al 1993). Affective commitment was also found to positively correlate with employee’s loyalty and voice which is defined as employee’s keenness to make suggestions, and it was found to negatively correlate with neglect (Meyer et al 1993). Reilly and Orsak 1991 and Jamal 1990 have found negative correlation between affective commitment and psychological, physical and work-related stress


Well-being is a concept which involves the satisfaction of an individual including life satisfaction, job-related satisfaction, non-job related satisfaction, general health etc (Danna and Griffin 1999). Well-being is a broader concept than satisfaction as measures of job satisfaction only measure well-being along one aspect whereas well-being has been validated by Remington, Farbrigar, Visser 2000, Watson, Clark and Tellegen 1988 as a two dimensional structure.

In the context of this dissertation, the focus is on the psychological aspects of well-being otherwise known as affective well-being or job related well-being which involves feelings about the job, a concept given by Warr 1987, 1999b and further developed by Spector, van Katwyk, Spector, Fox, & Kelloway, 2000.

In terms of job characteristics, Warr 1987, 1994 gave certain job characteristics which differ in the way they are configured in different jobs and thus these variations give rise to differences in well-being of those employees. These characteristics include opportunity for personal control, opportunity for skill use, externally generated goals, variety, environmental clarity, availability of money, physical security, supportive supervision, opportunity for interpersonal contact and valued social position.

Intention to quit:

Turnover is increasingly becoming a problem for many employers. Wilson (2000) reports the findings of a national survey where 52% of the companies indicate increasing rates of turnover. Accumulated costs of turnover can have a major impact on the bottom line of a company. The costs of turnover involve separation costs, replacement costs and training costs (Griffeth and Hom 2001). Therefore it is important to manage turnover and retain the valued employees.

Turnover can be predicted by intention to quit (Blau and Boal 1989, Mowday 1987, Koberg et al 1984) where intention to quit can be defined as the intention of an employee to leave the organization (Rahim and Psencika 1996)

Intention to quit is indirectly related to withdrawal which is further related to lateness, absenteeism, low performance and avoidance behavior (Rose and Hulin 1985). The worker leaves the organization after intention to quit and other cognitive stages (Jaros, Jermier, Koeler & Sincich, 1993; Tett & Meyer, 1993)

Difference in job-related attitudes:

Part-time employment is increasing and there is comparatively less research on part-time employees thus little is known about their characteristics, behaviors and attitudes (Miller and Terborg 1979)

It is acknowledged that they differ from full time employees but the way and the extent to which they differ has not been consistent as the empirical studies regarding the difference in job satisfaction between the two groups have yielded mixed results (Conway and Briner 2002).

Some studies have concluded no differences in the results of job satisfaction between the two groups (Logan, O’Reilly and Roberts 1973). In a comparison of full time and part-time Australian retail saleswomen, no difference was found on ten out of twelve job satisfaction variables (Still 1983) In conclusion, the studies indicate that full-time may not be the preferred work schedule and part-time may not necessarily be an inferior work arrangement (Krausz 2000) which is why there is no difference in the level of job satisfaction of part-time and full time employees.

Other studies suggest that job satisfaction is higher in part-time workers. Ebhardt and Shani 1984 found part-time workers to be more satisfied than full time workers where they were given comparable benefits. Jackofsky and Peters 1987 found job satisfaction higher than

full-time for regular part-time employees. The study controlled for age, gender, marital status and job tenure. Wotruba 1990 Compared part-time and full-time direct sales people and concluded that job satisfaction was higher among part-time employees who only had that job, but lower for those who had another full-time job.

Yet other studies find job satisfaction to be lower in part-time workers compared to full time workers. Hall and Gordon 1973 found out that full time workers reported higher job satisfaction as compared to part-time workers because part-time workers had greater conflicts. Miller and Terborg 1979 found that part-time employees had lower satisfaction with work, benefits, and the job overall than full-time employees and had no differences in satisfaction with supervision, pay, or advancement.

