What Is Marginal Employment?

by Chris Newton; Updated September 26, 2017
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Marginal employment is a circumstance in which an employment relationship is not earning an employee enough money to make a decent living and/or when the employee is failing to meet the expectations of the company or employer. Marginal employment affects employees, their families and the companies that employ them.

Marginal Employees

Marginal employees under-perform at work. They do not meet employer expectations and fail at some or all of their job responsibilities. Marginal employees may be a result of poor training, lack of effective management, lack of motivation, lack of understanding about their responsibilities or just a bad attitude at work. Their low productivity can inhibit a department or company as a whole, so marginal employees must be dealt with in one way or another.

Marginal Employment Effects on Employees

If employees are in a marginal employment situation, they are likely working at a job that is not paying enough for a number of reasons. If they are paid by the hour and work part-time, they might not have enough work hours to cover all their expenses. Or they might simply be under financial strain and have trouble paying all the bills with their current salary. This situation can add more stress into an employee's life, as well as into the lives of his family and other people he supports.

Marginal Employment Effects on Employers

Marginal employees can negatively affect a company in a number of ways. Lower productivity can decrease revenue. It can also slow down productivity from other employees or departments that depend on the marginal employee's work for their own productivity. Marginal employees can also reflect negatively on their coworkers or managers in team environments. If marginal employees interact with customers, their inability to complete their jobs or their bad attitudes might deter some customers from doing business with the company again.

Resolving Marginal Employment Situations

Marginal employees may mean well but just need extra training or coaching. Sit down with the marginal employee and explain clearly where she is failing. Ask whether she clearly understands what her responsibilities are and whether she has all the proper tools, equipment and resources to do her job. Ask about any areas where she is confused and provide all the resources and information she needs. If the employee simply has a bad attitude and is unwilling to try harder, consider replacing her.

For employees in marginal employment situations, the best way to resolve the situation is to increase income. Ask for more hours or higher pay or look for another job to increase take-home pay.

About the Author

Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.

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