Ann E. Schlotzhauer, B.A., University of Central Florida; Michael DiStaso, M.S., University of Central Florida; James Lai, University of Central Florida; Mindy K. Shoss, Ph.D., University of Central Florida

The present study assesses hospitality workers’ experiences with work-hour insecurity and job insecurity. We test the extent to which work-hour insecurity predicts workers’ job attitudes (e.g., job engagement, job satisfaction) above and beyond their job insecurity.

Hypothesis 1: Controlling for job insecurity, work-hour insecurity will negatively predict job engagement.

Hypothesis 2: Controlling for job insecurity, work-hour insecurity will negatively predict job satisfaction.

The employment status of workers in the hospitality industry was disproportionately impacted at the onset of the pandemic, but many of these workers have begun returning to hospitality work (O’Connel, 2021; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). Job insecurity, particularly rampant in the hospitality industry during the pandemic, has been linked to poor well-being and worsened job attitudes (Shoss, 2017; Tu et al., 2021). However, the present study shifts the focus from job insecurity (i.e., concern about the possibility of job loss) to work-hour insecurity (i.e., concern about the stability of work hours). Not only does work-hour insecurity represent an important research gap in organizational sciences (Shoss et al., 2020), work-hour insecurity may also be particularly pernicious amongst employees who recently returned to work following COVID-related furloughs. Specifically, we suggest that hospitality workers’ job attitudes may be predicted by their work-hour insecurity, above and beyond their job insecurity.

121 U.S. adults employed in the hospitality industry completed an online survey in Spring 2021. The sample was primarily (62.8%) female and (89.3%) Caucasian. Roughly half (48.7%) had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. Most (81.0%) had been furloughed or laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but had since returned to their original jobs. Participants worked an average of 36.20 (SD = 9.38) hours per week and most (86.8%) earned less than $40,000 annually. The majority (94.2%) worked in theme parks.

Participants responded to a 3-item job insecurity scale; an example item reads “I feel uneasy about losing my job in the near future” (Hellgren et al., 1999). Four items adapted from Van den Broeck and colleagues’ (2014) job insecurity scale measured work-hour insecurity. An example item is “I am worried about whether I will have enough work hours in the future.” Nine items were utilized to capture job engagement; an example item reads “I was excited about my job” (Rich et al., 2010) Participants also responded to a 3-item job satisfaction scale (Cammann et al., 1983). An example item reads “All in all, I am satisfied with my job.” All responses were provided on Likert-type scales ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” Table 1 provides the descriptive statistics, internal consistency reliabilities, and variable intercorrelations.

To test Hypothesis 1, participants’ job insecurity was entered into step 1 of a hierarchical linear regression predicting their job engagement. Work-hour insecurity was entered in step 2. A non-significant R2 change (ΔR2= 0.018, p = n.s.) indicated that the addition of work-hour insecurity did not significantly improve prediction of engagement. In the final model, neither job insecurity (β = 0.060, p = n.s.) nor work-hour insecurity (β = -0.153, p = n.s.) predicted engagement. Thus, hypothesis 1 did not gain support.

Hypothesis 2 was tested in the same manner. A significant R2 change (ΔR2= 0.037, p < .05) indicated that the addition of work-hour insecurity significantly improved prediction of job satisfaction. As expected, work-hour insecurity negatively predicted job satisfaction (β = -0.223, p < .05), supporting hypothesis 2. In the final model, job insecurity did not significantly predict job satisfaction (β = 0.032, p = n.s.).

The findings suggest that hospitality workers’ job satisfaction depends on their work hours security. While organizations typically target pay rate, benefits, and associated perks when trying to increase employees’ satisfaction, our findings highlight the importance of the availability of work hours especially as workers return from layoffs and furloughs.

The present research is strengthened by its sample of mostly theme park employees who had generally been furloughed or laid off during a portion of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this experience, these employees could be expected to have heightened levels of job insecurity and/or work-hour insecurity. However, the research is also limited by the use of a cross-sectional design and a lack of generalizability. Future research should examine the effects of work-hour insecurity longitudinally and across more diverse samples.

Despite limitations, this research provides interesting preliminary evidence of the effects of work-hour insecurity while controlling for job insecurity.

This research demonstrates that work-hour insecurity has a significant impact on individuals’ job satisfaction, over and above workers’ feelings about job insecurity.

Tags: Comprehensive Approaches to Healthy Work Design and Well-Being, COVID-19, Empirical study, Job and Task Design, Organization- and Job-Level Environments and Practices, Organizational Practices, Services, Work Scheduling and Flexibility