The present study investigates the relationship between job insecurity and well-being (psychological distress and life satisfaction), and the potential role of employability in this relationship. With regard to job insecurity, we hypothesize that job insecurity may be related to poor well-being. Regarding employability, two avenues are taken. First, we argue that employability may be beneficial in much the same way that job security is. Second, we suggest that employability may mitigate likely unfavourable consequences of job insecurity for employees’ well-being. Hypotheses are tested with a sample of 639 Belgian employees from six organizations. The results suggest that job insecurity is related to poor well-being, while no such association is found for employability. Furthermore, employability moderates the relationship between job insecurity and life satisfaction, as expected. Specifically, the model accounts for 8% of the explained variance. However, this pattern of results is not replicated for psychological distress.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The GHQ-12 included four error variances, while life satisfaction included three error variances.
Abelson, R. P. (1985). A variance explanation paradox: When a little is a lot. Psychological Bulletin, 97(1), 129–133.
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousands Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications.
Bakker, A. (2001). Hoe werkomstandigheden van invloed zijn op burnout: het WEB-model (The association between job characteristics and burnout: The Job Demand Resources Model). In C. Hoogduin, W. Schaufeli, C. Schaap & A. Bakker (Eds.), Behandelingsstrategieën bij burnout (pp. 21–39). Houten: Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum.
Bakker, A., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. (2003). Dual processes at work in a call centre: An application of the Job Demand Resources Model. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 12(4), 393–417.
Baruch, Y. (2001). Employability: A substitute for loyalty? Human Resource Development International, 4(4), 543–566.
Behling, O., & Law, K. S. (2000). Translating questionnaires and other research instruments: Problems and solutions. In Paper Series on Qualitative Applications in Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Berntson, E., & Marklund, S. (2006). The relationship between employability and subsequent health. Paper presented at the Sixth Conference on Psychology & Health, 8–10 May, Kerkrade, The Netherlands.
Berntson, E., & Marklund, S. (2007). The relationship between perceived employability and subsequent health. Work & Stress, 21(3), 279–292.
Berntson, E., Sverke, M., & Marklund, S. (2006). Predicting perceived employability: Human capital or labour market opportunities? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27(2), 223–244.
Büssing, A. (1999). Can control at work and social support moderate psychological consequences of job insecurity? Results from a quasi-experimental study in the Steel Industry. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(2), 219–242.
Cheng, Y., Chen, C. W., Chen, C. J., & Chiang, T. L. (2005). Job insecurity and its association with health among employees in the Taiwanese general population. Social Science and Medicine, 61(1), 41–52.
Conway, N., & Briner, R. B. (2002). Full-time versus part-time employees: Understanding the links between work status, the psychological contract, and attitudes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 61(2), 279–301.
Cooper, C. L. (2002). The changing psychological contract at work. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59, 355.
Crampton, S. M., & Wagner, J. A. (1994). Percept-percept inflation in microorganizational research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(1), 67–76.
De Cuyper, N., Bernhard-Oettel, C., Berntson, E., De Witte, H., & Alarco, B. (2008). Employability and employees’ well-being: Mediation by job insecurity. Journal of Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57(3), 488–509.
Defillipi, R. J., & Arthur, M. B. (1994). The boundaryless career: A competency based perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(4), 307–324.
De Grip, A., Van Loo, J., & Sanders, J. (2004). The industry employability index: Taking account of supply and demand characteristics. International Labour Review, 14(3), 211–233.
De Jong, J., & Schalk, R. (2005). Temporary employment in The Netherlands: Between flexibility and Security. In N. De Cuyper, K. Isaksson & H. De Witte (Eds.), Employment contracts and well-being among European workers (pp. 119–152). Ashgate: Aldershot.
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. (2001). The Job Demand Resources Model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 499–512.
De Witte, H. (1992). Tussen optimisten en teruggetrokkenen. Een empirisch onderzoek naar het psychosociaal profiel van langdurig werklozen en deelnemers aan de Weer-Werkactie in Vlaanderen (Between optimists and withdrawn. Empirical analysis of the psychosocial profile of long term unemployed in Flanders). Leuven: HIVA.
