Counselors' Perceived Person-Environment Fit and Career Satisfaction

Article excerpt

This correlational study examined the relationship between career satisfaction and person-organization, demands-abilities, and needs-supplies fit with counselors (N = 464) using the Perceived Job Fit instrument (Cable & DeRue, 2002) and a scale of career satisfaction adapted from the Adult Career Concerns Inventory (Super, Thompson, Lindeman, Myers, & Jordaan, 1988). Using a linear, multiple regression analysis, the authors found that person-organization fit (p = .01) and needs-supplies fit (p = .00) were both positively related to career satisfaction and that there was no relationship between demands-abilities fit and career satisfaction.

The perception of "fit" with a position or organization influences many career-related decisions (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005). Perceived fit influences an individual's choice of organizations (Judge & Cable, 1997; Saks & Ashforth, 1997), an employer's choice of candidates (Cable & Judge, 1997; Kristof-Brown, 2000), and an individual's decision to remain with a company (Cable & Judge, 1996). If the individual and work are compatible, then a fit or match is made and career satisfaction often results (Cable Sc DeRue, 2002; Erdogan & Bauer, 2005; Resick, Baltes, & Shantz, 2007). The concept of fit arises from vocational theories related to person-environment fit (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Holland, 1973, 1985), in which an individual's personal perception of compatibility with the work environment influences factors such as organizational commitment, career success, stability, and satisfaction (Ehrhart Sc Makransky, 2007).

Perceived person-environment fit is not a single construct but rather consists of three domains: person-organization fit, demands-abilities fit, and needs-supplies fit (Cable & DeRue, 2002; Resick et al., 2007). Perceived person- organization (P-O) fit is defined as the congruence between the employee's personal values and the organization's culture (Cable 8c DeRue, 2002; Resick et al., 2007). When individuals experience P-O fit, they feel connected to the mission of the organization and arc more likely to put the benefits of the organization above themselves and find it difficult to leave (Cable & DeRue, 2002). Demands-abilities (D-A) fit is sometimes referred to as person-job fit (Hinkle & Choi, 2009) and is defined as the correspondence between an employee's skills and the demands of the job (Cable & DeRue, 2002; Resick et al., 2007). If the employee's ability exceeds the demands of the position, then the employee risks becoming complacent or disinterested in his or her position. If an employee's ability does not meet the minimum requirements of the position, then production is lost and the development of the employee is undermined, resulting in the employee being less attracted to his or her occupation (Cable & DeRue, 2002). Finally, needs-supplies (N-S) fit is the extent to which employees' needs and tangible work rewards match, whether the rewards are in the form of pay, benefits, or training (Cable & DeRue, 2002). For example, younger employees without children may value above-market pay with minimum benefits whereas older employees with families may prefer a comprehensive benefits package with average pay (Cable & DeRue, 2002).

Individuals' perceived person- environment fit is crucial to all industries, but especially within die human services, because tough economic rimes often increase the need for services but the funds to provide those services are decreasing. In a turbulent economy with many employers making cuts while also increasing demands on employees, perception of fit plays a vital role in retained employees' satisfaction. This is especially true in the field of counseling, in which the need for services has increased as a result of the economic downturn while the funds to compensate for these services have decreased, resulting in increased occupational burnout and loss of valuable workers (Leiter & Maslach, 2005). …