Earlier this month, with the last Ford rolling off the assembly line here in Australia, it was reported that about 580 workers would lose their jobs. I began to wonder about how these events effect our sense of security in the workforce.
Research released earlier in Britain this year and published in the Work, Employment and Society journal, indicated that about one third of British workers fear that they could lose their jobs. This was an increase from the previous year of about 8%. No doubt, this kind of job insecurity had considerable influence on the Brexit decision.
While I've never had the heart-sinking experience of being told that I no longer had a job with my employer, the fear of job loss has been a stress I've known at different times in my life. My mind imagines scenes, such as those played out in the 2009 George Clooney film, "Up in the Air", where Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, works as a professional job terminator. He is hired by companies who don't want to do the uncomfortable work of terminating their employees. In one scene I vividly remember, Bingham brings the bad news to a corporate employee of many years, and in an amazing act of reframing, tells him that his termination is now his opportunity to pursue his dreams. He says, "You have an opportunity. This is a rebirth."
I doubt very much that this would be my first thought if it happened to me. However, in casting my mind on how to deal with this kind of uncertainty, a couple of thoughts came to me.
Firstly, as a Christian, I have to ask myself whether God is still in control? Jesus tells his disciples that if their Heavenly Father knows when the least significant bird such as a sparrow falls to the ground, how much more does he know about us and our needs? In fact the very hairs of our heads are numbered. It is a great comfort to know that nothing about God - his power, knowledge or love for me have changed, even if my employment were to change.
Secondly, I find great comfort in what Paul tells the Philippians when he gives what has become one of his most quoted sayings (so I believe), "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God". Anxiety, I have learned, is not just fear. Rather it is discomfort of varying degrees that somehow things are not going to turn out ok. If something bad is going to happen, it will happen to me! Well, Paul deals with that kind of stressed mindset by telling us to lay it all out before God in prayer.
A lot more needs to be said about dealing with job insecurity. It would be great if we could hear your voice at our up-coming Renewing My Workplace conference, where we will be looking at how the Gospel shapes our thinking through times of uncertainty and change.
I hope you can make it!