Feelings of job insecurity often occur in response to an unstable economic situation or when lay-offs or mergers are announced. Research has considered these feelings to be a stressor that negatively impacts employee health and well-being. The current paper (Nikolova et al. 2022) investigates specifically how these feelings impact employee job performance.
JOB INSECURITY AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE
Survey data were collected from eight international organizations in Belgium. Through an online survey, employees and supervisors answered a variety of questions about their individual levels of job insecurity and employee performance. More specifically, employees answered questions about their own levels of adaptivity (e.g., “I am able to adapt well to changes in my tasks” and proactivity (e.g., “I have come up with ideas to improve the way my tasks are done”).
Overall, the findings suggested that when teams had higher levels of job insecurity, supervisors had more favorable perceptions of employee work behavior (e.g., adaptivity and proactivity). On the other hand, employees exposed to more job insecurity provided more negative evaluations of their own performance. While it appears that supervisors believe their team might be acting in a more proactive or adaptive manner in insecure times, this was not reflected in individual employee perceptions.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
The authors suggest that in times of job insecurity, there are various steps that organizations can take. For one, organizations should be alert and aware of performance lapses that may negatively impact organizational performance. Additionally, providing support to employees may help enhance positive work behaviors and job performance.