Human error : the influence of job insecurity on safety and performance

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Positioning workplaces for the future: Sustainability, agility and performance: APS 11th industrial and organisational psychology conference: Melbourne, Australia 2-4 July 2015

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Aim: Job insecurity has been linked to many negative health and performance outcomes, like burnout, reduced productivity and higher accident-proneness. Workplace injuries can be very costly for organizations. The purpose of the present research is to examine job insecurity as a contributing factor to workplace safety and performance. We hypothesize that job insecurity has a negative influence on burnout, which in turn is related to making more attention-related cognitive errors (ARCES) and being less likely to detect your own as well as other people’s errors. This can have detrimental effects on employees and people around them. For example, in the medical sector, errors made or undetected can potentially cost patients’ lives. Therefore, we investigate job insecurity’s influence on ARCES and undetected errors through burnout. Design: Apart from using self-reports, we include a behavioral measure for error detection. We designed and piloted an experiment in which employees had to compare fictitious customer orders to deliveries of an online shop. Methods: A sample of 156 employees was collected from educational, financial and medical sectors in China. We tested for mediations using bootstrapping and the overall model fit using AMOS software. Results: Regarding the mediating effect of burnout between job insecurity and ARCES, the 95% bias-corrected confidence interval did not include zero (CI 0.01, 0.25). Likewise, burnout mediated the relationship between job insecurity and undetected errors (CI 0.01, 0.03). The model showed a good fit (CFI = 0.98, NFI = .95, TLI = 0.94). In sum, our hypotheses have been confirmed. Conclusion: The present research shows that job insecurity influences making and detecting errors through its relationship with burnout. This finding has implication for organizational safety and performance. Particular strengths of the present study are the inclusion of an objective behavioral measure and an Eastern sample, expanding research conducted with non-Western samples. A potential limitation is that the behavioral measure is newly developed, and would benefit from validation in future research. In sum, this research shows that job insecurity has a negative impact on performance and safety. Thus, companies should implement interventions like open communication to help employees cope with job insecurity.

Recommended Citation

Roll, L. C., Siu, O. L., & Li, Y. W. S. (2015, July). Human error: The influence of job insecurity on safety and performance. Paper presented at Positioning workplaces for the future: Sustainability, agility and performance: APS 11th industrial and organisational psychology conference, Melbourne, Australia. Abstract retrieved from https://events.psychology.org.au/ei/speakers/2015IOP_Abstracts.pdf

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