Fear of job loss causes dissatisfaction and a lack of commitment at work

Feb 23, 2012
Blue collar workers are less satisfied with life and they work less productively than the other groups studied. Credit: SINC

A study in Spain shows that insecurity at work is directly and negatively linked to satisfaction in work and life, as well as affecting performance and commitment. Furthermore, the research reveals that the consequences of this insecurity are different according to the occupational group they work in.

A study led by Spanish psychologists has concluded that the feeling that one is going to lose their job worsens satisfaction levels in other areas of life, such as family, health, and the work-free time balance.

As the fear of unemployment increases "the level of work rises, people are less satisfied with their personal, work and family lives and they are less committed to their work" Amparo Caballer, researcher at the Psychology Department at the University of Valencia, and co-author of the study told SINC.

This analysis, published in The Spanish Journal of Psychology, also reveals that the consequences of are different in each occupational group.

Three different groups have been identified: blue collar workers, white collar workers and 'professionals'. The first group included people with positions that do not need high qualifications, such as supermarket shelf-fillers or hospital attendants. The second group includes office and administration workers and supermarket assistants and check-out staff. The 'professionals' group includes doctors, engineers and nurses.

When there is uncertainty about employment, blue collar workers "are less satisfied with life and they work less productively than the other groups studied", Caballer explains. White collar workers are the ones who display the most at times of instability.

Upon examining the results of the study, not all employees react to insecurity in the same way. Some groups are more prone to react more negatively to perceiving insecurity at work. Therefore the study authors advise against approaching the problems in the same way as with different groups in the company.

Permanent or temporary

The study's data was collected in the study through 321 worker's answers in a questionnaire. 51.4% were people who worked in hospitals, 25.7% had positions in supermarkets and commercial distribution companies and 22.9% were temporary work agency employees.

The average age of the study participants was 32. 66% had a permanent contract and 34% had other types of contracts (temporary, for example). "For work insecurity studies, whether the type of contract is temporary or permanent is an important variable" Caballer reports.

In the study, 74.3% were women and 25.7% were men, which the expert recognises could be because "in these sectors, the majority of workers are women, and therefore the majority of the sample are".

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More information: Beatriz Sora Miana, M. Gloria González-Morales, Amparo Caballer y José M. Peiró. "Consequences of Job Insecurity and the Moderator Role of Occupational Group". The Spanish Journal of Psychology. 2011. 14, (2), 820-831. DOI: 10.5209

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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