Since the recent global financial recession, employees have faced layoffs, reductions in pay, or fewer resources at work. Continuing market uncertainty and rapid technological change have caused workers to be concerned about the future of their jobs. As a result, job insecurity is an increasingly important aspect of contemporary organisations. While the term job insecurity usually implies threat of job losses, it may also refer to worsening employment or working conditions for employees, or individuals’ anxiety about their work performance or standing in their organisation.
Mindy Shoss, a professorial fellow at ACU’s Centre for Sustainable HRM and Wellbeing, recently published a systematic review of the job insecurity literature. Her article finds that job insecurity is a significant stressor for employees. Such job insecurity can be experienced as not merely unjust – but as a perceived breach of employer-employee relationships – leading to negative outcomes for employers and employers alike.
Individuals are most vulnerable to these negative outcomes of job insecurity when they are worried about their abilities to replace a loss of employment or income (ie economic vulnerabilities), or when they have the most personal investment in work as a source of meaning, identity, and self-worth (ie psychological vulnerabilities).
Mindy’s article finds that organisations’ (intended or unintended) threats to employees’ job security is, consequently, a poor strategy for stimulating high performance at work. Where job insecurity is inevitable, though, she concludes that workers’ negative reactions to job insecurity may be improved by boosting a ‘social safety net’ for employees, such as through retraining initiatives or supporting smooth transitions to alternative sources of work.
For more information and to read the article see: Shoss, M. K. (In press). Job insecurity: An integrative review and agenda for future research. Journal of Management.