The Joint Importance of Secure and Satisfying Work: Insights from Three Studies

  • Mindy K. ShossEmail author
  • Bradley J. Brummel
  • Tahira M. Probst
  • Lixin Jiang
Original Paper


Concerns about job insecurity are on the rise given changes in the technological, political, and economic context of work. Building on the ideas of resource value and threat from Conservation of Resources theory (Hobfoll, Am Psychol 44:13–24, 1989), we proposed that job satisfaction moderates the relationship between job insecurity and various emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral outcomes. While job insecurity reflects a threat to one’s job, job satisfaction captures the value of the resources provided by one’s job. We expected those most satisfied with their jobs to be most negatively impacted by job insecurity. We found support for the interactive effects of job insecurity and job satisfaction on well-being, turnover intent attitudes and behaviors (i.e., job search), affective commitment, and organization-directed counterproductive work behaviors across three methodologically distinct studies, which together encompass data from over 24,000 workers from 31 countries. Our findings suggest that job insecurity and job satisfaction combined contribute to the most desirable outcomes. We discuss implications for organizational practice and labor policy, which have typically focused on job insecurity or job satisfaction instead of both together.


Job insecurity Job satisfaction Conservation of resources theory Well-being Turnover intentions 



Study 2 was partially funded by an Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professorship awarded to the third author by Washington State University. The authors wish to thank Sergio Lopez-Bohle and Nicholas J. Gailey for their assistance with study 2 data collection.


  1. Anderson, C. J., & Pontusson, J. (2007). Workers, worries, and welfare states: social protection and job insecurity in 15 OECD countries. European Journal of Political Research, 46, 211–235. Scholar
  2. Atinc, G., Simmering, M. J., & Kroll, M. J. (2012). Control variable use and reporting in macro and micro management research. Organizational Research Methods, 15, 57–74. Scholar
  3. Bacharach, S., Bamberger, P., Biron, M., & Horowitz-Rozen, M. (2008). Perceived agency in retirement and retiree drinking behavior: job satisfaction as a moderator. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 376–386. Scholar
  4. Becker, T. E., Atinc, G., Breaugh, J. A., Carlson, K. D., Edwards, J. R., & Spector, P. E. (2015). Statistical control in correlational studies: 10 essential recommendations for organizational researchers. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Advance online publication, 37, 157–167. Scholar
  5. Becker, T. E. (2016). Potential Problems in the Statistical Control of Variables in Organizational Research: A Qualitative Analysis With Recommendations. Organizational Research Methods, 8(3), 274–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennett, R. J., & Robinson, S. L. (2000). Development of a measure of workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 349–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernerth, J. B., & Aguinis, H. (2016). A critical review and best-practice recommendations for control variable usage. Personnel Psychology, 69, 229–283. Scholar
  8. Berntson, E., Näswall, K., & Sverke, M. (2010). The moderating role of employability in the association between job insecurity and exit, voice, loyalty and neglect. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 31(2), 215–230. Scholar
  9. Bowling, N. A., & Hammond, D. G. (2008). A meta-analytic examination of the construct validity of the Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire Job Satisfaction Subscale. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 63–77. Scholar
  10. Carsten, J. M., & Spector, P. E. (1987). Unemployment, job satisfaction, and employee turnover: a meta-analytic test of the Muchinsky model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72(3), 374–381. Scholar
  11. Cascio, W. F. (2003). Changes in worker, work, and organizations. Handbook of Psychology, 16, 399–422. Scholar
  12. Cheng, G. H. L., & Chan, D. K. S. (2008). Who suffers more from job insecurity? A meta-analytic review. Applied Psychology, 57, 272–303. Scholar
  13. Clark, A., & Postel-Vinay, F. (2009). Job security and job protection. Oxford Economic Papers, 61, 207–239. Scholar
  14. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385–396. Scholar
  15. Conway, J. M., & Lance, C. E. (2010). What Reviewers Should Expect from Authors Regarding Common Method Bias in Organizational Research. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(3), 325–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cranny, C. J., Smith, P. C., & Stone, E. (1992). Job satisfaction: how people feel about their jobs. Administrative Science Quarterly, 39(1), 186–189.Google Scholar
  17. Crede, M., Chernyshenko, O. S., Stark, S., Dalal, R. S., & Bashshur, M. (2007). Job satisfaction as a mediator: an assessment of job satisfaction’s position within the nomological network. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 80, 515–538. Scholar
  18. Dalal, R. S., Baysinger, M., Brummel, B. J., & LeBreton, J. M. (2012). The relative importance of employee engagement, other job attitudes and trait affect as predictors of overall employee job performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(Issue Supplement S1), E295–E325. Scholar
  19. Davis, P. R., Trevor, C. O., & Feng, J. (2015). Creating a more quit-friendly national workforce? Individual layoff history and voluntary turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1434–1455. Scholar
