Job insecurity : emotional- and behavioural consequences
Van Zyl, Lelanie
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Current day organisations must revert to many measures to survive in the very competing business environment. One of these measures is to reduce the number of employees. This leads to perceptions of job insecurity, not only in the employees who are not made redundant but also in employees in so-called stable organisations who are aware of these measures being implemented in other organisations. Researchers found conflicting results of job insecurity regarding performance of employees experiencing job insecurity. On the one hand it was reported that job insecurity leads to higher job performance and on the other that it leads to lower job performance. To reconcile these conflicting findings Jordan, Ashkanasy and Hartel (2002) developed a model. In their two stage model in which they postulate that perceptions of job insecurity could lead to lower affective organisational commitment and higher job-related stress and this in turn could lead to negative coping behaviour (stage one). They then include emotional intelligence (EI) as moderator of all the links between the above mentioned constructs (stage two). They are of the opinion that employees with high EI will experience higher affective organisational commitment and lower job-related stress than employees with low EI when perceptions of job insecurity are experienced. They also postulate that employees with high EI will be less inclined to revert to negative coping behaviour. The main objective of this study was to investigate whether this model would be applicable to employees of private health care organisations in Gauteng. In the first article a literature review was conducted to determine how job insecurity, affective organisational commitment, job-related stress and coping were conceptualised as well as the relationships between these constructs. This was done to investigate the first stage of the model of Jordan et al. (2002). In the second article a literature review was conducted to determine how job insecurity, affective organisational commitment, job-related stress, coping and EI were conceptualised. The relationships between these constructs and the role of EI as moderator of these relationships were also determined. This was done to investigate the second stage of the model of Jordan et al. (2002). A non-experimental correlation research design was used. Employees of private health care organisations were the participants. The Job Insecurity Inventory, the Organisational Commitment Questionnaire, the Experience of Work Life and Circumstances Questionnaire, the Cope Questionnaire and the Emotional Intelligence Scale were used, as well as a biographical questionnaire. The SPPS program and partly STATISTIKA were used to perform the statistical analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Cronbach alpha coefficients and factor analyses were used to assess the reliability and validity of the measuring instruments. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were used to specify the relationships between the variables. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the moderating influence of emotional intelligence. It was determined that, in this specific research group, job insecurity has a negative correlation with affective organisational commitment. Job insecurity has a positive correlation with job-related stress levels. A positive correlation was found between job-related stress levels and certain negative coping behaviours, such as denial, behavioural disengagement and mental disengagement. A negative correlation was found between affective organisational commitment and negative coping behaviour, specifically the use of drugs or alcohol. All of these correlations were statistically and practically significant. It was found that job insecurity as independent variable explains 12.1% of the total variance in affective organisational commitment. It was also found that job insecurity as independent variable explains 21.1 % of the total variance in the job -related stress levels. These findings indicated that the first stage of the model of Jordan et al. (2002) could be supported. Multiple regression analyses were performed to determine the moderating effect of EI as discussed above. The results indicated that EI had only a slight but significant moderating effect on the job insecurity -affective organisational commitment relationship and no effect on the job insecurity - job-related stress relationship. The results also indicate that EI moderates the strength of the relationship between affective organisational commitment and coping behaviour to such an extent that affective organisational commitment's predictive value is reduced to closely insignificant whilst EI emerges as the primary predictor of coping behaviour (both positive and negative). This may imply that emotionally intelligent employees will tend to use more problem-focused coping behaviour irrespective of the affective organisational commitment that they experience. Although to a lesser extent in this study, it was found that emotionally intelligent employees also make use of emotion-focused coping behaviour appropriate for managing affective states associated with experienced stress. Concerning avoidant coping strategies EI significantly negatively moderates alcohol-drug disengagement as a coping strategy, meaning employees with high EI will tend not to revert to the use of drugs or alcohol as coping strategy. It was concluded that EI does not buffer employees against the emotional consequences of job insecurity in this research group, as proposed by the model of Jordan et al. (2002), but rather enables them to cope with these emotional effects using problem-focused- and emotion- focused coping strategies, but not avoidant strategies. The latter finding is in line with the proposed model of Jordan et al.(2002). Conclusions, the limitations of this research and recommendations for private health care organisations and for future research were made.