Job insecurity: assessment, causes and consequences in a South African gold mining group
Job insecurity in the workplace has become an increasingly important trend in organisational research. The appraisal of job insecurity by individuals plays a significant part in how reactions manifest in the experiences of workplace stressors, job satisfaction, positive and negative work attributes and social support. However, there is a lack of research regarding specific workplace stressors at work leading to certain outcomes like safety behaviour, turnover intention and mental health, especially within a South African working context. Job insecurity has also been classified as a workplace stressor. The existence of other stressors tends to increase the ultimate effect of insecurity for the individual. The attempts from organisational management to manage this phenomenon are therefore crucial in decreasing the negative effects of job insecurity and increasing the productivity of the organisation. In order to measure the job insecurity levels of employees, it is important to make use of valid and reliable job insecurity measures. An absence of empirical research on validity and reliability studies in terms of job insecurity in South African is evident. The main objectives of this research were: 1) to establish the psychometric properties of a measure of job insecurity in a selected gold mining company in South Africa; 2) to determine the influence of job insecurity and work stress (i.e. role conflict, clarity and overload) on worker safety performance and if coping could moderate this; 3) to investigate the theoretical and empirical relationships between job stressors (task completion ambiguity and task quality ambiguity), competency demands, employability perceptions, job satisfaction and turnover intention over time, and 4) to investigate if social support has a mediating effect between positive interpersonal attributes, negative interpersonal attributes, job insecurity and subsequent health. To achieve the first objective, a cross-sectional design was used (N = 566), including various business units of a South African-based gold mining company. The assessment of the psychometric properties of a measure of quantitative and qualitative job insecurity for employees was determined through construct (structural) equivalence, exploratory factor analysis and multivariate analysis of variance to calculate the comparison of the factor structure for the different cultural groups. For qualitative job insecurity, the scale shows low equivalence for the African languages group. Statistically significant differences were found between the levels of job insecurity of employees in terms of gender. The second objective, concerning the investigation into the relationship of work stress and job insecurity with unsafe behaviour at work, was achieved with across-sectional survey design (N = 771). The hypothesised model included the influence of role conflict, role ambiguity, role overload, and job insecurity on unsafe work behaviour. Coping was introduced as a moderator in this relationship. The results indicated that when employees experience work stress and job insecurity, their safety compliance is low. This relationship was also moderated by a coping strategy of Avoidance. To achieve the third objective, a longitudinal study was conducted and data was gathered by means of an electronic survey, with 771 employees participating at Time 1, and 345 participating at Time 2. Results for predicting employees’ turnover intentions, experience of task completion and quality ambiguity, external employability and job satisfaction made a direct contribution in predicting their turnover intention. No mediating role of job satisfaction between job stressors, competency demands and employability perceptions on the one hand and turnover intentions on the other hand, were found. Addressing the fourth objective in investigating the moderating role of social support between the relationship of experiencing positive interpersonal (communication with the manager and feedback), negative interpersonal experiences (powerlessness and interpersonal conflict), job insecurity (quantitative and qualitative) and health, was met with a longitudinal random sample of employees in different business units in one selected multi-national mining company based in South Africa (N = 771). Results for these employees indicated that all the proposed variables, except feedback from the manager, were statistically significantly related to health. No moderating effect for social support could be found over time, but it was shown that interpersonal conflict at work is a longitudinal predictor of employee health. By way of conclusion, the implications of the research were discussed and recommendations for managers and for future research were made.