•19% of nurses are working longer hours to impress managers – an increase from 13% in 2009
•Job security is key to professional fulfilment – employers urged to motivate staff through challenging times with better mentoring and training programmes
More than a fifth of nurses are worried about losing their jobs, according to new research from specialist recruiter Randstad Care.
In a study of over 2,000 British employees, 23% of those surveyed said they felt insecure about their jobs. Nurses were slightly below the UK average, with 21% reporting a lack of job security.
Over the last five years, there has been a steady increase in job insecurity among nurses. In 2007, 17% of nurses felt insecure, a figure which rose to 19% in 2009, and then rose again in 2014 to 21% of the workforce – suggesting that nurses are increasingly worried about the threat of job cuts as part of Government austerity measures.
But nurses are not as worried about losing their jobs as social workers and other public sector professionals. Nurses reported lower levels of job insecurity than social care workers (22%) and those employed in general government administration roles such as defence (26%), which are expected to experience a 30-40% reduction in their workforce over the next five years. This could be a result of the NHS having so far been protected from spending cuts in the 2010 and 2013 Spending Reviews.
Victoria Short, managing director of Randstad Care, said: “Nursing may have been protected from some of the large-scale job cuts that other sectors have experienced, but that doesn’t mean they feel safe. Many are coping with higher patient-to-nurse ratios and the increased pressures that come from heavier workloads. And these results show that there is also a psychological element to this, with many nurses finishing each shift with a growing sense of unease about their future job security.”
Coping with job insecurity
The findings suggest that nurses are facing increasingly challenging working conditions. More nurses are working longer hours now (19%) than in 2009 (13%). In addition, more nurses are staying in their jobs for fear of being vulnerable to First-In, First-Out policies now (30%) than in 2009 (19%), suggesting that reduced staffing levels and increasing workloads are having a knock-on effect on nurses’ sense of job security.
There has also been an increase in nurses considering more drastic measures to combat a lack of job security. More nurses would consider moving region in search of better job opportunities now (9%) than in 2009 (4%).
Victoria Short continued: “Nurses are lucky that their employment opportunities are spread evenly around the country, making them more mobile than many other sectors. This freedom is one reason why we have previously found that nurses are happier than most other sectors when it comes to their sense of career progression.
“But we know from consultants across our business that the best candidates are moving around more to advance their careers, meaning that organisations need to act quickly to attract and retain talented staff.”
Figure 1: Proportion of workers worried about losing their jobs by sector, 2014
SectorProportion of insecure workers
Job Security and Professional Fulfilment
Job security is a key factor in professional fulfilment and a vital part of a fulfilling career. Academic research suggests that a lack of job security is often associated with lower well-being at work. In addition, job security among the workforce is important for employers because it increases employee motivation, productivity and reduces the likelihood of staff taking time off work due to illness.
Victoria Short continued: “Job security isn’t just a concern for candidates – it represents a serious risk for employers too. Firstly, if staff don’t feel secure in their jobs, they are more likely to look for something else. Any organisation is only as successful as the people who work there, so it’s vital that managers retain valued staff as best they can. Secondly, professional fulfilment increases productivity at work, which can bring strong benefits to any organisation. In order to reassure their best staff, it’s vital that managers support staff as best they can through training and mentoring programmes.”
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