Fear of Being Laid Off Has Ripple EffectSpanish researchers have found that the stress of shaky job security adversely affects many aspects of our family and work life. And commitment and performance at work are often compromised as well.

Generally, the feeling that one may lose hir or her job worsens satisfaction levels in other areas of life, such as family, health, financial circumstances and the work/free time balance.

As the fear of unemployment increases “the level of work insecurity rises, people are less satisfied with their personal, work and family lives and they are less committed to their work” said  psychologist Dr. Amparo Caballer, a co-author of the study.

However, the consequences of insecurity are different according to an individual’s occupational group.

Researchers studied three different groups: 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 included office and administration workers and supermarket assistants and check-out staff. The professionals group consisted of 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 said. White collar workers are the ones who display the most dissatisfaction at times of instability.

Upon examining the results of the study, researchers determined not all employees react to insecurity in the same way. As such, researchers believe a different approach should be used to address problems among the three work groups.

Researchers polled 321 individuals. Fifty-one percent of the sample worked in hospitals, 26 percent had positions in supermarkets and commercial distribution companies and 23 percent were temporary work agency employees.

Study participants were, on average, 32 years old. Two-thirds of the sample had a permanent contract and the remainder 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 said.

The findings are published in The Spanish Journal of Psychology.

Source: FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Supermarket worker photo by shutterstock.