When Does Job Security Affect Job Performance?

Job security has rapidly decreased as a result of the global economic downturn and financial crisis. In a recent survey, employees ranked job security as the greatest contributing factor to job satisfaction. However, because job insecurity is unavoidable in the current situation, organizations need to understand the conditions under which employees can remain engaged at work and how negative responses to job insecurity can be reduced.

Past research has produced mixed results regarding the link between job insecurity and job performance. Some have suggested that more work needs to be done in exploring work contexts or situations as factors that may influence this relationship. This research (Wang, Lu, & Siu, 2015) sought to fill this gap and identified organizational justice as an important contextual factor.

JOB SECURITY AND JOB PERFORMANCE

When employees don’t feel secure in their job, increased stress and negative emotions impact their work performance. Job insecurity is unavoidable in the current job market, so the question is, what intervention strategies will produce the greatest results? The researchers initially examined the relationship between job insecurity and performance and found that increased feelings of job insecurity corresponded with low levels of job performance. However, this was not the case for employees in organizations with high levels of organizational justice. Organizational justice has to do with the policies and procedures put in place to make employees feel as though they are treated fairly.

The findings however were not as straightforward as increased feelings of job insecurity resulting in decreased performance. Increased feelings of job insecurity first led to fewer work-related positive feelings, which is a crucial component of work engagement. Only then did these feelings harmfully impact actual job performance. This means that just because job insecurity is a reality, does not automatically translate into decreased performance. Employees can still feel positive about their work and environment. It is only when job insecurity is present and these positive feelings are reduced in some way that performance will inevitably suffer.

 

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

At present, organizations demand greater dedication, energy, and engagement from employees, but cannot offer the guarantee of permanent employment. Organizations should seek to improve employee perceptions of justice in order to reduce the negative effects of job insecurity.

Quality HR processes and best practices are paramount to organizational success, particularly in the context of uncertainty. Management can tackle the dilemma by paying adequate attention to issues of organizational justice, especially during volatile times when job insecurity increases. This can be achieved by listening more to employee concerns, garnering greater employee participation in decision making, spending more quality time explaining why certain changes are necessary, as well as using objective and transparent procedures. Such efforts can go a long way in increasing employee perceptions of fairness.

Organizations could also try to help individuals manage uncertainties as part of their employment. Within the context of uncertainty, efforts to increase perceptions of fairness may facilitate greater work engagement and productivity.

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