Incompatible results have emerged from the comparison of organizational commitment in part-time employees and full-time employees.. Martin and Peterson 1987, Wetzel et al 1990 conclude that organizational commitment is higher in part-time employees as compared to full time employees. Krausz 2000 and McGinnis and Morrow 1990 report both part-time and full-time employees to be equally committed. Other studies conclude part-time workers to be less committed than full-time workers (Lee and Johnson 1991, Morrow et al 1994, Martin and Hafer 1995)

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Part-time workers have been found to differ from full-time workers in terms of work-related characteristics therefore they are also required to be managed under different strategies (Gannon 1975). Part-time workers emphasize relations with co-workers more than full-time workers where as full-time employees are more concerned about promotional opportunities, pay, supervision and the nature of work itself (Logan, O’Reilly and Roberts 1975)

Eberhardt and Shani 1984 revealed that part-time workers had constructive attitudes towards organizational structure, policies, reward systems, levels of trust among organizational members and distribution of power.

Krausz (2000) found well-being was lower for part-time employees who wanted to work less than they actually did. Isaksson and Witte 2005 highlight the costs of flexibility for periphery workers by giving reference to the results presented by the Dublin Institute for improvement in living and working conditions which highlight the elevated levels of stress, burnout and health problems due to work related issues.

Peters et al (1981) suggest that turnover intentions and withdrawal decisions would be different for part-time and full-time employees therefore separate human resource policies would be necessary for full-time and part-time employees (Rotchford and Roberts 1982). This view is further substantiated by Hall and Gordon 1973 and Logan et al 1973 who suggest that part-time employees make withdrawal decisions on different criteria as compared to full-time employees.

After establishing the difference in job-related attitudes between full-time and part-time employees, it is important to understand the reasons behind the difference. These reasons are given by many perspectives give below.


A possible explanation for the difference in the job related attitudes could be because of greater role conflicts in part-time employee. These conflicts could be related to the career compromise that certain employees have to make by taking up part-time employment. This compromise is more like an internal conflict where the employees are constantly having a mind battle to justify the decision of working part-time and thus missing on full-time career opportunities. The decision to take up part-time employment for these employees is based around the expectation of lower work load which subsequently leads them to make less role reductions in other areas of their life, however as a result of this compromise, employees may experience role overloads, thus leaving them unprepared and with ineffective strategies in dealing with such conflicts. These conflicts result in part-time employees having more unfavourable attitudes as compared to full-time employees (Hall and Gordon 1973)

Another form of role conflict perspective is given by Werbel 1985 where the conflict is between work and family roles and one role interferes with another. Further, the conflict depends on the primary goal for employees. Full time employees who place more emphasis on family are more likely to have high levels unfavourable attitudes whereas those full-time workers who attach more importance to work are more likely to have low levels of unfavourable attitudes. Similarly for part-time workers, those who attach more importance to work are more likely to have high levels of unfavourable attitudes whereas those who attach more importance to family are likely to have low levels of unfavourable attitudes, thus it can be concluded that job-related factors and primary goals affect attitudes of employees and since the job characteristics and primary goals of part-time and full-time employees are different, their job attitudes are likely to differ as well.

Another reason for the difference in job attitudes could be explained by Partial inclusion theory (Katz and Kahn 1978) which has been identified as an important concept by many researchers (Feldman, 1990, Martin & Hafer 1995; Miller & Terborg, 1979; Peters, Jackofsky, & Salter, 1981; Tansky, Gallagher and Wetzel, 1997). It suggests that employees are part of multiple social systems therefore they may have multiple competing roles both physically and psychologically. Further part-time employees are included on a segmented basis because of them not working full-time and because they might have other connections outside work, thus they are less included in the organization and more included externally and the number and importance of non-work may define the level of inclusion in the work role for part-time employee. In line with this argument, it is further proposed that part-time employees may have different levels of tolerance and acceptance to organizational demands.

