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The Psychology of the Recession on the Workplace

The Psychology of the Recession on the Workplace

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

An economic recession can affect the aggregate well-being of a population. This highly regarded and timely book shows a significant increase in the mean levels of distress and dissatisfaction in the work place in recent years. In particular, increasing job demands, intrinsic job insecurity and increasingly inadequate salaries make substantial contributions to psychological distress, family conflict and related behaviors. The contributors reveal that the recession has fundamentally altered the way employees view their work and leaders. With employers and employees still facing a continued period of uncertainty, a severe impact on employment relations is a continuing reality.

Chapter 18: Low income families and occupational health: implications of economic stress for work-family conflict research and practice

Robert R. Sinclair, Tahira Probst, Leslie B. Hammer and Meline M. Schaffer

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, strategic management


The United Nations (2011: 8) refers to the recent economic downturn as ‘the fastest and deepest drop in global economic activity since the great depression’ and reports that 1 in 5 workers and their families worldwide live in extreme poverty. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2011a) data shows unemployment in European Union member countries rising from 7.2 per cent in 2007 to 9.7 per cent as of September, 2011, with considerably higher rates in countries such as Portugal (12.5 per cent), Ireland (14.2 per cent) and Spain (22.6 per cent). Unemployment nearly doubled in the United States during the same time period, rising from 4.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent. While the sharp declines in economic activity may have slowed for the moment, the International Monetary Fund (2011) projects a long period of slow global activity and continued financial instability. The global economic downturn arguably represents the single biggest threat to occupational health as it is a root cause of many occupational health concerns. Reduced economic activity creates competitive pressures for organizations, which often respond by attempting to reduce labor costs through changes in work organization, such as lean staffing practices (for example, asking fewer employees to work more hours), using temporary/contract employees, decreasing available work hours, reducing wages and cutting benefits programs.

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