Long-term threat of getting pink slip gives older workers the blues

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec. 9 : A recent study has found employees believing for several years that they will lose their jobs leads to heightened levels of fear and distress amongst them.

The study has been published in the journal Society and Mental Health. "Our data give us the unique opportunity to examine to observe how the persistence of job insecurity is related to greater psychological distress in later life," said lead author Sarah Burgard from the Institute for Social Research.

According to researchers, persistent job insecurity that extends over a 25-year career--and the chronic employment stress-- is a reality for many Americans.

Unlike previous studies that tracked workers for only a few years, the University of Michigan researchers followed the same people for 25 years.

They used data from the Americans' Changing Lives study, in which nearly 435 people completed five surveys from 1989 to 2011 about how they felt during the past week and any concerns about job security.

The participants were interviewed before and after the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009) to capture their perceptions of their job standing in the wake of that massive downturn.

The findings indicated that stress from perceived job insecurity was high among minorities and those without a high school degree.

In addition, older workers may experience distress due to their circumstances. Burgard said that age discrimination or an employer's perception that health problems could become more prevalent later in life could endanger this older segment's ability to keep a job.

When researchers adjusted the findings based on age, race and educational attainment, among other factors, the respondents' health changed significantly more for those who were persistently concerned about job loss.

In times like these, employers and managers can do several things to help workers stay healthy even if job threats loom, the researchers said.

"Those who face the worst burden are the ones who have faced uncertainty the longest and it is important to think about the costs of restructuring a labor force and social supports in ways that create such vulnerable workers," she said.

Source: ANI