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Job insecurity at 20-year high, research reveals

May 23, 2013  /   No Comments

Jo Faragher

British workers feel less secure in their jobs than at any time in the past 20 years, according to a national survey of staff wellbeing.

The research team behind the Skills and Employment Survey, which is carried out every six years, interviewed more than 3,000 workers between the ages of 20 and 60. Just over half (52%) were concerned about losing their job. 

The biggest concern among respondents to the survey, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, was a reduction in pay, closely followed by a loss of control over their job status. Just under a third (31%) were afraid of unfair treatment at work.

Public sector workers – for the first time since 1997 – were more concerned about losing their jobs than those in the private sector. They were also more concerned about deskilling, pay cuts, being given less interesting work and having less of a say over their job.

One of the key impacts of the recession has been the way in which the volume of work has intensified, due in large part to technological change, the survey suggested. Forty per cent of workers said they worked at very high speeds for 75% of their time at work, compared with just 23% saying the same in 2007.

Workplaces with the most content, least anxious staff were those where employers gave staff more involvement in decision-making at work, researchers said.

Responding to the survey, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that the decline in engagement and job satisfaction could create problems for employers in terms of their workplace culture.

He said: “We need to take the findings of the Government’s latest survey very seriously indeed. Too many recent and spectacular failures – from the banking crisis to public sector scandals like that affecting the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust – are almost entirely born of problems of culture.” 

“Although profoundly different in many ways, they have common roots in issues of trust, empowerment and engagement. What’s good for people is good for business – and if we can embrace that truth to build cultures in which people want to work and are unified by a common purpose, we can not only prevent catastrophes, we can truly build more sustainable economic growth.”

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