What Is Job Security (and does it really exist?)

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

We all want job security, right? Even if we don’t want believe that we will necessarily stay in the job ourselves. Ask yourself, what does job security look like/feel like? Does it really exist? Here are my thoughts…

Here’s a definition of Job Security that I think sums it up:

Job security is an employee’s assurance or confidence that they will keep their current job. Employees with a high level of job security has a low probability of losing their job in the near future. Certain professions or employment opportunities inherently have better job security than others; job security is also affected by a worker’s performance, success of the business and the current economic environment.

So job security is about an individuals perception of themself, the situation and the potential. It isn’t always tangible, unless the terms of employment that provide the security are all-encompassing (never happens!). This makes it hard to define in exact words… but we know Job Security when we see it (or feel it.)

For most of us, Job Security is something amorphous – it is constantly changing, and it is also like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (for you scientists) that when you measure it (analyse your own Job Security) you also change it. Can we really understand it, then?

There are some external factors that have an influence on our Job Security. A good indicator of Job Security held by the majority of the national workforce is how the business environment fairs – it is often reflected by the country’s unemployment rate and whether the country is in an economic expansion or recession. Our individual Job Security is influenced more by personal factors, e.g. our education, our experiences, the skills we have developed, our performance and our capabilities.

When we perceive that our organization is in need of our specific skills and experience, the greater we tend to feel Job Security. Conversely, the less specialized these skills become (and the greater the number of available workers that can provide them), the lesser the Job Security is felt.

Why Does Job Security Matter?

When we have a high level of Job Security, we will often perform and concentrate our effort into work more effectively than an employee who is in constant fear of losing their job (although fear can actually increase motivation in certain situations, but only for a short period.)

Job Security has a significant effect on the overall performance of teams, too. Because, in most organizations, the breakdown of tasks into jobs means that teamwork is essential to deliver a service or a product, the result is as strong as only the ‘weakest link’, which could be a worker who is feeling very nervous about their future. Not just that, an organization with workers with low Job Security cause others to doubt their own future. Water-cooler chats are a hotbed of gossip and rumor-mongering.

I think high Job Security is vital for the whole workforce, as well as ourselves.

But does it really exist?

In a turbulent global economy, in a world where natural resources are under strain and economies are up and down like a yo-yo, I don’t believe we can say that it does exist for a whole national workforce. For example, in the UK economy, austerity cuts are threatening public sector jobs for the first time in decades, yet private sector jobs will benefit (eventually) as the delivery of public services becomes increasingly outsourced. And look what is happening in North Africa too – regional political forces are destabilizing their economies which have relied on tourism (I wouldn’t pack my suitcase to go visit the Great Pyramids, right now, would you?) Just imagine how assured a waiter in a Cairo street cafe feels about his Job Security now!

The future has become more unpredictable for us all. But there is one thing we can do to improve our own perception of Job Security, and that is to focus on our individual performance (check out my post 99 Ways To Become a High Performer.) Our individual performance is something that we own, and we control. We can increase our Job Security by concentrating on our personal development, relationships and productivity. When we know we are performing to our potential, we also know that we can control our destiny, and be assured of our success. I have never met a person who does not enjoy high Job Security who is also a High Performer. OK, even the best get laid off, but the best also know that they can walk into another job the next day.

So, I say, Job Security does exist if you are prepared to give it your all and create it for yourself. Because, nowadays, you can’t rely on anyone else to hand it to you! And help your colleagues too, to increase their perception of Job Security, as it’s important for whole teams and whole organizations to share in it.

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4 thoughts on “What Is Job Security (and does it really exist?)”

  1. Simon,

    I love that last two paragraphs. Just Outstanding. The lack of personal responsibility in one of the hallmarks of junior level management. It is sad how many people do not get that their career and future are in their own hands at all times.


  2. @Mike – thanks! Yeah I agree its sad, but perhaps it isn’t laid out to junior managers enough so they have the opportunity to understand it this way. I experienced this in my earlier management career.

    Active responsibility for creating our own future, I believe, generally comes with gaining wisdom. But if organizations were to be more upfront about the importance of it (and the longer term consequences of it) then junior managers could begin to build on their security as a platform earlier on

  3. Pingback: Education, Nonstop - The Core Benefits of Continuing Education

  4. Pingback: Job Security Doesn't Exist Anymore, Never Has

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