  20. De Cuyper, N., Mäkikangas, A., Kinnunen, U., Mauno, S., & Witte, H. D. (2012). Cross-lagged associations between perceived external employability, job insecurity, and exhaustion: Testing gain and loss spirals according to the conservation of resources theory. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 770–788. Scholar
  21. De Witte, H. (1999). Job insecurity and psychological well-being: review of the literature and exploration of some unresolved issues. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8, 155–177. Scholar
  22. De Witte, H., Pienaar, J., & De Cuyper, N. (2016). Review of 30 years of longitudinal studies on the association between job insecurity and health and well-being: is there causal evidence? Australian Psychologist, 51(1), 18–31. Scholar
  23. Debus, M. E., Probst, T. M., König, C. J., & Kleinmann, M. (2012). Catch me if I fall! Country-level resources in the job insecurity-job attitudes link. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 690–698. Scholar
  24. Dekker, S. W. A., & Schaufeli, W. B. (1995). The effects of job insecurity on psychological health and withdrawal: a longitudinal study. Australian Psychologist, 30, 57–63. Scholar
  25. Dolbier, C. L., Webster, J. W., McCalister, K. T., Mallon, M. W., & Steinhardt, M. A. (2005). Reliability and validity of a single item measure of overall job satisfaction. American Journal of Health Promotion, 19(3), 194–198. Scholar
  26. Ellonen, N., & Nätti, J. (2015). Job insecurity and the unemployment rate: micro- and macro-level predictors of perceived job insecurity among Finnish employees 1984-2008. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 36, 51–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Etzion, D., Eden, D., & Lapidot, Y. (1998). Relief from job stressors and burnout: reserve service as a respite. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(4), 577–585. Scholar
  28. Faber, H. S. (2005). Short(er) shrift: the decline in worker-firm attachment in the United States. In K. Newman (Ed.), Laid off, laid low: Political and economic consequences of employment insecurity (pp. 10–37). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A. G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G* Power 3.1: tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41(4), 1149–1160. Scholar
  30. Goldschein, E., & Bhasin, K. (2011). 14 surprising ways employees cost their companies in the workplace. Business Insider. Retrieved on November 15, 2018 from
  31. Goodman, J. S., & Blum, T. C. (1996). Assessing the non-random sampling effects of subject attrition in longitudinal research. Journal of Management, 22, 627–652. Scholar
  32. Griffeth, R., Steel, R., Allen, D., & Bryan, N. (2005). The development of a multidimensional measure of job market cognitions: the employment opportunity index (EOI). Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 335–349. Scholar
  33. Griffeth, R. W., Hom, P. W., & Gaertner, S. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents and Correlates of Employee Turnover: Update, Moderator Tests, and Research Implications for the Next Millennium. Journal of Management, 26(3), 463–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Halbesleben, J. R. B., Neveu, J.-P., Paustian-Underdahl, S., & Westman, M. (2014). Getting to the “COR”: understanding the role of resources in conservation of resources theory. Journal of Management, 25, 1334–1364. Scholar
  35. Hanisch, K. A. (1992). The Job Descriptive Index revisited: questions about the question mark. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 377–382. Scholar
  36. Hanisch, K. A., & Hulin, C. L. (1991). General attitudes and organizational withdrawal: an evaluation of a causal model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 39(1), 110–128. Scholar
  37. Hayes, J., & Lewis, P. (2014). Employment protection under fire: labour market deregulation and employment in the European Union. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 35, 587–607. Scholar
  38. Hellgren, J., Sverke, M., & Isaksson, K. (1999). A two-dimensional approach to job insecurity: consequences for employee attitudes and well-being. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8, 179–195. Scholar
  39. Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: a new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44, 13–24. Scholar
  40. Huang, G. H., Wellman, N., Ashford, S. J., Lee, C., & Wang, L. (2017). Deviance and exit: the organizational costs of job insecurity and moral disengagement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(1), 26–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Iaffaldano, M. T., & Muchinsky, P. M. (1985). Job satisfaction and job performance: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 97(2), 251–273. Scholar
  42. ILO. (2009). World of work report 2009: the global jobs crisis and beyond. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  43. Ironson, G. H., Smith, P. C., Brannick, M. T., Gibson, W. M., & Paul, K. B. (1989). Construction of a job in general scale: a comparison of global, composite, and specific measures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 193–200. Scholar
  44. Jacobson, D., & Hartley, J. (1991). Mapping the context. In J. Hartley, D. Jacobson, B. Klandermans, & T. Van Vuuren (Eds.), Job insecurity: Coping with jobs at risk (pp. 1–22). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Jahoda, M. (1981). Work, employment, and unemployment: values, theories, and approaches in social research. American Psychologist, 36, 184–191. Scholar
  46. Jiang, L., & Lavaysse, L. M. (2018). Cognitive and affective job insecurity: a meta-analysis and a primary study. Journal of Management, 44, 2307–2342.
