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Job Security Stress Hitting 20-, 30-Somethings Hard

Posted December. 05, 2008 04:25,   


▽ Rising fear of unemployment

With fear increasing over imminent layoffs and job cuts at many companies, more people in their 20s or 30s are complaining of stress or are showing the effects of stress arising from the fear of losing their jobs.

The fear of losing one’s job is especially acute considering that many have firsthand experience of massive layoffs or those of their parents in the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

This phenomenon is not just affecting those on the verge of losing their jobs, but those who are considered to have stable jobs or work in the public sector.

A 34-year-old employee who has worked five years at a public relations company complained of being stressed at work. She said she won confidence at her office as a competent worker, but with the number of clients declining, she said she is in a state of excessive anxiety over her performance.

She said she saw her father get laid off during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.

A civil servant said, “My friends say that as a public official, I don’t need to worry about losing my job, but I cannot shake my anxiety and fears because I saw my own family suffer hardship in the financial crisis. Many people around me spend a lot of time on self-development such as learning a foreign language and getting a professional license.”

Those who suffer from unemployment stress are said to have experienced mental trauma after seeing their parents get fired about a decade ago.

▽ Enjoy free time

Psychologists say those in their 20s and 30s are more likely to suffer mental stress over losing their jobs.

Those in their 20s or 30s usually have unstable economic and social status, and if they lose their jobs, they could lose a big part of their identity. They especially feel a growing fear of getting laid off since many of them saw their parents suffer the same fate a decade ago.

Yu Beom-hui, a neuropsychiatry professor at Samsung Medical Center, said, “People in their 20s and 30s tend to think they still have much time left until their retirement and often overestimate their own ability and status in their organization.”

Job stress, if not treated, causes a number of anxiety disorders. According to a report by the National Health Insurance Corp., the number of anxiety patents in their 20s rose from 34,000 in 2004 to 49,000 last year. That of those in their 30s rose from 62,000 to 70,000 over the same period.

This year saw a jump in the number for both age groups to more than 80,000 in August.

To overcome such stress, psychologists say people need to recognize the importance of time away from work and efforts to build relationships with people in different fields.

“Rather than focusing on a daily or monthly basis, it is helpful to establish an overall picture of plans at work or private living based on a long-term perspective and maintain a regular lifestyle,” Yu said.