The frame of reference theory (Logan et al 1973) may also be used to explain the difference in the job attitudes of full-time and part-time employees according to which the job attitudes held by part-time employees would depend on the frame of reference they compare themselves with. If the reference group chosen is also other part-time employees, then the level of dissatisfaction might be lower or part-time employees might as well be equally satisfied or more satisfied than full-time employees. However if they compare themselves to other full-time employees, their level of job satisfaction might be lower than full-time employees. Some employees compare themselves with full-time employees while others compare themselves with part-time employees (Eberhardt and Moser 1995)

The frame of reference perspective can also be paralleled with the social comparison process (Goodmanns 1977) to explain the differences in the job attitudes which proposes that employees respond differently to organizational conditions depending on the particular reference group chosen thus the frame of reference works alongside the reference group chosen, such that if there is no difference in the levels of a particular attitude like job satisfaction or organizational commitment, it could be because the social comparison was made with the same group of employees and if there is a difference, the social comparison is made with a different group of employees.

Thornsteinson 2003 gives another perspective to explain the difference in the job attitudes related to the goodness of fit between the person and the job i.e. person-job fit perspective which states the difference in job attitudes arise as a result of whether the employee prefers or doesn’t prefer to be in part-time employment. If the employee is in part-time employment because of preference for this work arrangement, he/she will have more favourable job attitudes like job satisfaction, organizational commitment and well being and lower levels of intention to quit. However if the employee prefers to be in full-time employment but ends up being in part-time employment because of several factors like unavailability of full-time job etc, then the employee would have less favourable attitudes as compared to full-time employees. This perspective is in line with the study conducted by Burke and Greenglass (2000).

Conway and Briner 2002 propose the perspective of psychological contract to explain the different job attitudes of part-time employees and full-time employees. Psychological contract refers to the individual beliefs about the exchange conditions between themselves and the organization (Rousseau 1989). The fulfillment or breach of psychological contract further explains the difference between full-time and part-time employees. Conway and Briner 2002 propose four ways in which psychological contract may lead to a difference. At the organizational level, part-time employees may be treated differently than full-time employees which further affects the perception part-time employees hold. If they perceive themselves to be treated differently, it results in the difference in job related attitudes. At the individual level, part-time employees may have lower expectations than full-time employees because of which they will perceive the fulfillment or breach of psychological contract differently and thus result in different attitudes. At the interpersonal level, part-time employees may be perceived differently by their supervisors, as a result of which, the supervisors tend to manage part-time workers differently, as Darden et al 1993 found that part-time employees were being managed under theory X assumptions. Finally part-time employees spend less time in the organization as compared to full-time employees and therefore they might perceive fewer and unclear promises because of which the probability that they will perceive a breach is reduced whereas full-time employees may perceive greater promises with more detail, thus expect more from psychological contract which ultimately impacts their perceptions of psychological contract fulfillment or breach and therefore results in difference in job attitudes.

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The equity/balance perspective (Adams 1963) can further be added to the psychological contract perspective which suggests that when employees perceive there to be an inequity in the output/input ratio, they try to restore inequality, so when employers fail to fulfill the psychological contract, employees perceive it to be a violation and to re-establish the balance, they regulate their own contributions as they cannot change the employer’s behavior. This adjustment in employee’s own contributions might take the form of reduced job involvements which further result in unfavorable job attitudes. The same reasoning as in the psychological contract perspective applies here in terms of difference in perception of breach or fulfillment of psychological contract for full-time and part-time employees which results in different job attitudes like job satisfaction, organizational commitment, well-being and intention to quit.

The differences in part-time and full-time are apparent and can be explained by the various perspectives given above, however the extent and the way part-time workers differ from full-time workers still remains to be explored because of inconsistent results.

Considering the perspective of the segmentation of the labour market and part-time employment being more apparent in the secondary sector, it can be argued that part-time jobs are generally less desirable than full-time jobs (Barling and Gallagher 1986, Lee and Johnson 1991, Wakefield, Curry, Mueller and Price 1987) and part-time employees would be having more unfavourable attitudes compared to full-time employees as they are considered to have a lower status than full-time employees, especially if its involuntary part-time employment and they would be earning less, receiving fewer benefits, having lower job security etc (Houseman and Osawa 1998). Further part-time jobs are deemed to be lower quality jobs as employers invest less in them and give them lower wages (Rubery 1989). They are also more likely to have fewer career advancement opportunities. (Durivage 1986)

Therefore from the evidence as presented above and the different perspectives and reasons for the difference between the two groups, the following hypotheses are formulated.

Hypothesis 2: Part-time employees are likely to report lower job satisfaction than full-time employees

Hypothesis 3: Part-time employees are likely to report lower organizational commitment than full-time employees

Hypothesis 4: Part-time employees are more likely to have lower levels of well-being than full-time employees

Hypothesis 5: Part-time employees are more likely to have higher levels of intention to quit than full-time employees

Effect of overtime on job related attitudes:

Employees are being asked to work more overtime because of several reasons like demand of the job to meet certain deadlines or due to increase in workloads after major changes or reconstructions or because of “face time” i-e a way to show commitment because of heightened levels of insecurity experienced by both the core workers and periphery workers typically associated with only periphery workers. (Simpson 1998). In other words employees may feel pressurized to work overtime because of financial reasons, job insecurity or even demands from the employers (Emmerick and Sanders 2005)

However working overtime is not without its effects on employees. Many studies have focused on the effect of overtime on health and well being as Brett and Stroh 2003 reveal potential risks involved in working overtime like poor psychological and physical health, poor productivity and distressed family and social relationship (Brett and Stroh 2003). Other studies which have focused on short-term effects reveal overtime being related to illnesses (Savery and Luks 2000), while others focusing on long-term conclude that overtime is related to impairment of metal and physical health (Sparks et al 1997). Overtime has also been related to sleep disturbances in employees (Rau and Triemer 2004). Similarly overtime has been found to not only have an impact on job satisfaction and workers motivation but also affect their productivity (Nanda and Browne 1977). Gazioglu and Tansel 2002 tested the affect of long hours/ overtime on job satisfaction. They expected longer hours of work being associated with lower levels of satisfaction and found the results to be in line with their expectations. Weston Gray and Stanton 2004 found Overall satisfaction with the work hours decreases as the number of hours worked increases

Reasons for the effects of overtime to the above mentioned job related attributes could be explained with the psychological contract perspective (Emmerick and Sanders 2005). By working overtime, employees perceive there to be a mismatch between the preferred hours and actual long hours as a result of which there is a breach of psychological contract thereby leading to negative attitudes (Robinson and Rousseau 1994). These negative attitudes could be decreased job satisfaction, decreased organizational commitment, increased intention to quit and decreased well-being. Further, the severity of employee’s perception of the psychological contract breach would be determined by how much importance the employee places on the breached outcome (Kickul et al 2004), thus if employees feel their preferences of working hours are not taken into account seriously then they will perceive a breach in the psychological contract and will not be committed towards the organization (Eisenberger et al 1986).

The equity perspective (Adams 1963) can also be used to explain the effect of overtime (Emmerick and Sanders 2005) which states that when employees perceive inequity in the output/input ratio, they will try to restore the balance by adjusting their own contributions in the form of reduced job investments leading to dissatisfaction and turnover (Robinson et al 1994)

As overtime is likely to affect the job-related attitudes, it is further proposed that part-time employees will have a different impact of overtime on the job-related attitudes as compared to full-time employees based on the various perspectives presented above. Further, Chrobot and Mason 2003 suggest breach of psychological contract may aggravate stronger feelings in certain groups, so psychological contract breach may be taken differently for full time employees and part-time employees as the preferences of part-time employees may be different from full time employees (Reynolds 2003).

Emmerick and Sanders 2005 suggest that part-time employees attach more importance to work hours therefore they might be more affected by the mismatch between the actual and preferred hours as the main reason for working part-time is to avoid workload.

Taking the equity perspective (Adams 1963) into account, it can be proposed that it is likely that part-time employees don’t prefer overtime and thus they will perceive it as a violation or breach of the psychological contract and further try to restore the output/input ratio by reducing their own contribution, therefore part-time employees will be more strongly affected by the inequity caused by working overtime as they value work hours more.

Hypothesis 6a: Employment status moderates the relationship between overtime and job satisfaction.

Hypothesis 6b: Employment status moderates the relationship between overtime and organizational commitment

Hypothesis 6c: Employment status moderates the relationship between overtime and well-being

Hypothesis 6d: Employment status moderates the relationship between overtime and intention to quit

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