While the goal for most employees is to feel secure in their work, a new study conducted by researchers for RMIT University found that job insecurity can negatively impact consumers’ personalities.
The study revealed that feeling uneasy about a job can manifest itself in negative personality traits like laziness and emotional instability.
“Traditionally, we’ve thought about the short-term consequences of job insecurity -- that it hurts your well-being, physical health, sense of self-esteem,” said researcher Dr. Lena Wang. “But now we are looking at how that actually changes who you are as a person over time, a long-term consequence that you may not even be aware of.”
The researchers looked at data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to better understand how consumers’ feelings towards their jobs can affect their personalities. Over 1,000 survey respondents answered questions that gave insight into their personalities, as well as their attitudes about their current place of employment.
Ultimately, the researchers learned that job insecurity can affect how consumers perform at work, how they interact with others, and their personalities overall.
The study found that despite fears around losing their jobs, participants were more likely to pull back from their job responsibilities and complete fewer tasks. Job insecurity was associated with less effort at work and less productivity.
From a personal standpoint, the researchers learned that participants were more likely to react poorly to stressors and incite conflict with others during periods of job insecurity.
Support from employers
Dr. Wang explained that job insecurity is a legitimate fear in many cases. However, she also explained that consumers often feel fear about losing their jobs when there’s no chance of that happening.
To help ease tensions, the researchers urge employers to be a source of comfort to employees. This team says bosses should be proactive in helping to settle work-related anxieties.
“Some people simply feel daunted by the changing nature of their roles or fear they’ll be replaced by automation,” said Dr. Wang. “But while some existing jobs can be replaced by automation, new jobs will be created. Some employers have the ability to reduce that perception, for example by investing in professional development, skills and training, or by giving career guidance.”