Employment Insecurities

Since the early 1990s, the organized employment structure has undergone tremendous changes with a steep rise in the use of contract workers over permanent workers. This process has created a situation of increased wage inequality, discrimination, job insecurity, and other problems related to it in the labour market. The lower wage given to the workers is often due to cost-cutting rather than differences in their efficiency or productivity. Due to the economic crisis the increasing unemployment rates and increasing flexibility of labor markets there is an existing threat to employment and further threat with income, social networks, and status. This article will analyse how employment insecurities have been present overtime now and how to cope with it. This article also analyses the existing job market and the impact it has on informal employees with possible remedies.

Introduction

Casual workers are the most disadvantaged group of workers as a large proportion of them in below poverty line income, and they are stuck in the lowest labour standard in the country. An Annual Survey done by ASI data suggested that employment through contractors constitutes 23% of the total organized workforce compared to 11% in 1992.

Indians are willing to give up 10% of the salary for job security. According to the Randstad report, 52% of the workforce is willing to forfeit over 10% of their salary, to have job security. According to the findings from the Universum India Talent Survey 2019, job security, work-life balance and international exposure have been key factors driving Indian professionals to land a job. Salary and employee benefits are the top concerns of the workforce. 45% of the employees preferred to stay on with the current employer-based on job security. Nearly 23% of the employees in India are open to security over compensation trade-off.[1]

Job Insecurity in India

There are several pointers to the job crisis in India. One of them is the number of workers between the age group of 18 to 30 has risen to 7.07 million from 5.8 million in 2017-18 under MGNREGA implying the availability of more labor at a cheaper cost. According to a study conducted by the Economic Advisory Council even in the organized sector in India, there is a major preference for employing the “non-contractual” form of jobs between 2011-12 and 2017-18. It is no more about the lack of employment opportunities alone in labour market but also shifting out of agriculture and even the jobs existing or created are non-contractual ones. The biggest question we should consider answering is what quality of jobs are created and how this is going to impact the employees?

Between 2004-05 and 2011-12 it was found that labour force shifting out of agriculture its way into the construction sector. But during this period this sector was amidst a multi-year slowdown and employment opportunities are said to have severely diminished. Due to the slowdown in the economy both in rural and urban areas, trade has shifted from agriculture pushing them into seeking employment under the employment guarantee scheme.  The NSSO PLFS report shows that youth unemployment between 15 to 29 years surged from 6.1 percent in 2011-12 to 17.8 percent in 2017-18 depicting an increase in unemployment and a lack of employment opportunities. This lack has also directly impacted the job security of workers and subdued wage growth over time. This slack in the labour market has indicated a shift towards the informalisation of work relations existing even in the organized sector. Not only they are killing job security and causing mental trauma but removing other forms of social security benefits. [2]

Impact of Job Insecurity on Personality

According to the study conducted by researchers of RMIT University’s School of Management along with being detrimental to mental health, job insecurity also affects the personality of the individuals to a great extent. Chronic job insecurity can alter the personality for worse.

The study using nationally representative data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey in relation to answers about job security and personality for 1046 employees over a nine-year period.[3]

By analyzing a well-established Big Five personality framework emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and openness are considered are the five broad traits. The first three traits were majorly affected due to long-term job insecurity affecting the person’s tendency to reliably achieve goals, getting along with others, stress coping mechanisms. People with strong job insecurity usually withdraw their effort and shy away from establishing strong, positive working relationships undermining productivity in long run. People with prolonged job insecurity for over more than 4 years also were less emotionally stable, less agreeable and less conscientious. Also, the short-term consequences of job security include damage to personal well-being, physical health, sense of self-esteem. When existing jobs have the possibility of being replaced by automation, new jobs can be created as well. Employees and workers can develop the ability to reduce negative perception by investing in professional development, skills and training, and by giving career guidance. Different types of job insecurity include short-term contracts or casual work, jobs threatened by automation and positions that could be in line for redundancy. [4]

Previous research showed that insecure work includes labour-hire practices, contract and casual work and underemployment which is on the rise in Australia and globally.

Just as COVID-19 situation started a techie from Pune killed himself due to threat looming over his job and an online counseling emotional platform based out in Bangalore has said that 62% of professionals across sectors were undergoing issues such as anxiety and depression due to occupational insecurity. The study conducted by Your DOST in its 2017 survey found a spate of layoffs especially in the IT sector with a forecast of nearly six lakh jobs expected to be in three years from then. The survey had 65% inquiries from professionals who had been laid off or were insecure

about their job stability given the uncertainty in the industry. 43% among them were from the IT industry stating their experience almost nearly 2 years. “57% professionals had not even sought help from family or friends and 62.5% laid-off callers showed symptoms of either anxiety or depression with monetary insecurity adding a huge burden,” it further said.

