The purpose of this paper is to advance research on job loss-related stress through a critical realism framework which considers the interplay between organisational context and personal agency and its implications for worker stress in the pre-lay-off stage.
The paper adopts a qualitative case study approach and considers two groups of workers confronted with the prospects of job loss in Australia’s power generation industry – permanent employees working for power stations and workers employed by associated contractors. Field research and semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 35 power industry workers including power station employees and contract workers.
The research shows permanent employees expressing higher levels of stress than contract workers. The different emotional responses expressed by the two groups are accounted for by differences in organisational circumstances and the conditioning of personal agency within these organisational contexts.
One of the implications is that “vulnerable” workers are better prepared for plant closure and less prone to stress. Additional research involving different types of industries, organisational forms, and workforces and involving different stages of the job loss experience, however, is needed to more full advance the understanding of the complexities between organisational structure, worker agency, and the stress implications.
This study assists the authors in better understanding worker emotional experience in the pre-lay-off stage. These findings have important implications for workers, unions and social support agencies and how they can appropriately approach, prepare and assist different categories of workers confronted with job redundancy situations.
This study assists the authors in better understanding worker emotional experience in the pre-lay-off stage. The study has implications for the design and implementation of assistance packages for displaced workers.
Unlike other studies which focus on the lay-off, unemployment or re-employment stage of job loss, this study focuses on the pre-lay-off stage. Conceptually, the study departs from the positivist paradigm which dominates much of the stress literature and adopts a nuanced approach inspired by critical realist understandings of the structure-agency relationship.
Snell, D., Schmitt, D., Glavas, A. and Bamberry, L. (2015), "Worker stress and the prospect of job loss in a fragmented organisation", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 61-81. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-03-2014-1210
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