The psychological contract, job insecurity and the intention to quit of security employees in the Vaal Triangle
De Beer, Susana Maria
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Employees across the world experience change in the workplace due to a fast-fluctuating environment in which organisations operate. According to Maumo and Kinnunen (1999) a transformation has taken place in the industrialised world of work over the last few decades. Downsizing, right-sizing or restructuring have become familiar terms in difficult economic conditions and implies that rationalising of jobs are inevitable. Organisations attempt to reduce costs, which in turn places pressure on employees to modify their jobs, seek alternative employment (intention to quit) and relocate, all of which are likely to fuel job insecurity (Hartley, Jacobson, Klandermans & Van Vuuren, 1991; Iyo & Brotheridge, 2004). The unemployment rate in South Africa is one of the highest in the world with 36% of its citizens being unemployed in 1999 (Kingdon & Knight, 2001). What's more is that, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 4.1 million people in South Africa were classified as unemployed in 2009. Frequent reorganisation and statements regarding flexibi lity are signals that one's job security is not secure. Even vague signals of downsizing or change may encourage employees to have intention to quit (Iyo & Brotheridge, 2004). When organisations start to downsize, some people may expect to become unemployed. Sverke, Hellgren and Naswall (2002) state that organisational change is an antecedent to job security. Mauna and Kunnunen (1999) agrees that objective circumstances of an insecure job situation can be defined as the experience of job insecurity, while according to De Witte (1999) the growing emphasis on more flexible employment contracts also intensify feelings of job insecurity. Job insecurity has been found to predict stronger intention to quit within the organisation (Ashford, Lee & Bobko, 1989). This means that a flexible, multiskilled, knowledgeable, interchangeable and adaptable workforce are exposed to new management techniques as well as altered labour relations/human resource policies and activities, which in turn influence employers' obligations, employees' obligations, the state of the psychological contract, job insecurity and employees' intention to quit (Ekkerd, 2005). The primary objective of this research is to investigate the relationship between the psychological contract, individual characteristics, job insecurity and the intention to quit of security employees (N=217) in the Vaal Triangle. A cross-sectional survey design was used. Constructs were measured by means of the psychological contract (employer obligations, employee obligations and the state of the psychological contract), an "individual characteristics" questionnaire, a job insecurity questionnaire and an intention to quit questionnaire. The research method for each of the two articles consists of a brief literature review and an empirical study. Factor analyses, as well as Cronbach alpha coefficients were computed to assess the reliability. Validity of the different product moment correlation coefficients, and regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between the constructs employed in this research. Significant differences are found between various individual characteristics and the scores of the psychological contract (employer obligations scale, employee obligations scale and the state of the psychological contract scale), the individual characteristics questionnaire, job insecurity scale and the employee's intention to quit scale. A practically significant correlation was found with a small effect between the state of the psychological contract, employer obligations and employee obligations. Results demonstrate a significant relationship between the psychological contract, type of contract, gender and tenure. No significant relationship was found between the psychological contract and age and qualification of the employees. Multiple regression analysis indicates that employee obligations predicted negative intention to quit. Job insecurity predicted positive intention to quit. Conclusions are made, limitations of the current research are discussed and recommendations for future research are put forward.