Job insecurity can have harmful effect your personality: Study

Job insecurity over a long time may negatively change an individual's personality

contract-work-job-employment-signed-document-bargain-offer-shut Job insecurity might include short-term contracts or casual work, jobs threatened by automation, and positions that could be in line for a redundancy | Shutterstock

People who are chronically exposed to job insecurity can be detrimental to the well-being of their organisation. A nine-year period study using nationally representative data from Australia for 1,046 employees has found that people exposed to job insecurity for more than four years became less emotionally stable, less agreeable, and had reduced conscientiousness.

The number of job-insecure workers is on the increase due to organisational restructuring and cutback in order to save cost. These workers are more likely to feel less sense of belonging to the organisation and it can have a direct impact on their work performance.

Experiencing job insecurity in the form of short-term contracts or casual work over a long period of time may negatively change an individual's personality, according to a study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

"Traditionally, we have thought about the short-term consequences of job insecurity -- that it hurts your well-being, physical health, sense of self-esteem," said Lena Wang from RMIT University in Australia.

Some might believe that insecure work increases productivity because employees will work harder to keep their jobs, but our research suggests this may not be the case if job insecurity persists

"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," Wang said.

It applied a well-established personality framework known as the Big Five, which categorises human personality into five broad traits: emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and openness.

The results showed that long-term job insecurity negatively affected the first three traits, which relate to a person's tendency to reliably achieve goals, get along with others, and cope with stress.

Wang said the results went against some assumptions about job insecurity.

"Some might believe that insecure work increases productivity because employees will work harder to keep their jobs, but our research suggests this may not be the case if job insecurity persists," she said.

The researchers found that those chronically exposed to job insecurity are more likely to withdraw their effort and shy away from building strong, positive working relationships, which can undermine their productivity in the long run.

Previous research has shown that insecure work—including labour hire practices, contract and casual work, and underemployment—is on the rise globally.

The data drew on responses from employees belonging to a broad cross-section of professions and jobs, who were asked about how secure they perceived their jobs to be.

According to study lead author Chia-Huei Wu, a professor at Leeds University in the UK, types of job insecurity might include short-term contracts or casual work, jobs threatened by automation, and positions that could be in line for a redundancy.

Wu said there are ways that employers can support workers who are feeling worried about their jobs.

(With inputs from PTI)

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