  47. Jiang, L., & Probst, T. M. (2014). Organizational communication: a buffer in times of job insecurity? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 35, 557–579. Scholar
  48. Jiang, L., & Probst, T. M. (2017). The rich get richer and the poor get poorer: country-and state-level income inequality moderates the job insecurity-burnout relationship. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(4), 672–681. Scholar
  49. Johns, G. (1997). Contemporary research on absence from work: correlates, causes, and consequences. In C. L. Cooper & I. T. Robertson (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 115–173). Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  50. Johns, G. (2006). The essential impact of context on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 31, 386–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Jones, K. (2017). The most desireable employee benefits. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved on October 17, 2018 from
  52. Judge, T. A., Hulin, C. L., & Dalal, R. S. (2012). Job satisfaction and job affect. In S. W. J. Kozlowski (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 496–525). New York: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  53. Kalleberg, A. L. (1977). Work values and job rewards: a theory of job satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 42, 124–143. Scholar
  54. Kalleberg, A. L. (2011). Good jobs. Bad jobs: the rise of polarized and precarious employment systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  55. Kausto, J., Elo, A.-L., Lipponen, J., & Elovainio, M. (2005). Moderating effects of job insecurity in the relationships between procedural justice and employee well-being: gender differences. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 14, 431–452. Scholar
  56. Keim, A. C., Landis, R. S., Pierce, C. A., & Earnest, D. R. (2014). Why do employees worry about their jobs? A meta-analytic review of predictors of job insecurity. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 19(3), 269–290. Scholar
  57. Kinnunen, U., Feldt, T., & Mauno, S. (2003). Job insecurity and self-esteem: evidence from cross-lagged relations in a 1-year longitudinal sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 1–16.
  58. Klandermans, B., Hesselink, J. K., & van Vuuren, T. (2010). Employment status and job insecurity: on the subjective appraisal of an objective status. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 31, 557–577. Scholar
  59. Kristof-Brown, A. L., Zimmerman, R. D., & Johnson, E. C. (2005). Consequences of individuals' fit at work: a meta-analysis of person–job, person–organization, person–group, and person–supervisor fit. Personnel Psychology, 58(2), 281–342. Scholar
  60. Kunin, T. (1955). The construction of a new type of attitude measure. Personnel Psychology, 8, 65–77. Scholar
  61. Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 1297–1349). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  62. Lykken, D. T. (1968). Statistical significance in psychological research. Psychological Bulletin, 70, 151–159. Scholar
  63. Manski, C. F., & Straub, J. D. (2000). Worker perceptions of job insecurity in the mid-1990s: Evidence from the survey of economic expectations. The Journal of Human Resources, 35, 447–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., Mäkikangas, A., & Nätti, J. (2005). Psychological consequences of fixed-term employment and perceived job insecurity among health care staff. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 14(3), 209–237. Scholar
  65. Meyer, J. P., & Allen, N. J. (1997). Commitment in the workplace: theory, research and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  66. Newbert, S. L. (2006). Empirical research on the resource-based view of the firm: an assessment and suggestions for future research. Strategic Management Journal, 1–27.
