Job Match and Job Tenure in Persons with Severe Mental Illness

Article excerpt

Much research has focused on ways to promote recovery in people with severe mental illness (SMI), who often suffer dire consequences resulting from their illness. While the unique meaning of recovery varies across persons, a common emerging theme involves returning to work in the community (Bellack, 2006). However, while the majority of people with SMI desire to work (McQuilken et al., 2003), a substantial majority, 20% or more, remain unemployed (Rosenheck et al., 2006; Salkever et al., 2007).

In response, supported employment programs such as the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program have been developed that successfully assist people with SMI in obtaining jobs (Becker & Drake, 1993). However, job retention remains a problem--people with SMI get jobs, but often have difficulty keeping them. Prior research has demonstrated that several variables affect job retention at the program and the person levels (e.g., Bond & Kukla, in press; Campbell, Bond, Drake, McHugo, & Xie, 2010). One potentially important variable that has received little attention is job match, i.e., the degree to which a given job matches the interests, values, and competencies of the client. There is evidence suggesting that job satisfaction soon after obtaining a job is predictive of job tenure in persons with SMI who are working competitively and receiving supported employment services (e.g., Resnick & Bond, 2001). In addition, two studies found that unsatisfactory job terminations were associated with retrospective reports of low levels of job satisfaction or job dissatisfaction (Becker, et al., 1998; Mak, Tsang, & Cheung, 2006). In research examining occupational types, the similarity between the client's job preference based on type of job as expressed during the job development phase of supported employment services and the actual job obtained has been shown to be associated with a greater number of days worked (Becker, Drake, Farabaugh, & Bond, 1996). Another study found that a good match between job preference and job attained was related to both longer job tenure and higher rated job satisfaction (Mueser, Becker, & Wolfe, 2001).

More recently, Huff, Rapp, and Campbell (2008) conducted a qualitative study of people with SMI, illustrating that compared with persons who terminated their jobs, persons who remained employed had more interest and engagement in their work, felt they were helping other people, and felt competent in performing their job tasks. The authors emphasize that these findings highlight the components of job match (interests, values, and competencies) and suggest that job match is a notable predictor of job tenure (size estimates were not available due to the qualitative nature of the study). In addition, these results are consistent with theory positing that task motivation is not only a consequence of interest and enjoyment, but also perceptions of competency (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Other constructs and theories may be relevant to the job match--job tenure link in SMI; for example, person-job fit, defined as "the compatibility between an individual and a work environment that occurs when their characteristics are well matched" (Kristof-Brown, 2005, p. 281) has been found to strongly correlate with intent to quit in samples of the general population (Kristof-Brown, 2005). Examined in psychiatric populations, social cognitive theory suggests that the interaction between self efficacy, work outcome expectations, and specific contextual factors (e.g., job match) influence employment outcomes (Fabian, 2000).

The current study examined the relationship between the multi-faceted constructs of job match and job tenure in a longitudinal study of people with severe mental illness receiving supported employment services. Based on the past studies in related areas, it was hypothesized that overall job match and the components of job match would be positively associated with job tenure. …