Job insecurity affects personality

A new study on the effects of workplace insecurity has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This showed that those who had been exposed to such conditions for more than four years became emotionally unstable, less friendly and conscientious. The report's co-author, Lena Wang, said the study relies on a growing, evidence-based basis about the negative effects of psychosocial stress on work.

Consequences of job insecurity

woman hiding behind papers while working

“We have traditionally thought about the short-term consequences of this uncomfortable situation. This can affect your wellbeing, physical health and self-esteem, ”said Wang. “But now let's take a look at how that actually changes over time. So who you become as a person could be a long-term consequence that you may not even notice. ”

personality impact work

The study used nationally representative data. These were in terms of responses to workplace insecurity for 1046 employees over a nine-year period. The scientists have applied a well-established framework for personality assessment. This is known as the “Big Five” and divides the human personality into five major characteristics. Above all, these are emotional stability, tolerance, conscientiousness, extrovert and openness.

The study results showed that long-term job insecurity negatively affected the first three characteristics. These relate to a person's tendency to reliably achieve goals, get along with others and deal with stress. Wang said the results contradicted some assumptions about job insecurity.

Possible effects

businessman shows uncertainty at work conversation

“Some may think that unsafe work increases productivity. Workers are working harder to keep their jobs. However, our research suggests that if job insecurity persists, this may not be the case, ”said Wang. “We have found that those who are chronically exposed to job insecurity are more likely to withdraw their efforts. They shy away from building strong, positive working relationships that can undermine their productivity in the long run. ”

Previous research has shown that precarious work, contract and casual work, and underemployment are increasing worldwide. The data was based on responses from employees across a wide range of professions who answered how safely they are doing their jobs.

The study's lead author, Professor Chia-Huei Wu, said the types of uncertainty could include jobs threatened by automation and jobs that could be considered for layoff. According to Wu, there are important ways that employers can support workers who are worried about their jobs.

Some people simply feel discouraged by the change in their roles or fear that automation will replace them. While some existing jobs can be replaced by automation, new jobs are created. This gives employers the opportunity to reduce this perception, for example by investing in professional development, skills and training, or by providing career counseling, the study says.

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