Talking Brand: Job security has never looked so cool

Featured / Talking Brand: Job security has never looked so cool

William Geldart

William Geldart
March 14, 2023

OK, the notion of job security has always been cool. In fact, it’s featured high up on employee priority lists for a LONG time. It’s a fundamental requirement. But it had arguably been usurped, possibly even overlooked – until it suddenly became sexy again.

Meaning. Purpose. Wellbeing. Corporate Social Responsibility. They’ve been the headline grabbers. And each is a worthy facet of the employee experience.

However, right now, pure unadulterated job security is one of the hottest attraction and retention tools.

The desire for job security has remained a constant

According to Gallup, the importance of job security has remained unchanged since 2015. “About half of workers are looking for jobs that provide greater stability and security than they currently have.” The notion of what constitutes job security is ever evolving. But the overarching sentiment rings true, no matter which industry or profession it’s applied to.

We all want to feel a semblance of security in our surroundings, even if the parameters can differ slightly.

Silicon Valley Bank and security in the spotlight

The collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank has put job security firmly in the spotlight. Not least for those who’ve suffered job losses and the countless others affected by the aftermath.

“It’s time to look after yourself” is the leading reaction in one Forbes article.

Governments and other financial institutions will look to shield some of those in the firing line. However, it’s become apparent that the heave-ho of global markets is becoming more pronounced, more frequent, and increasingly volatile. All of which has a direct impact on employees that find themselves caught in the crossfire.

In this hyper-emotive context, looking out for number one is an understandable trope.

Security doesn’t equal stability

The terms ‘security’ and ‘stability’ can sometimes be used interchangeably. This is unhelpful. Sure, everyone wants to feel secure and at ease in their role. Without fear of the ceiling falling in at any moment.

But this is not the same as having the freedom to do good work without fear of excessive interference or marginalization. Neither is security wholly related to permanence and comfort. A little instability, flux and discomfort can be good for the soul.

It’s also seen as being desirable by the next generation of employees.

Here’s the thing. Most people WANT to be challenged. And they will make work-life trade-offs for bigger pay at high-performing companies. Ergo, high-performing, and more secure.

This was borne out within the latest World’s Most Attractive Employers report, produced by Universum.

Richard Mosley, Global Vice President of Strategy, commented: “It tells us that most students are prepared to trade-off work-life balance for higher salaries and future earnings. It also tells us that this comes with an expectation of high performance and challenging work.“

This goes against the common narrative that persists around Gen-Z wanting everything without giving something back.

One final thing…can we make the conversation less adversarial?

The lack of nuance within the whole security narrative can be infuriating. It typically goes something like this…

Covid-19 happened, and the world was turned upside down. As employees, we were forced to go remote/flexible overnight and we loved it.

So much so that business leaders had to ‘kowtow’ to our ongoing thirst for this newfound freedom. Not only that, they had to react to talent scarcity by approving inflation-busting paycheques. Oh, and we no longer wanted to work for companies with purpose. We DEMANDED it.

And if we didn’t get all of these magical things, we simply voted with our feet and joined this thing called The Great Resignation.

However, skip ahead to more recent times and the socio-economic bogeyman has threatened to put an end to our fun. War, climate change, a global energy crisis and economic turmoil loom large.

It’s time to fight for your jobs, people. And get back to the office while you’re at it.

Writing for Forbes, Jack Kelly puts it like this: “When the job market is blazing, it’s easy to coast, browse the internet, run errands and conduct non-related business activities throughout the day without any fear of reprisals from the boss.”

Kelly then dissects the perceived entitlement that has taken hold. Particularly in relation to the race to provide even greater compensation and benefits.

He went on: “If the employees don’t gain the personal attention and goodies, they’ll become disengaged and start acting their wage and quiet quitting.

“Feeling unloved and unappreciated, they slide into becoming a slacker and cyberloafer. This attitude, when multiplied by a large number of other workers, is problematic, as it results in less productivity and deteriorating relationships with customers and vendors.”

OK, you get the point. And in the author’s defence, this exaggerated schtick is then tempered by a conclusion that highlights the value of chasing security over shiny new things in today’s job market.

Of course, the truth needs to be somewhere in the middle. But whatever the dividing lines, security is an attraction tool that’s not going away anytime soon.

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