Providing security: how to give insecure workers a firmer foundation

Written by David Waller Thursday 25 January 2024
As a manager, you may feel you lack the ability to support your insecure workers. But setting and communicating clear expectations can make a big difference. Here are seven practical tips to give your team the security they may be craving
Image: stockcreations / Shutterstock

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Analysis by the Work Foundation and CMI found that good management practice plays a critical role in people’s experience of insecure work. Find more advice specifically for senior leaders and for line managers in the full employer briefing.

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It’s easy to feel powerless as a manager of insecure workers. Roles are increasingly offered and operated via apps, with task management software allocating and tracking jobs. Shifts and, indeed, entire positions can be lost in the blink of an eye. All of which is likely to be beyond your control. But as the leader closest to the ground, you’re the person best placed to stand up for your people.

That starts with treating them well and offering clear communication, and extends to doing what you can to defend their contractual security, increase their autonomy, prioritise flexible working options and offer scope for development – all of which can boost their job satisfaction.

In new research by the Work Foundation at Lancaster University and the CMI, more than a third (36%) of the insecure workers surveyed said their manager doesn’t consult them before changing their weekly hours. Meanwhile, more than one in three (34%) workers reported having at least one of their shifts cancelled with less than two days’ notice in the past month.

“Managing insecure workers is all about setting and communicating clear expectations,” says David Taylor, who works at the agriculture supply chain software company Agritask. “As a manager, you may not have influence over what’s going to happen to people’s jobs, but you can push for clarity. As any environment becomes more volatile, people’s anxiety increases, which directly affects their wellbeing. 

“Direct managers need to seek as much information as possible, so they understand in advance what’s going to happen,” he continues. “They can then serve as a conduit for that information. Be really clear about confirming how long the work will last, the terms of the employment and how you’ll be able to support them.”

This extra effort is worth it. 

Workers who feel well treated are 7.5 times more likely to be satisfied with their job

The research by the Work Foundation and CMI highlighted that workers who feel well treated are 7.5 times more likely to be satisfied with their job. And that is bound to be a more positive experience for the manager.

Jaroslav Chudej CMgr FCMI, a hospitality manager and leadership coach, believes that managers must claim their own autonomy, acknowledge that the wellbeing of their team is their responsibility – and then fight for them.

The role of a good manager is to create a safe space, he insists. “One manager could say, ‘Okay, I’ll do that for the other people and, as a by-product, it benefits me’. Or it could be the other way around. It doesn’t matter.” The aim, he says, is that everyone benefits. 

“People in insecure roles have zero guarantees about anything, so the last thing they need is to come to work to be abused or feel in any way unsafe. The key is to avoid becoming a proxy to senior leaders who need you to make decisions you’re not comfortable with.”

 Want to discover seven more ways to help support your insecure workers?


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