People in IT offices are blatantly telling people to plan their future and not giving enough time for the sacked employees for the same. The societal stigma attaching to unemployment and consequent ignominy can be detrimental to the mental health of professionals. As digitization and automation become the new normal IT biggies like Infosys, Cognizant and Tech Mahindra are seeking a spate of layoffs. They hand over pink slips to thousands of employees towards cost control measures. Indian software employees and exporters are facing difficulty due to stricter work permits in the US, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. With newer technologies in AI, robotic process automation and cloud computing are helping to complete the job with less manpower, software companies to reconsider their strategies. In all, Job insecurity has the potential to cause depression and anxiety among employees.[5]

Even recently due to the coronavirus pandemic situation lockdown tripled urban unemployment rate within three weeks.[6] A full bounce back and business sentiment has shifted from negative to one of stark pessimism according to the Reserve Bank of India.[7] The government’s schemes and economic packages have created little to no effect on urban employees. The vast majority of people in urban areas are employed informally. Having no written job contracts, no regular salary they are often employed casually through job contractors, sub-contractors and temp agencies. 62-85% of employees do not have access to benefits. Even among the urban employees in private casual work, over 80% are in establishments are not even provided with employees’ provident and state insurance funds which are used to provide relief to workers during the lockdown. Informally employed workers are most affected and hence organized sector in India should provide benefits to many of these workers. But most low-income urban workers do not have access to many benefits.

Although policies to protect workers are discussed all around the world by the United Kingdom and many more countries, in a developing economy like India overcoming an economic crisis is important to save lives. Economic insecurity is fundamental to the overall well-being of vulnerable groups.[8]

Job Insecurity and Coping Mechanisms

Job security has become the biggest question in today’s employment labour market. Factors like

  • Globalisation
  • Downsizing
  • Outsourcing
  • Recession
  • Contracting, have clearly contributed to today’s reality of no assurance of job for anyone for so long. The constant feeling of losing our jobs could even pose greater health problems than the actual loss of one.
  • Dealing with insecurity related stress

Nowadays it has become very normal to work in around 10 to 12 companies before retiring. Combating stress due to lack of job security is important. Being well prepared in advance can help us face the situation better.

  • Power of positive thinking

Being optimistic is important not just for the jobs but to lead a fruitful life. When one sector closes employment opportunities there is always a way in another sector. It is finding and looking for an opportunity to do something rewarding instead of staying in an uncertain position.

  • Proactive and thinking outside the box

Being new skills to the fore in the domain that you are already working in is one way of doing it. Being adaptable to new challenges in the office and show a bevy of organizational capabilities goes a long way. Some of the desired qualities are leadership, responsibility, team and time management, optimism.

  • Being in control of the outcome

When we often go stressed due to the thinking process that we are never in control it is important to understand that we are responsible for what happens to us. Instead of sitting and worrying try and find out solutions to the problems and move forward.

Conclusion

It is not a time to cling dogmatically to libertarian ambitions but considers the current employment insecurity in the context of the impact it creates on employees. Taking into account the on-going pandemic situational impact along with the ever-present contractual labour problem, it is important to bring back old ideas of job guarantees which have great value in the current economic situation.

Questions

Q1. How to avoid being replaced in an organization?

Keeping updated and being relevant from the perspective of the job market is important to avoid being laid off for some reason. Developing a new skill set will help you to show to your prospective future employers. Realities of the job market are always changing and hence technical skills needed keeps varying. It is important to be aware of the latest developments in one’s industry and earn the newest certifications if possible.

Q2. How to avoid being replaced by robots?

The fear of job loss due to automation is common to any field of work in today’s era. It does not limit to physical labor alone and hence learning to adapt is the keystone. Understanding how to communicate with machines is an important step. Interacting with business analytics AI should know perfectly well what kind of insights we want from the machine. Understanding High-Level Concepts, improving creativity, Expanding Horizons of intelligence, Assisting and Augmenting Machines are some of the ways to cope with AI.

Q3. Why it is important to update our resume?

It is the most important and yet neglected part among professionals currently. We might or might not have job insecurity but it is always wise to update your resume. It will suddenly be relevant when we lose our job. With an updated resume we do not need to waste time but apply immediately to the next better opportunity. In the past, people were able to hold on to jobs for several decades however the situation is much different now.

Q4. How do you get rid of job insecurities?

Be proactive, Be relevant to the existing automation and innovation in the industry, Keep reading and equip yourself, do not be comfortable, build healthy work relationships and be a performer.

Q5. How to find the ideal job for you?

Asking relevant questions regarding your job to yourself improves your knowledge about you as a person and how the job complements your personality. Find out if you really love your job or is it only for social status and money you are still employed in the field. Feeling appreciated and adding value to others are key factors to ensure achieving our ideal job. Apart from all these choosing the right organization is important as well. Choosing a work environment for better mental health is more important than the monetary benefit it adds to you.

References

[1]https://www.businessinsider.in/indian-employees-are-willing-to-give-up-10-of-salary-for-job-security/articleshow/69839667.cms

[2]https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/india-job-crisis-mgnrega-economic-advisory-council-unemployment-the-rising-insecurity-6095152/

[3]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/work/this-is-how-job-insecurity-affects-your-personality/articleshow/74333754.cms

[4]https://www.ndtv.com/jobs/job-insecurity-can-change-your-personality-for-the-worse-study-2186846

[5]https://www.news18.com/news/india/job-insecurity-cause-of-depression-and-anxiety-among-india-inc-says-survey-1464633.html

[6]https://www.cmie.com/kommon/bin/sr.php?kall=warticle&dt=2020-04-07%2008:26:04&msec=770

[7]https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/PublicationsView.aspx?id=19437

[8]https://voxeu.org/article/protecting-informal-workers-urban-india

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