Job Loss, Human Capital Job Feature, and Work Condition Job Feature as Distinct Job Insecurity Constructs

Article excerpt

The projected growth of new technologies, increasing use of automation, and continued consolidation of healthrelated services suggest that continued study of job insecurity is needed for health care professionals. Using a sample of 178 medical technologists over a 5-year period, this study's findings extend earlier work by Blau and Sharp (2000) and suggest that job loss insecurity, human capital job feature insecurity, and work condition job feature insecurity are related but distinct types of job insecurity. A seven-item measure of job loss insecurity, a four-item measure of human capital job feature insecurity, and a four-item measure of work condition job feature insecurity were analyzed. Confirmatory factor analysis using a more heterogeneous sample of 447 working adults supported this threefactor structure. Using correlation and path analysis, different significant relationships of antecedent variables and subsequent organizational withdrawal cognitions to these three types of job insecurity were found. J Allied Health. 2004; 33:31-41.

IN A 1995 POLL,1 the top source of employee stress cited was job insecurity (i.e., fear of losing one's job). To support that job security increasingly is disappearing for many, Pearce2 found that the growth rate of the temporary help industry was almost twice the growth rate of the U.S. gross national product from 1970 to 1984. Current worker concern about job insecurity can be found across many different industries in the United States, including health care.3 Despite the current identified employee shortages in such health care fields as nursing, radiologie technology, pharmacy, and medical technology,4-6 continued hospital and health care facility merger activity facilitates job insecurity perceptions.7,8 In addition, the projected growth of new technologies, use of robotics and automation, and continued consolidation of health care-related services6 will continue to make job insecurity an important issue for many health care employees. Job insecurity perceptions are not confined to the United States; they also are found in Great Britain, Israel, Holland, and Finland.9-11 The purpose of this study is to explore further the dimensionality of job insecurity beyond a paper by Blau and Sharp.12

Using a sample of medical technologists over a 3-year period (1995-1997), Blau and Sharp12 operationalized job loss insecurity versus job feature insecurity using two-item and one-item measures and found support for their distinctiveness. The present study uses the same general sample of medical technologists over a later time frame (1996-2000) and a new heterogeneous sample of working adults to test for distinguishing two types of job feature insecurity, human capital and work condition, from job loss insecurity, using an expanded job insecurity item domain. To distinguish the current study further from Blau and Sharp,12 there is minimal variable overlap.

Job Insecurity Research

DEFINING JOB INSECURITY

In a comprehensive treatment of the job insecurity construct, Greenhalgh and Rosenblattn presented a multidimension definition of job insecurity with a model summarizing antecedents, nature, and impact, including organizational consequences, of job insecurity. Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt13 defined job insecurity as "perceived powerlessness to maintain desired continuity in a threatened job situation." Other definitions of job insecurity support the internalized perceptual nature of this variable.14,15 Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt13 defined threat to one's job based on severity of the threat, which included considering whether job loss was permanent versus temporary and whether the whole job was lost (job loss) versus six identified job features (i.e., career progress, income stream, status/self-esteem, autonomy, resources, and community). Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt13 noted that loss of job features was an important but often overlooked aspect of job insecurity.

Consistent with Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt's'13 distinction of job loss versus job feature insecurity, Johnson et al16 empirically found "high-source level" insecurity (job insecurity associated with reorganization and decline) to be related but distinct from "low-source level" insecurity (job insecurity associated with arbitrary supervision and technologic change). …