With jobs at a premium and the cost of living continuing to rise, job security has suddenly become a main priority for employees.
The global recession has affected each and every one of us in one way or another. Sweeping job losses throughout the medical sales sector – and in the pharmaceutical industry in particular – have seen even the most experienced personnel joining the queue at the job centre. For those lucky enough to have avoided the dreaded axe, it seems to have made us appreciate our job a whole lot more.
Last year was somewhat of a breakthrough year for as far as job security is concerned. Results from last year’s Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey highlighted how job security had gone from a passing thought to one of the main motivating factors for respondents. Ranked behind salary, relationship with manager and work-life balance in the 2009 survey, job security was suddenly thrust into the top-two motivating factors last year.
It has maintained its position this year behind salary as the second highest motivating factor after pharmaceutical companies continue to introduce ‘efficiency’ plans in an attempt to sustain profits and counter bleak pipelines. During an uncertain last twelve months it would seem that satisfaction levels in job security have also improved. Job security moved from 14th position last year to 11th in the latest set of results. Are companies doing more to reassure staff their jobs are safe, or are employees learning to live with the fact that their week at work may be their last?
Attitudes towards job security have also affected respondents’ outlook on where they’d like to be within 12 months’ time – see Figure 1. In last year’s survey, 15% of respondents indicated they were searching for a move away from their current employers with 56% content to stay where they were. However, this year’s results show a slight increase in those figures with 13% of people within the medical sales sector looking for a new job and 59% happy where they are.
Its men that indicated a stronger desire to change companies with 17% wishing to move organisations and a further 24% saying it was a possibility. However, female respondents were less sure about joining a new organisation with only a tenth wishing to move away from their current employers.
The importance now placed upon job security may also arise from the fact that employees are still very mindful of a turbulent few years – despite a glimpse of light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel. Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently told a panel of directors from Yorkshire that modest economic growth in the UK would see unemployment levels stabilise this year. He also discussed the potential of a stronger recovery resulting in a sudden, sharp fall in unemployment levels and employers again going on the hunt for talented staff to meet increasing demand.
Job security works both ways. It shouldn’t be something that only staff on the ground worry about. Stability and medium to long-term assurance ensures employees are engaged and motivated enough to be committed to company goals and objectives.
Although job security may be a state of mind, there are ways of improving one’s mindset. If a company can ensure or encourage career development and progression, an employee will feel a greater sense of loyalty and commitment. With this in place a sense of dedication allows employees to focus on their individual skills and capabilities and become a consistent performer. In turn, an employer gets a happy and productive employee in the work place.
However, it’s not always that easy it? Memories of colleagues and friends being made redundant can last for a very long time. Geoffrey James, argues on the website inc.com, that job security is defined by who you are, what you do and who you trust. If you’re an individual who is happy going along with your job, undertaking everyday tasks and playing second-fiddle to other staff then you’re more than likely to receive your marching orders, James says. Individuals should strive to stand out from colleagues and be different to the majority of the workforce. “If you really want job security, there must be something about you that’s different, that makes you more relevant than anybody else who does what you do. More importantly, other people must perceive that difference and see it as valuable,” he says.
Then, of course, there’s the trust issue. Do you think you can rely on your boss not to put a red cross next to your name if there are further redundancies? James – who pens one of the world’s most-visited sales-oriented blogs – suggests a novel approach to assessing trust whilst at work or in the field. People that you speak with on a daily basis – be they family, friends, colleagues or business associates – should be placed into three categories: those who trust you completely, those who moderately trust you, and those who vaguely trust you. When these have been grouped together, remove the people in the final two categories – these are the people unlikely to return sales calls, James adds – and then calculate the number of people who you believe completely trust you. If, he says, you have more than 20 people on that list, then you have a greater sense of job security. If you haven’t, it might be time to start building some bridges.
So there you have it. Job security ultimately comes down to who you can trust and who trusts you. Can you hold on to trusted colleagues at work whilst the UK tries to climb out of a double-dip recession. Or, are the people who you believe you rely on merely providing a crocodile smile during work hours? It’s probably wise to start drawing up that list…