Even companies thought to be bulletproof from layoffs, such a Google, have had to reduce their workforces in this long, deep recession. The Obama Administration says it’s going to get worse before it gets better, with unemployment rising above 10% before it inches back down later in 2010. The reality is that there is no such thing as job security any longer and basically everyone should have a healthy dose of concern for their livelihood, that is unless they are independently wealthy and don’t really need to be employed. For the rest of us though, worrying about making house payments, putting food on the table, and gasoline in the family car, angst is rampant. So where is the happy median of a healthy concern for our jobs as opposed to being stressed out to the point of it causing major health problems, including depression?
Sarah Burgard, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, in an article published by LiveScience says in fact, chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension in one of the groups we studied. She goes on to say that Based on how participants rated their own physical and mental health, we found that people who were persistently concerned about losing their jobs reported significantly worse overall health in both studies and were more depressed in one of the studies than those who had actually lost and regained their jobs recently.
How can this be? When you think about it, the stress of the insecurity about the next paycheck, medical benefits, retirement plans – all tied to our jobs – has to take a toll on us. everywhere you turn today you see family, friends, and colleagues either out of work or in fear of a forced career change and it’s the major focus in much of the media we see. If you get laid off or otherwise terminated from your employment, at least you know where you stand and you can channel your anxiety into action to network and search for another job. Not that this is without its’ own stressfulness but at least the uncertainty and helplessness of waiting for the ax to fall is relieved.
In the US, the average savings rate as a percentage of income is lower than the rest of the industrialized world. this leaves us vulnerable in light of job cuts – especially now with 6.2 people competing for each available open position. most workers lack the wherewithal to maintain their standard of living when hit with a job loss and go through the (sometimes) long process of securing a new one. it will take you an additional month on average to find a new job of equal pay, for each $10,000 of income, e.g. if you make $80,000 it will take eight months to find a replacement position. this includes getting your resume together, networking, the search, getting called back, the preliminary interviews, the final interviews, checking references, making the offer, you accepting the offer, and actually starting the new job. this could be a painful period with meager unemployment benefits.
What happens to your job performance if you are at unhealthy stress levels, which weaken the immune system leading to physical illness and even depression? Your work suffers. you are not upbeat and motivating to your subordinates, teammates, and even customers. you probably have more sick days. this lack of positive contribution can even be your downfall – setting yourself up for a target in the next round of layoffs and can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, the insecurity you feel in your job can cause you to lose it.
What can workers do to remove themselves from this vicious cycle? Start by always having an up-to-date resume and keep an eye open for your next position. Be forward thinking so that you are cognizant of your standing with your employer and the market position of your company, so that you can be proactive and make a change if need be. Help create a healthy work environment in your job where teamwork is encouraged and satisfaction is achieved. you should add value to each task you undertake. Always take the opportunity to continuously re-educate yourself and network with the people in your industry and community who have knowledge and offer guidance. keep pace with new technologies. Religiously build your savings account for a potential rainy day; that will add a great deal to your security. Being overly dependent on a company can destroy your ability to take risks or make changes when you know they are necessary. you need to prepare for the future by putting these practices in place. this will be your security going forward.