Study: Job Insecurity Increases Chronic Stress, Impacts Employee Health

August 07, 2017

Job insecurity is becoming more common as uncertainties spread in the economy. College graduates can no longer expect to get a good job right after college and stay there for years like previous generations. The fear of job loss is a constant reality for many people, and research has shown that psychological distress of this uncertainty is comparable in severity to unemployment itself. Now, researchers at Ball State University's College of Health have taken a step further to show the consequences of chronic stress response to job uncertainty.


Effects Of Job Insecurity

According to a study, job-insecure individuals reported experiencing more than two weeks of work loss days, more than two weeks of bed-ridden days, worsening of general health, and work-life imbalance in the past 12 months. They are also more likely to be obese, sleep less than six hours a day, and smoke on a daily basis. Overall, workers reported reduced productivity, which translates to worse business outcomes for employers.

The lead author, Professor Jagdish Khubchandani explained that “when it’s chronic [stress], [it] becomes anxiety, depression. Once people have those disorders, you can see physical signs of anxiety.” The physical impacts of chronic stress include ulcers, weight gain, smoking and drinking, diabetes, hypertension, chest pain, and coronary heart disease. Mental effects are also a concern, as people with chronic stress are also likely to experience “emotional disturbances, reduced organizational trust, increased intention to quit, lower job performance,” including tardiness and absenteeism.


Groups At Risk

Some of the common causes of job insecurity are layoffs, plant closings for factory workers, outsourcing, mergers, replacement of full-time positions with short-term contracts, etc. It is more likely to affect males, African-Americans, Hispanics, divorced or separated individuals, and those paid hourly. Government jobs and employees of larger organizations are much less likely to feel affected. Also, people with lower education and annual household incomes were much more likely to report job insecurity than their higher-educated counterparts.



Khubchandani laid out some suggestions to alleviate insecurity, which includes flexible work hours, better shift management and communication, and more clearly-defined roles. Offering counseling services, as well as health and wellness coaches, are also excellent options, as it enables employees a channel to resolve their worries and learn more about stress management practices.

“Employers need to learn that they need to invest in employees. That investment doesn’t have to be health insurance only. It can be an investment in professional development, stress management, anger management, and good communication”

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Topics: Corporate Wellness

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