Dealing with job insecurity: 5 ways to be proactive about it

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Job insecurity or instability is the “overall concern about the continued existence of (the) your job in the future” (Hassard, Teoh and Cox, OSH Wiki). This situation can be due to many things – a shifting economy, a changing market, or what we are experiencing right now: an ongoing pandemic – which can lead to layoffs, downsizing, outsourcing or even company closure. It can also be due to a corporate shakeup because of new leadership, merger or a take-over. It is prevalent for seasonal, temporary and part-time employees as well as contractual and freelance workers.

Job insecurity is actually becoming more common nowadays because of the shifting nature of the job market. Experts tell us that a “job for life” is not something we should expect anymore. The trend is going towards having two or more jobs at the same time, or being able to shift quickly to a related or alternative job.

Everyone at one point or another in their career, can be faced with job insecurity. If you’re scared that you might be losing your job any time soon, here are a few tips for managing stress and staying on top of the situation.

How to deal with job insecurity

  1. Sustain your health

    Coping with uncertainty puts a heavy toll on your mental and physical health. This is why it is important to look after yourself during this period. In times of uncertainty, do your best to stay positive and upbeat. Here are some strategies:

    • Surround yourself with positive people. The worst you can do is to keep your worries bottled up. Talk to family and friends who can provide unbiased and realistic advice as well as encouragement.
    • See a professional – You don’t have to be on the brink of a breakdown to seek the help from a counsellor or a career coach. These kinds of services are free to permanent residents in Manitoba:
    • Build healthy habits – Never discount the power of good nutrition and mental hygiene. The food that we eat and the thoughts that we cultivate give us strength as well as influence our moods and decision-making skills. In these times, maintain a balanced diet or better yet, consult your doctor for advice on proper nutrition and stress-relieving strategies. Activities like regular exercise, meditation, yoga, or prayer can help you immensely. Read Emotional hygiene: 5 ways to keep your mind clean and healthy for more tips to develop a resilient mind.
  2. Demonstrate your value

    Demotivation can creep up on you when you feel that you will soon be terminated from work. Resist the urge to slack off. You’ll be giving them more reason to phase you out. Do your best work at all times. Exceptional work is always memorable. If you are in a term or probationary position, it can convince your employer to extend your term or offer you a permanent position. If you’re a contractual employee or a freelancer, this can lead to more projects in the future. But even if you do get terminated, doing your best at work is always a positive. Remember that you will need a recommendation or referral to get a new job. Having achieved something of note will be great on a recommendation letter or your resume. Best of all, you can leave the company with your head held high when your term ends.

  3. Make a new plan

    Job insecurity is especially stressful because it can feel like the situation is out of your control. Take back your power by actively directing your life. Plan, set new goals and make a clear action plan. Watch this video from GCFLearnFree.org to learn how to develop a SMART career plan:

  4. Keep yourself fresh and relevant

    Follow your life plan and keep learning. Empower yourself with current knowledge and relevant skills. Don’t forget to improve your English continuously. Communication skills are important in any job. No one should be complacent in their position even if it is a stable one. In the current job market, change is the only thing that’s constant. The only way to stay on your feet is to be positive, adaptable and competent.

  5. Be open to opportunities

    Explore job opportunities within the company or organization you’re working for. See if there are other departments that can use your skills. If there are no internal opportunities, conduct a regular job search on your free time or during weekends. Actively network by attending job fairs, lectures and symposia. Keep your LinkedIn profile and resume up-to-date (have it ready at all times so you can quickly apply should an opportunity present itself).

  6. Save money

    Maintain an emergency fund to keep you afloat should you suddenly lose your job. It’s a big chunk off of your worries that you have enough money to pay for rent, food and other basic necessities while looking for a job. Read Do I really need an emergency fund? to have an idea of how much to save.

  7. Know your worth

    Stop thinking negative thoughts and don’t put yourself down. No one will benefit from this, especially not you. Instead of indulging in self-pity, use your time on activities that will help strengthen your mind. Try to have a broader view about life. You are not your job (even if it sometimes feels like it) and there is more to life than work. You know that you are capable of so much more. Your time will come too, just stay positive.

 
Article updated October 14, 2020.
 
Sources: Living with a lack of job security, MindTools; Job insecurity stress, educba; and The perpetual anxiety of never knowing if my job will be abolished: How I deal with job insecurity, SonyaG, Offbeat home and life. Accessed September 12, 2019.

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