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(2), 155–177.
De Witte, H. (2000). Arbeidsethos en jobonzekerheid: meting en gevolgen voor welzijn, tevredenheid en inzet op het werk (Work ethic and job insecurity: Measurement and consequences for well-being, satisfaction and performance). In R. Bouwen, K. De Witte, H. De Witte, & T. Taillieu (Eds.), Van groep naar gemeenschap (pp. 325–350). Liber Amicorum.
Elman, C., & O’Rand, A. M. (2002). Perceived job insecurity and entry into work-related education and training among adult workers. Social Science Research, 31(1), 49–76.
Ferrie, J. E., Shipley, M. J., Newman, K., Stansfeld, S. A., & Marmot, M. (2005). Self-reported job insecurity and health in the Whitehall II study: Potential explanations of the relationship. Social Science and Medicine, 60(7), 1593–1602.
Forrier, A., & Sels, L. (2003). The concept employability: A complex mosaic. International Journal of Human Resource Development and Management, 3(2), 102–124.
Fugate, M., Kinicki, A. J., & Blake, E. A. (2004). Employability: A Psycho-social construct, its dimensions, and applications. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65(1), 14–38.
Golberg, D. (1979). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. London: NFER-Nelson.
Greenhalgh, L., & Rosenblatt, Z. (1984). Job Insecurity: Toward conceptual clarity. Academy of Management Review, 9(3), 438–448.
Hakanen, J., Bakker, A., & Demerouti, E. (2005). How dentists cope with their job demands and stay engaged: The moderating role of job resources. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 113(6), 479–487.
Hall, D. T., & Chandler, D. E. (2005). Psychological success: When the career is calling. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(2), 155–176.
Heaney, C., Israel, B., & House, J. (1994). Chronic job insecurity among automobile workers: Effects on job satisfaction and health. Social Science and Medicine, 38(10), 1431–1437.
Hellgren, J., & Sverke, M. (2003). Does job insecurity lead to impaired well-being or vice versa? Estimation of cross-lagged effects using latent variable modelling. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24(2), 215–236.
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(2), 179–195.
Hunter, J. E., & Schmidt, F. L. (1996). Cumulative research knowledge and social policy formulation: The critical role of meta-analysis. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 2, 324–347.
Iles, P., Forster, A., & Tinline, G. (1996). The changing relationships between work commitment, personal flexibility and employability. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 11(8), 18–34.
Isaksson, K., Bernhard, C., Claes, R., De Witte, H., Guest, D., Krausz, M., Peiro, J. M., Mohr, G., & Schalk, R. (2003). Employment contracts and psychological contracts in Europe. Results from a Pilot study. SALTSA Report, 1.
Jacobson, D. (1991). The conceptual approach to job insecurity. In J. Hartley, D. Jacobson, B. Klandermans & T. Van Vuuren (Eds.), Job insecurity: Coping with jobs at risk (pp. 23–39). London: Sage.
Kanter, R. M. (1989). When giants learn to dance: Mastering the challenge of strategy, management, and careers in the 1990s. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Kim-Prieto, C., Diener, E., Tamir, M., Scollon, C., & Diener, M. (2005). Integrating the diverse definitions of happiness: A time-sequential framework of subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(3), 261–300.
Kluytmans, F., & Ott, M. (1999). Management of employability in The Netherlands. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(2), 261–272.
Kuhnert, K. W., & Vance, R. J. (1993). Job insecurity and moderators of the relation between job insecurity and employee adjustment. In J. Campbell Quick, L. R. Murphy & J. J. Hurrel (Eds.), Stress and well-being at work (pp. 48–63). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
Le Blanc, P., De Jonge, J., & Schaufely, W. (2000). Job stress and health. In N. Chmiel (Ed.), Introduction to work and organizational psychology: A European perspective (pp. 148–177). Oxford: Blackwell.
Lewchuk, W., de Wolff, A., King, A., & Polanyi, M. (2005). Beyond job strain: Employment strain and the health effects of precarious employment. Work in a global society. Working Paper Series, 2005-1. Labour Studies Programme. Mc Master University.
Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2004). Culture and conceptions of happiness: Individual oriented and social oriented SWB. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5(3), 269–291.
Marler, J. H., Barringer, M. W., & Milkovich, G. T. (2002). Boundaryless and traditional contingent employees: Worlds apart. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(4), 425–453.
Mauno, S., Leskinen, E., & Kinnunen, U. (2001). Multi-wave, multi-variable models of job insecurity: Applying different scales in studying the stability of job insecurity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(8), 919–937.
Mirvis, P. H., & Hall, D. T. (1994). Psychological success and the boundaryless career. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(4), 365–380.
Mohr, G. B. (2000). The changing significance of different stressors after the announcement of bankruptcy: A longitudinal investigation with special emphasis on job insecurity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21(3), 337–359.
Näswall, K. (2004). The buffering effect of employability on job insecurity outcomes. Poster presented at the XXVIII International Congress of Psychology, 8–13 August, Beijing, China.
Näswall, K. (2005). Job insecurity and well-being: Moderating factors of a negative relationship. Paper presented at the 12th European Congress on Work and Organizational Psychology, 12–15 May, Istanbul, Turkey.
Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method bias in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.
PSYCONES (Psychological contract across employment situations). (2003). Instruction work book and blueprint for methodology. Internal report. http://www.uv.es/~psycon/reports.htm.
Quinlan, M., Mayhew, C., & Bohle, P. (2001). The global expansion of precarious employment, work disorganization, and consequences for occupational health: A review of recent research. Globalization and Occupational Health, 31(2), 335–414.
Rajan, A. (1997). Employability in the finance sector: Rhetoric vs. reality. Human Resource Management Journal, 7(1), 67–78.
Rousseau, D. M., & Fried, Y. (2001). Location, location, location: Contextualizing organizational research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(1), 1–13.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review on research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. In S. Fiske (Ed.), Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.
Ryan, R. M., Huta, V., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Living well: A self-determination theory perspective on eudaimonia. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 139–170.
Semmer, N., Zapf, D., & Greif, S. (1996). Shared job strain: A new approach for assessing the validity of job stress measurements. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 69(3), 293–310.
Spector, P. E. (1987). Method variance as an artefact in self-reported affect and perceptions at work: Myth or significant problem. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72(3), 438–443.
Sullivan, S. E. (1999). The changing nature of careers: A review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 25(3), 457–484.
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(1), 23–42.
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.
Thomas, W. I., & Thomas, D. S. (1928). The Child in America: Behavior Problems and Programs. New York: Knopf.
Trevor, C. O. (2001). Interactions among actual ease-of-movement determinants and job satisfaction in the prediction of voluntary turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 621–638.
Van Dam, K. (2004). Antecedents and consequences of the employability orientation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 13(1), 29–51.
Van Vuuren, T. (1990). Met ontslag bedreigd. Mensen in onzekerheid over hun arbeidsplaats bij organisationele veranderingen. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij.
Virtanen, M., Kivimäki, M., Virtanen, P., Elovainio, M., & Vahtera, J. (2003). Disparity in occupational training and career planning between contingent and permanent employees. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 12(1), 19–36.
Warr, P. (1987). Work unemployment and mental health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Worth, S. (2002). Education and employability: School leaver’s attitudes to the prospect of non-standard work. Journal of Education and Work, 15(2), 163–179.
Zapf, D., Dormann, C., & Frese, M. (1996). Longitudinal studies in organizational stress research: A review of the literature with reference to methodological issues. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(2), 145–169.
Inmaculada Silla-Guerola, Francisco J. Gracia and José M. Peiró acknowledge the support of the following *CONSOLIDER EJEC* (SEJ 2006-14086/PSIC). Nele De Cuyper’s contribution was supported by a grant from the FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek—Vlaanderen; post-doctoral fellowship).
About this article
Cite this article
Silla, I., De Cuyper, N., Gracia, F.J. et al. Job Insecurity and Well-Being: Moderation by Employability. J Happiness Stud 10, 739 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9119-0
- Job insecurity
- Perceived employability