Job insecurity can have some significant adverse effects, from employee health problems to stifled employee engagement -- and in turn, can lead to decreased organizational performance. Fortunately, new research using Gallup data reveals a promising remedy: supervisor support.
It's well-known that supervisors play an important role in employee engagement. In fact, Gallup finds that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Recently, a team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) set out to examine the connections among supervisor support, job insecurity and employee engagement, as discussed in the paper, The Association Between Job Insecurity and Engagement of Employees at Work.
Gallup finds that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.
For this study, the researchers evaluated data from Gallup questions -- asked of hundreds of thousands of U.S. adults between 2008 and 2014 -- that measure employee engagement and perceptions about workforce changes.
To explore supervisor support, this study looked at questions that ask employees if their supervisor serves as a boss or a partner -- and whether their supervisor creates a trusting, open work environment.
Key Finding #1: Job insecurity significantly decreases the odds of employee engagement.
This study confirmed the significant connection between job security and employee engagement. In fact, researchers found that the odds of engagement decrease by 37% among employees who are insecure about the stability of their job.
Key Finding #2: Supervisor support more than doubles the odds of employee engagement.
Employees are more likely to be engaged when their supervisor is partner-like and fosters an atmosphere of trust and transparency.
Researchers also found that good health and consistent exercise improve the odds of employee engagement. This discovery is in step with previous Gallup research showing that focusing on employee wellbeing accelerates the success of employee engagement efforts and boosts customer outcomes.
Key Finding #3: Supervisor support significantly increases the odds of engagement among employees who are job-insecure.
Job insecurity undermines engagement -- but this effect is mitigated when supervisors are supportive. Specifically, researchers found that the odds of engagement among employees facing job insecurity increase by 13% when employees have a supportive supervisor.
That is, supervisors who meet employees' needs for partnership and trust help employees who are burdened with job insecurity stay engaged with their work.
Insights and Implications
A host of factors can cause employees to feel worried about being laid off. During such circumstances, organizations can reduce setbacks in productivity, engagement and employee wellbeing by promoting the right supervisor behaviors. For example, leaders can offer development opportunities that help managers become coaches who provide meaningful feedback and empower each individual to excel in their role.
This paper also may offer insights related to workplace culture initiatives. Leaders can encourage managers to be open and approachable by cultivating a transparent work culture and modeling desired behaviors.
Read the full paper, The Association Between Job Insecurity and Engagement of Employees at Work.
The authors of the paper are Abay Asfaw, Ph.D., Economist, Economic Research and Support Office, NIOSH, CDC; and Chia-Chia Chang, MPH, MBA, Public Health Analyst, Office for Total Worker Health, NIOSH, CDC.