  67. Newman, K. S. (2005). Introduction: high anxiety. In K. Newman (Ed.), Laid off, laid low: political and economic consequences of employment insecurity (pp. 1–9). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  68. OECD. (2013). Well-being in the workplace: measuring job quality. In How’s life? 2013: Measuring well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing. Scholar
  69. OECD. (2015). Better life initiative: executive summary. Retrieved from
  70. Olsen, K. M., Kalleberg, A. L., & Nesheim, T. (2010). Perceived job quality in the United States, Great Britain, Norway and West Germany, 1989-2005. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 16(3), 221–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Payne, S. C., Cook, A. L., & Diaz, I. (2012). Understanding childcare satisfaction and its effect on workplace out-comes: the convenience factor and the mediating role of work-family conflict. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85, 225–244. Scholar
  72. Probst, T. M. (2000). Wedded to the job: moderating effects of job involvement on the consequences of job insecurity. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5, 63–73. Scholar
  73. Probst, T. M. (2002). The impact of job insecurity on employee work attitudes, job adaptation, and organizational withdrawal behaviors. In J. M. Brett & F. Drasgow (Eds.), The psychology of work: Theoretically based empirical research (pp. 141–168). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  74. Probst, T. (2003). Development and validation of the job security index and the job security satisfaction scale: a classical test theory and IRT approach. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 76, 451–467. Scholar
  75. Probst, T. M. (2004). Safety and insecurity: exploring the moderating effect of organizational safety climate. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 9, 3–10. Scholar
  76. Probst, T. M., & Jiang, L. (2017). European flexicurity policies: multilevel effects on employee psychosocial reactions to job insecurity. Safety Science, 100, 83–90. Scholar
  77. Probst, T. M., Gailey, N. J., Jiang, L., & Lopez-Bohle, S. (2017). Psychological capital: buffering the longitudinal curvilinear effects of job insecurity on performance. Safety Science, 100, 74–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Ray, D. (1998). Development economics. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Rupp, D. E., Shao, R., Jones, K. S., & Liao, H. (2014). The utility of a multifoci approach to the study of organizational justice: a meta-analytic investigation into the consideration of normative rules, moral accountability, bandwidth-fidelity, and social exchange. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 123, 159–185. Scholar
  80. Sackett, P. R. (2002). The structure of counterproductive work behaviors: dimensionality and relationships with facets of job performance. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10, 5–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Schaufeli, W. B., Leiter, M. P., Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1996). The Maslach Burnout Inventory: general survey. In C. Maslach, S. E. Jack- son, & M. P. Leiter (Eds.), Maslach Burnout Inventory (3rd ed., pp. 19–26). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  82. Schleicher, D. J., Watt, J. D., & Greguras, G. J. (2004). Reexamining the job satisfaction-performance relationship: the complexity of attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 165–177. Scholar
  83. Schleicher, D. J., Hansen, S. D., & Fox, K. E. (2010). Job attitudes and work values. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), APA handbook of industrial organizational psychology volume 3: Maintaining, expanding, and contracting the organization (pp. 137–190). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  84. Schmidt, S. (2009). Shall we really do it again? The powerful concept of replication is neglected in the social sciences. Review of General Psychology, 13(2), 90–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Siemsen, E., Roth, A., & Oliveira, P. (2010). Common Method Bias in Regression Models With Linear, Quadratic, and Interaction Effects. Organizational Research Methods, 13(3), 456–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Shoss, M. K. (2017). Job insecurity: an integrative review and agenda for future research. Journal of Management, 9(20), 165–177.Google Scholar
  87. Shoss, M. K., Jundt, D. K., Kobler, A., & Reynolds, C. (2016). Doing bad to feel better? An investigation of between- and within-person perceptions of CWB as a coping tactic. Journal of Business Ethics, 137, 571–587. Scholar
  88. Shoss, M. K., Jiang, L., & Probst, T. M. (2018). Bending without breaking: a two-study examination of employee resilience in the face of job insecurity. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 23, 112–126. Scholar
  89. Smith, P. C., Kendall, L. M., & Hulin, C. (1969). The measurement of satisfaction in work and behavior. Chicago: Raud McNally.Google Scholar
  90. Snijders, T. A. B., & Bosker, R. J. (2012). Multilevel analysis: An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling (2nd ed.). Washington, D. C: Sage.Google Scholar
  91. Spector, P. E., Fox, S., Penney, L. M., Bruursema, K., Goh, A., & Kessler, S. (2006). The dimensionality of counterproductivity: are all counterproductive behaviors created equal? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 446–460. Scholar
  92. Sverke, M., & Hellgren, J. (2002). The nature of job insecurity: understanding employment uncertainty on the brink of a new millennium. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 51, 23–42. Scholar
  93. Sverke, M., Hellgren, J., & Näswall, K. (2002). No security: a meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(3), 242–264. Scholar
  94. The World Bank. (2018). Unemployment, total (% of total labor force). Retrieved from
  95. Van Hoye, G., & Saks, A. M. (2008). Job search as goal-directed behavior: objectives and methods. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 358–367. Scholar
  96. Vander Elst, T., Van den Broeck, A., De Cuyper, N., & De Witte, H. (2014). On the reciprocal relationship between job insecurity and employee well-being: mediation by perceived control? Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(4), 671–693. Scholar
  97. Vander Elst, T., De Cuyper, N., Baillien, E., Niesen, W., & De Witte, H. (2016). Perceived control and psychological contract breach as explanations of relationships between job insecurity, job strain and coping reactions: towards a theoretical integration. Stress and Health, 32, 110–116. Scholar
  98. Wanous, J. P., Reichers, A. E., & Hudy, M. J. (1997). Overall job satisfaction: how good are single-item measures? Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 247–252. Scholar
  99. Warr, P. (1987). Work, unemployment, and mental health. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Westover, J. H. (2012). Comparative welfare state impacts on work quality and job satisfaction. International Journal of Social Economics, 39(7), 503–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Wright, T. A., & Cropanzano, R. (1998). Emotional exhaustion as a predictor of job performance and voluntary turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(3), 486. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of TulsaTulsaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWashington State University VancouverVancouverUSA
  4. 4.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations