Can HR practices retain flexworkers with their agency?

Kroon Brigitte (Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Freese Charissa (Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 11 November 2013



Workers have different motives to be employed at specialist contract work agencies, such as career development aspirations, or a desire for freedom and independence. The purpose of this paper is to study how these different motives relate to the appreciation of HR practices applied by agencies and consequently to employee retention at the agency.


Data were collected in a contract work agency for financial professionals. Management was interviewed about the HR practices used for employee retention. In addition, 291 agency employees filled out a questionnaire about their motives to be employed at the agency, their appreciation of the HR practices of the contract agency and their turnover intentions.


Regression analysis showed that career development motivation was related to retention at the agency, but that this relation became weaker when tenure with the agency increased. HR practices (like training, supervisory support, career development support, information sharing and employee participation) proved to be related to lower turnover intentions of flex workers with a career development motivation. For flex workers with a freedom motivation the HR practices had no relationship with retention.

Research limitations/implications

Data collection in one agency may limit generalization. Additional research needs to zoom in on alternative HR retention practices that align with freedom motivation.


Specialist contract work agencies typically experience difficulties with employee retention. Agencies may retain their workers if they apply HR practices that are aligned with the motivation of people engaging in contract work.



The authors would like to thank John Willems and Kees Welten for their interest in human resource management and flex worker retention and for making this research possible.


Kroon, B. and Freese, C. (2013), "Can HR practices retain flexworkers with their agency?", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 34 No. 8, pp. 899-917.

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