Last month, a study by jobsite StepStone & KU Leuven unveiled that 8 in 10 employees felt socially isolated during the Corona crisis. Now, follow-up research highlights another key consequence of the crisis: job insecurity. One in four of respondents fears they will soon lose their job. Half worries about negative changes in job content in the near future.
23% is afraid of losing their job in the near future
When asked how the respondents feel about individual job insecurity – e.g. the fear of being fired, it is clear that a remarkable number has a pessimistic outlook. Shy of a quarter (23%) says they are currently afraid of losing their job during the corona crisis.
Almost half of the surveyed employees (48%) worried about potential aspects of their job changing in a negative way due to the COVID crisis, without fearing actual job loss.
Belgians are even more pessimistic about national job insecurity
Data on national job insecurity – how respondents think other Belgians feel about (keeping) their job – shows an even more unsettling view. A staggering 69% thinks there is a general feeling in Belgium that many people will lose their jobs.
Regarding the negative impact of corona on valued job aspects, the trend is very similar, as well. More than half (59%) state that there are many who think that their job will change for the worse in the near future, while 64% believes many people are uncertain about the characteristics and employment conditions of their job in the future.
When taking a look at the respondents’ answers, the retention of the job itself – rather than the negative impact and its effects – is perceived as a greater concern.
Older employees and blue-collar workers worry more
We notice an even more negative outlook within certain groups for national job insecurity: blue-collar workers and less skilled white-collar workers have a more negative view, on average, than white-collar workers who are more skilled or higher educated. There were no clear differences between Dutch- or French-speaking participants, nor in gender. Noticeable was though, that the older an employee is, the more negative their perception is.
In general, employees with a more precarious position on the labor market worry more about keeping their job, as well as about national job insecurity.
National job insecurity is linked to a feeling of distrust in the government
For a staggering 38%, national job insecurity is related to a feeling that the Belgian government has not delivered on its promises, and how it has handled the COVID-19 crisis in general. Moreover, respondents with a negative outlook on national job insecurity, stated that they have also done less for charities, than they did before the pandemic.
On a more individual scale, 31% of people who are individually job insecure, also feel that their employer has not kept their promises. A greater sense of personal job insecurity increases the distrust in the employer.
More generally speaking, respondents with a more negative outlook regarding job insecurity levels in Belgium or individual job insecurity levels attested to having lower satisfaction in life, on average.
This study was performed in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Hans De Witte and dra. Anahí Van Hootegem of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of KU Leuven (Research Group Work, Organisational & Personnel Psychology; WOPP-O2L).
The data were collected by means of an online survey at the peak of the second Corona wave in Belgium (28 July – 9 August 2020). In total 2845 respondents participated in this study (languages: 66% Dutch, 26% French and 8% English).
The sample was mainly highly educated (67 % diploma of higher education). About 64% had a higher-level white-collar job (branches like: science, health, education, administration, ICT), 27% had a lower level white collar job (e.g. administrative support), and 9% a blue-collar job. About 68% worked in the private sector, 20% in the public sector and 8% were self-employed (5% answered: ‘other’). 42% of the respondents were male and 58% were female, and the mean age was 45 years.