When job security turns meaningless

Several jobs in large or public organizations come with the promise of job security. But what does that really mean?

When you consider a long enough time horizon, an employee’s presence inside a firm has merely one of two possibilities – her contribution is net positive, and her presence within the organization is valued, or her presence on the payroll costs the organization more than her presence on the job.

In the former case, job security is redundant – one isn’t at the risk of being fired. In the second case, the employee finds herself in an environment where her contribution isn’t valued. Even if her job is secure, she is seen (and often treated) as dead-weight. In such a case, it is best for both parties to part ways rather than prolong this slow state of mutual attrition.

The key point here is the ‘long enough time horizon’. I am not advocating the ‘hire-and-fire’ that organizations with a short-term focus indulge in. But when both the organization and the employee are playing long-term games, job security loses meaning.

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