The Bane of Competitive Employment Landscape
The Bane of Competitive Employment Landscape: Insecurity
Recent time disruptions have once again reshaped the competitive landscape of employment. This nature stems from the aftermath of Great Resignation which heightened around 2021. Although the impact on Indonesia’s employment has diminished by the first quarter of 2022, it still left a visible scar on the employment rate.
Badan Pusat Statistik recorded that there are 8,75 million people who are not employed by the first quarter of 2021. A surge of numbers from the previously recorded 6,93 million people being unemployed from the first quarter of 2020. It is also recorded that there are still 8,40 million unemployed people as of early 2022 (Herman & Baskoro, 2022). A pale comparison when things are considered to be “normal”.
The slow growth of recovery has set a new breath of perspective on employment for both job seekers and companies. Job seekers now which comprise generation Z have more bold priorities when hunting for jobs.
By early 2022, around 15,31 million people aged 20-24 years are recorded as active and available workforce in Indonesia according to Badan Pusat Statistik (Kusnandar, 2022).
That particular group of the workforce is considered to have more demand regarding the alignment of values and personal growth opportunities than their generation’s predecessors (Anders, 2022). Indonesia’s employment pool will soon be tighter considering the number of unemployed people, the newly eager workforce group that is ready to enter the workplace, and those of boomerang employees. As expectation and the amount of talent pool continues to grow from job seekers, this in turn pushes companies to place better employee experience as their top agenda to attract the right talent (Marwan, 2022). So those same companies can fill up the gap with talented employees to recover from the Great Resignation.
The combination of variables such as a large number of job seekers and companies in search of talented employees has made the employment landscape into an ever-growing competitive climate. However, there is more to this climate than meets the eye. What does it really mean for Indonesian job seekers in 2022? A competitive climate can sow pressure, anxiety, and even insecurity. These feelings are especially prevalent for Indonesia’s job seekers nowadays.
To put this into context, it is seemingly normal to see job seekers voicing out their insecurity related to employment on social media platforms be it Twitter, Instagram, Quora, or even LinkedIn.
Research has also shown that the desired job position for an undergraduate student is highly associated with job-seeking anxiety. One of its causes is an unknown fear of lack of employment support and lack of self- confidence (Kim, Oh, & Rajaguru, 2022). This state of affairs should compel people, whether currently working or searching for work, to understand better this particular form of insecurity.
Understanding employment insecurity may come from knowing the basic concept surrounding it. Insecurity in general terms is usually interpreted as the feeling of inadequacy, lack of self- confidence, and inability to cope, accompanied by general uncertainty and anxiety about one’s goals or abilities. Through the scientific lens, insecurity can also be determined as one of the threats to self-construction. This insecurity threat may come in the form of indifference, fear of exclusion, and rejection by significant others (Dexter-Smith, Oyebode, & Dagnan, 2003). People will also seek security in the concept of self, relationships, and a sense of meaning. At the same time, insecurity can creep in if those concepts get threatened (Young, Sullivan, Hart, & Palitsky, 2020).
Within those concepts of insecurity, it is common to find Indonesian job seekers feeling insecure about their own self- ability compared to other job seekers. One of the many social media platforms that puts job seekers under pressure and questions their own ability is LinkedIn. A widely known platform where people can connect and share their own work experience. Alas, that very own function becomes the source of pressure and insecurity for job seekers. Open access to people’s CVs can trigger a job seeker to unconsciously compare their own ability and work experience.
Sometimes people can’t help but wonder why other job seekers who share the same age as them or go into the same school/university as them can have very different and better experiences than themselves. Add to the fact that 43% of youths from a survey carried out by Pew Research Center felt pressured to only post content that made them look good to others (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). This makes the pressure of employment competition between job seekers even begin before the application process. A situation where the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence becomes inexorably inevitable.
Job seekers need to be fully aware of the danger of those situations that can affect oneself. When pressure and insecurity get out of hand, job seekers’ wellbeing will most likely be impacted. Be it their self-esteem, self-confidence, or self-efficacy to perform well at work. Studies have shown that insecurity and mental wellbeing are strongly related. The feeling of insecurity in itself can cause serious detrimental effects on wellbeing which leads to psychological distress, anxiety, and depression, as well as mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion (Sjöberg, 2010; Vulkan, 2012). So in hindsight, it is equally valuable between competing for a job and maintaining one’s wellbeing within the competitive employment climate.
Aside from having an awareness, job seekers should also better equip themselves by managing the said insecure feeling. Overcoming the nagging worry that we are not good enough against other job seekers or against the high standard of the company’s recruitment is understandably easier said than done. So job seekers need to take steps in order to elevate themselves from feeling insecure, to gaining awareness, and then developing self-compassion. Through this, a more positive evaluation of self-worth will certainly help ease insecurity.
Weber and Petriglieri (2018) who are both professors of organizational behavior at INSEAD, wrote in a Harvard Business Review article about insecurity and said that feeling of insecurity is made, not born within. It is a momentary state of making the first step in a new environment and new expectations which is the workplace. So it’s absolutely okay to feel it. What job seekers have to put focus on is about accepting and overcoming insecurity. t is better to stop caring too
much about what each other has or doesn’t have. Instead, start to care more in a reasonable way for each other (Weber & Petriglieri, 2018).
This issue about job seekers’ wellbeing actually has helped raise a question, do companies or employers on the other hand have been attentive enough regarding job seekers’ well-being within the employment climate? Thankfully the impact of disruptions that the pandemic brings has become a catalyst for a more widespread acknowledgment of wellbeing issues. Although it may not specifically target job seekers’ insecurity just yet, this may be the start of it. Companies’ and employers’ efforts toward better employee well-being can be seen through their investment.
Globally speaking, Wellable Labs in 2022 reported that 90% of employers increased their investment in mental health programs, 76% increased investment in stress management and resilience programs, and 71% increased investment in mindfulness and meditation programs (Poswolsky, 2022).
There is also a Health on Demand survey in 2021, which includes 14,000 employees globally including 1,000 in Indonesia, shows that 61% of Indonesian employees feel their employers are concerned for their wellbeing compared with an Asia average of 48% and a global average of 46% (Mercer Marsh Benefits, 2021). These prove that even if job seekers have troubles with their well-being, companies, and employers are ready to be the platform to help them when they enter the workplace. A sincere proof from companies and employers that they have worked on valuing employees much more. A clear message to abandon the notion of employees are just a cog in a machine. (APA)