In our Job Exodus survey, job security emerged as a key concern for employees and one that will encourage job-seeking in 2019. Want to help retain staff? We look at what causes employees to feel insecure about their jobs and offers a way for organisations to better support staff when they do.
Feelings of job insecurity stem from many causes and are, crucially, not always linked to whether the job is actually insecure. In fact, feelings of job insecurity can occur when the job has never been more secure.
This is an important point: organisations need to be aware of job security during the good times as well as the bad times as feelings of insecurity can be very personal and linked to the individual, rather than being externally driven by wider economic conditions.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the causes that drive feelings of job insecurity in employees:
Feeling safe and secure is a basic human need and because work forms such a key and important part of our lives, it’s no surprise that feeling safe and secure at work is critical to wellbeing. When we don’t feel secure at work, we feel isolated, trust can break down, connectedness with others becomes harder and we find it more difficult to be productive.
This is at the individual level: when feelings of job insecurity are shared across units, the negative effects are intensified. Human emotion is, after all, contagious and feelings of job insecurity can spread, not only to other colleagues but further afield, to suppliers and customers. This associated ‘contagion’ can make actual job insecurity far worse.
Comfort messaging is about appropriate reassurance. It aims to mitigate the negative effects that feelings of job insecurity create – both on personal wellbeing and wider, organisational-focused areas such as productivity and team unity.
We say appropriate reassurance because, obviously, job insecurity can be very real. Comfort messaging is not about hiding problems. In times of genuine job insecurity, it may be about helping staff see the bigger picture and adapt to potential negative changes by making positive changes in their lives.
And yet feelings of job insecurity, as we saw above, do not only occur when there is genuine job insecurity. You’ll see in the list below that positive reinforcement during the ‘good times’ is an important way to stop feelings of job insecurity from arising in the first place.
Managers recognising strengths and giving feedback: this is an ongoing form of comfort messaging and tells employees that they are valued and useful in the workplace. It’s a ‘prophylactic’ comfort message, which helps prevent feelings of job insecurity from arising
This list is notable because some of the comfort messaging examples are actually things that organisations should be doing as a going concern, such as recognising strengths and giving feedback.
Get more insight into what employees are looking for from their jobs in 2019 by downloading our Job Exodus survey, filled with real insight on the driving factors behind employees leaving their current positions this year.