Feelings of Job Insecurity Can Influence Employee Performance

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.


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.


The authors suggest that in times of job insecurity, there are various steps that organizations can take. For one, organizations should pay attention to poor job performance that could eventually have a harmful impact on widescale organizational success. Additionally, organizations can make sure to always support their employees, which may help them become more adaptive and more likely to succeed on the job.


Nikolova, I., Stynen, D., Van Coillie, H., & De Witte, H. (2022). Job insecurity and employee performance: Examining different types of performance, rating sources and levels. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 31(5), 713-726.
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