How satisfied are your team members or staff with their job security? Do they feel their job is stable and secure? And does the sense of job security impact your employees‘ health and well-being at all? If so, in what ways? These are some of the questions we aim to explore and answer in this blog post.
The impact of job security on health and wellbeing
First thing first, what do we mean by job security? The phrase job security indicates the feeling of knowing that your job is safe and that you are likely to continue to work in your existing role for the foreseeable future or until you choose to. And when considering the impact of job security on employees‘ health and wellbeing, a study from 1989 demonstrated that perceived job security does indeed have an impact on members of staff’s health (Kuhnert et al, 1989).
This study from the late 90s isn’t, however, the first time the topic was explored. In fact, in the same study, the authors summarise research from previous decades showing that feelings of job security are intrinsically linked to both mental health and quality of life.
The impact of job security on employees‘ turnover and retention
Job security is not just important for your employees‘ health and well-being though. It also impacts employee turnover and retention, as well as job satisfaction. And these factors are strictly correlated with increased profits and higher productivity, for example. Plus, job security affects organisational commitment, which may lead to increased productivity, engagement, commitment, and morale (Yousef, 1998).
Interestingly, what determines how strong the link between 1) job security and satisfaction and 2) job performance and organisational commitment depend on national cultures, according to Yousef, 1998. In this study, the researcher suggests that this difference can be seen in ex-pats, for example. Those working in a foreign country appear to be more concerned with their job security, and this, in turn, seems to have a bigger influence on people as individuals.
However, research also shows that other personal factors might influence the level of how satisfied employees are with job security. Some of these are:
- Educational level.
- Monthly income.
- How long people have been working in an organisation.
- Someone’s current role.
- The level they occupy in the company.
- Their marital status.
The impact of job (in)security on mental and physical health
More recently, a study done in Spain in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown showed that people with higher levels of job insecurity and also more work-family conflict showed greater signs of anxiety, depression, and insomnia (Antino et al, 2022).
In this study, health was measured by considering the following:
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches or lower back pains.
- Whether employees felt self-conscious around others or thought they were disliked.
- Whether staff showed any signs of depression (such as feeling low in energy and worthiness or blaming themselves) or signs of anxiety (such as feeling fearful or nervous) (Kuhnert et al, 1989).
In particular, in order to understand how secure people perceived their jobs to be, the researchers looked at the following five dimensions (Kuhnert et al, 1989):
- Whether people thought their company and management displayed genuine concern for them. Do employees feel wanted? Do they have confidence in the honesty and fairness of management?
- How permanent staff perceived their job to be. Do they think their job will last? Or are they afraid of losing it?
- How well staff thought they were doing with regards to their own job performance and quality of work. Do they think they’re working hard and doing a good job?
- Whether people perceived their company to be stable and growing. Do they think management is planning to expand, build the company, and make it successful?
- And finally, whether people had a long-term orientation towards their job. Do they want to retire from this company and see their position more as a career than just a job?
What can leaders do to increase perceived job security in staff?
It’s tempting to come to the conclusion that because perceived job security is so personal and individual, there’s nothing that you, as a leader, can do to influence your team. However, as a first-line leader and manager, you’re probably not the one making decisions about company strategy, mergers, and acquisitions. Whether the company expands or downsizes isn’t necessarily your choice.
But as a leader, despite all these constraints and limitations, you can definitely make a difference for your team members. In a study conducted by Kuhnert (Kuhnert et al, 1989), for example, two companies were investigated. And the researchers found indications that the relationship between perceived job security and employee health can be influenced by the company’s climate and culture. And all leaders in an organisation have an impact on those – even the ones who don’t make those difficult decisions about downsizing or letting staff go.
Practical tips to increase job security for your staff
Show appreciation to your staff
One key aspect of job insecurity is the perceived lack of concern from the company and management. And this is something that as a leader, you can influence. So make a point of showing appreciation for your employees‘ work – praise them as individual people. Regularly communicate to them how you value their contribution and tell them how you are glad they’re part of your team. Also, make sure to pay attention to treating all your employees fairly and avoid ‚playing favourites‘.
Always be open and communicate ‚known facts‘
In terms of how permanent a job is, as a direct manager, you may have limited decision power. You can undoubtedly contribute to sustainable resource planning. But when it comes to restructurings or downsizing, the best way you can help your team members is by not making false promises and by never over-dramatising a situation. Instead, ensure you stay with the facts that are true and known at the time.
Help your staff put their contribution into perspective
Job security can also be impacted by the knowledge that a company is growing or expanding successfully. But how will your team know this? As a leader, you can help your team members put company results and strategy into perspective. Help them answer some of these questions, for example:
- What does the annual business report mean?
- How does the new strategy impact the team and where do they fit?
- How threatening is a drop in the share price, in reality?
Provide feedback to your team
Another strategy you can use to help increase the perception of job security is by providing feedback so your team members know how they’re doing with respect to their job performance and quality of work – if they’re doing a good job, tell them.
Provide opportunities for growth
In a similar way, investing in people by providing opportunities for growth can do wonders. After all, this builds their perception of their own employability, which, in turn, helps reduce job insecurity (Hu, 2022). That also contributes to their well-being in that people become less worried about losing their job when they know they’re valuable and have a sought-after skill set, which would allow them to find another job just as easily.
I’d like to leave you with a few final questions to consider:
- How satisfied are you with your own job security?
- And what do you think contributes to that?
- How can you either increase your perceived job security or deal with the issue constructively, both for yourself and your team?
- But also, where might you start? What is one small way to show your appreciation this week?
- Do you often provide feedback for a job well done to your staff? And if so, how often? And when have you last invested time and budget into your team’s development?