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A quarter of the workforce feel insecure in their jobs – but not HR!


In the light of the recent flood of redundancy announcements, particularly in the IT, telecommunications and manufacturing sectors, one quarter of the UK’s workforce (6 million employees) feel insecure in their jobs. These are the findings of an NOP survey commissioned by recruitment company newmonday.

The flurry of negative press reports concerning these ailing industries has had a marked effect on professionals in these sectors. A huge 40 per cent of people working in these former boom industries now feel insecure in their jobs. The same proportion of staff in the engineering, manufacturing and financial sectors are also feeling the strain of the current economic climate. HR and recruitment professionals, by contrast, seem relatively unaffected: the overwhelming majority feel secure in their jobs.

Roderick Wijsmuller, Managing Director, newmonday, said: “The current economic climate is affecting workers of all ages and in all sectors and our survey reveals high levels of job insecurity amongst the UK’s working population.

“UK Plc needs to take a longer term view of performance, instead of hoping to solve short-term problems with a swathe of redundancies. This stop-go approach only serves to increase job insecurity and therefore stress, leading to less productive workers. It is also of little benefit to companies, who then need to re-staff and re-train when market conditions improve. Redundancies might well be inevitable but it is most important for companies to retain their most committed and competent managers and staff. Industry needs to take into account market projections, and focus strategy on its performance over several years, not just the next quarterly financials.”

The findings are also backed by the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).

Peter Booth, National Organiser for Manufacturing at the TGWU, commented: “Job insecurity appears to be increasing, as the survey suggests. Many in manufacturing now realise their vulnerability… Our approach is to highlight the need for a co-ordinated… strategy, [linking] industry with education and training… Success [in this] will help to allay job insecurity. Failure will intensify insecurity, and damage us all.”

The survey reveals that even young workers are concerned and stressed over their future employment. At a time when they should be entering the most carefree and exciting time of their working lives, a fifth of workers aged 16-24 and over a quarter of 25-34 year olds feel insecure working in their current industries.

The survey goes on to show that close to one third of the 45-55 age group, and a quarter of those approaching retirement, feel insecure in their current role. It would appear that workplace stress and fear of redundancy is currently affecting a whole spectrum of ages and industry sectors.

Julie Hurst, Managing Director, Work Life Balance Centre, comments: “This survey reveals that job insecurity is rife in the UK. The human cost of the current economic climate is a grave cause for concern. There has been a great deal of focus on working long hours as a cause of stress, but it is not that simple. Work related ill health is much more closely linked to people who feel a lack of control over their job. The possibility of losing one’s job is likely to add to that lack of control – leading to attendant health problems.”

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