The negative job- and health-related implications job insecurity has on your organization With the increased effort of organizations to remain competitive while also reducing costs, downsizing the employee pool has been a recurring theme in corporate enterprise. As a consequence, feelings of job insecurity within an organization are growing. The absence of an appropriate response to job insecurity among employees only contributes to the job insecurity faced by many employees. There is a tendency among managers to consider job insecurity a psychological issue only the employee, him or herself, can mediate.
While this consideration isn’t unreasonable, it should be noted that the implications of this line of thinking are hazardous to the employee and the organization as a whole. The article, “Who Suffers More from Job Insecurity? ,” written by Grand H. -L Cheng and Darius K. -S Chan, presents the results of a metaanalytic review (the “Review”) on the effects of job insecurity for an employee and for the organization. The focus of the Review is the varying effects job insecurity has on employees with differing organizational tenure, age, and gender.
Their intention was to discover if the abovementioned demographics are more or less prone to job insecurity. Outside of an improved understanding of which employees are more or less affected by job insecurity, this Review further advances the appropriateness of management response to employee-felt job insecurity. Developing an adequate response to employees who feel concern regarding their organizational position is instrumental in reducing negative implications like turnover intention and withdrawal cognitions.
At the root of these negative implications lies job insecurity as a stressor. It is the existence of the stressor that invokes in an employee a desire to rid the job frustration. Knowing which employees are more prone to job insecurity can allow a manager to develop an appropriate response the job stressor. To demonstrate the effects of job insecurity, Cheng and Chan utilized a total of 133 studies (published and unpublished) that provided 172 independent samples, involving 132,927 employees. These studies “measured the subjective experience of job insecurity of employed people. (Cheng and Chan, 280) The authors of the study included a number of correlated variables in their Review. Among these variables were organizational commitment, turnover intention, work performance, job involvement, psychological health, and physical health.
Two raters (graduate psychology students) “coded” each sample within each study. The coding included detailing various sample characteristics such as sample composition and sample size. The coders also identified the relationships recognized in each of the Who suffers more from job insecurity? tudies. The relationships included those between job insecurity and correlated variables like job satisfaction and trust. The correlations were further corrected by way of another meta-analytic method so to account for measurement error on the correlations identified in each compiled study. The results of the Review indicated that job insecurity was negatively related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, work performance, and job involvement. It was further concluded that job insecurity was positively related to turnover intention.
While many of the conclusions from the Review may seem obvious to members of management, the effects of the correlated variables on differing demographics is what might be of surprise. In regards to age, job insecurity and its relationship to turnover was heightened in terms of younger employees. However, job insecurity had a smaller effect on the psychological and physical health of this same demographic. This might be due to the fact that younger employees believe they have the capability to search for comparable positions within other organizations and so view turnover as an optimal solution.
As a side note, organizational commitment and work performance did not differ among age demographics when employees overall were experiencing job insecurity. It was also revealed that gender differences had no effect on job insecurity. Both men and women consider job insecurity an uncomfortable and unwanted stressor in the workplace. Males and females alike will suffer negative consequences due to not feeling secure in their organizational position. Focusing on the third demographic of the Review, it was determined that job insecurity and turnover intention was more positively related in employees with shorter tenure.
Shorter tenured employees may feel that they have invested less time into the organization and thus decide that leaving an organization won’t have the implications longer tenured employees believe that it will. Longer tenured employees may feel a stronger tie to the organization and thus leaving is not a viable option. Taking health into consideration, longer tenured employees and older employees are more prone to experiencing healthrelated issues due to feelings of job insecurity. Longer tenured employees and older employees experience the threat of unemployment more heavily than those of a younger generation and a younger tenure.
Chen and Chan conclude that this could be due to the increase in family obligations that is typical of a longer tenured employee or an older generation. Also, longer tenured employees are often more committed to their organization than are shorter tenured employees. Having a long-standing relationship with an organization increases feelings of obligation toward the organization. This doubt is manifested into a negative psychological implication that does hinder the health of the employee. While it can be a difficult endeavor unraveling an employee’s feelings of job insecurity, one thought holds true.
If management can learn that employees are most impacted by job insecurity, they can begin to alleviate the negative implications these feelings bring. Helping longer tenured or older employees feel as if their “tribal knowledge” is valuable to the company is one specific action managers can take to affect performance and attitudes. Also, institute mentoring between older and newer employees so both feel a stronger sense of organizational commitment. Finally, the most crucial action management can take is addressing how the company communicates layoff/reduction to employees.
The not knowing is the worst part – who, when, or how many. However, identifying the causes of insecurity that employees feel about their positions is the first step management can take in helping to make employees feel less insecure. Also, having an understanding of why certain demographics experience differing effects due to job insecurity is equally important. This understanding will help management prepare their approach and, in the long run, improve the relationship between the employee and the organization.