Job insecurity, believing that the probability and bad consequences of losing your job are high, can be as stressful as losing your job.
This is often because people feel out of control and anticipate not being able to meet their social and economic needs. Or because it leads them question what they know about themselves and their world: These can make it difficult to live for the now and plan for the future.
Job insecurity can, therefore, be a risk to your wellbeing. Indeed, sport and business research frequently link job insecurity with greater risk of poor health. In fact, some suggest the risk of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, doubles.
Despite this, denial or avoiding to prepare for potential job loss is both common and understandable. Some feel that preparing to move on threatens your, or others’, perception of your commitment. Others feel that looking for other opportunities is pointless in an unpredictable job market.
This ‘wait and see’ strategy may be helpful if it maintains a sense of control or reduces the loss of time or energy spent on possible situations. But research warns that this approach may not be so helpful in the long-term.
So How Should I Cope With Job Insecurity?
Everyone thinks about and experiences job insecurity differently. So it’s difficult to give strong recommendations of what to do to reduce job insecurity stress. However, have an honest look at the following evidenced-based strategies to see if they might help you get the right balance.
- Reality Check. Is your job really under threat? Gain information and give honest thought to; the probability of job loss, what the specific life consequences might be, and how severe these consequences would actually be.
- Be Career Aware. Remember, careers rarely progress upwards in straight line. Instead, progression often requires change, and every change can feel like a crisis, a relief, negative or positive. Expect your career to take a series of steps. Some forward, some backwards – small and large. Some within your control, others not. Regardless of the reasons and direction of travel, consider each step and role as an opportunity to gain and enjoy new experiences. And to develop new personal and professional skills. If you’ve got a career dream, keep working on it.
- Develop Competency. Know about the latest skills and what’s in demand in your profession. Keep your skill base up-to-date and take on new responsibilities. Don’t underestimate the benefit of developing strong, transferable personal skills, e.g., time management, social skills, coping. Also, broaden your understanding of what jobs and careers are available both in and out of your industry/sector, and how your skills can be applied.
- Know and Be Confident in Who You Are: Know what makes you you; your personal beliefs and values. For example, is it important to you that you always; act with integrity, work hard, are optimistic? Live by your values. Be confident because of them. Use them to guide your decisions and help you to face new challenges. Others will notice and value you for them: They might just be the things that gets you noticed, makes you different, brings you a new opportunity!
- Grow Your Network. Get to know more people. Be wise in asking them to; provide advice, listen, support you, give a helping hand.
- Address Specific Redundancy Concerns. E.g.; if you’re worried about financial consequences, seek financial advice and manage your current funds wisely. If you have a partner/family, discuss concerns that may affect them, with them.
Are you in a position of knowledge or control over the employment of others?
If so, do what you can to promote their sense of security. Most importantly, talk openly with them and work to maintain their trust. This might not solve their job insecurity, but it will help reduce the psychological health risk.
What Should I Do If I’m Made Redundant?
This life change can bring many daunting, challenging, negative and positive, anticipated and unanticipated consequences.
- Use Networks. If you’ve set good impressions and nurtured your network, let people know you’re available and ask if they can help.
- Moving Forward. Try to come to terms with what’s happened. Negative thoughts of being sacked and the bad situations you went through can dominate and prevent you from moving on effectively.
- Gain Support. Emotions associated with grief, e.g., denial, anger, feeling low, are not unusual. Don’t ignore or be embarrassed by them. Instead, acknowledge and work through them appropriately with friends, trusted colleagues or professional services.
- Restory: Find a way of thinking about what’s happened so that you can live with it and move on. Look for the positives in what’s happened. If possible, accept. Develop a story that enables you to feel OK about the past and tells about the new opportunities that might now be out there. A better future story is always out there.
Careers progress in various ways. Good preparation helps you to; be resilient, enjoy and work optimally in your current post, and face any future changes with confidence. Good luck.
We hope this article has been of interest and helpful.
This article was written for the Football Medicine and Performance Association during the corona-virus pandemic. It was published in Football Medicine and Performance (Issue 29, Summer 2019).