Purpose – the purpose of this paper is to answer two questions: how do temporary workers achieve well-being and optimal functioning? and how is it possible to promote commitment and productive behaviours among temporary workers?design/methodology/approach – the paper takes the form of a literature review and synthesis.findings – temporary employment can no longer be seen as exclusively bad or as a signal of labour market segmentation. Instead, mechanisms to promote commitment and productive behaviour that are beneficial for all parties involved can be identified. Temporary employment is a reality that is here to stay and that searches for mechanisms to reconcile the sometimes conflicting perspectives of employees and employers. This new approach is promising but researchers should also account for and create awareness about potential and sometimes less visible drawbacks associated with temporary employment (e.g. Social isolation or negative implications for career success).originality/value – the paper shows a new approach to temporary work from both the employer and employee perspective.