Bending Without Breaking: A Two-Study Examination of Employee Resilience in the Face of Job Insecurity

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Abstract

Job insecurity is a ubiquitous threat that has been linked to a number of undesirable emotional, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes. Against this backdrop, popular and academic accounts have hailed the ability to bounce back from threats (i.e., resilience) as a crucial competency. We leverage the cognitive-relational model of stress to examine the extent to which resilience (operationalized as both dispositional tendencies and coping strategies) mitigates several negative consequences of job insecurity. We tested the moderating role of resilience in 2 studies. In a cross-sectional study with a sample of 1,071 university employees in the United States, we found resilience weakened the relationships between job insecurity and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and psychological contract breach. In a 2-wave study with 335 employees demographically representative of working population of the United States, we found that resilience mitigated the negative consequences of job insecurity on emotional exhaustion and interpersonal counterproductive work behaviors assessed 1 month later. Results of both studies converge to support the proposed buffering effect of resilience during times of job insecurity.

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