Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Employees' Work Engagement and Job Commitment: The Moderating Role of Career Anchors

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Employees' Work Engagement and Job Commitment: The Moderating Role of Career Anchors

Article excerpt


Key focus

Researchers continue to emphasise the importance of studying employees' engagement and commitment because of the impact thereof on the successful performance of an organisation (Chovwen 2012; Field & Buitendach 2011; Lumley 2009; Nurittamont 2012; Mendes & Stander 2011). Committed and engaged employees are regarded as valued assets in organisations (Bothma & Roodt 2012; Ncube & Jerie 2012; Nurittamont 2012). Organisations therefore continue to focus on human resource initiatives that enhance the commitment, satisfaction and engagement of their employees (Ncube & Jerie 2012; Soulsby 2012; Takash 2012; Vuori, Toppinen-Tanner & Mutanen 2012).

Background to the study

A central challenge in enhancing employees' engagement and commitment is to create work conditions that facilitate perceptions of fit or congruence between individuals' career self-concepts, values, needs and desires and the characteristics of their jobs (Lumley 2009; Tan & Quek 2001), and the organisation's cultural values, practices and objectives (Lumley 2009; Martins & Coetzee 2007, 2011). People's inner work lives, their self-identities, inner career goals, motivations and desires, and the characteristics of their jobs have been shown to influence their attitudes toward their jobs and the organisation (Amabile & Kramer 2012; Bothma & Roodt 2012; Hirschi 2012; Lumley 2009; Yuan et al. 2012) because they appear to act as a motivating force that generate feelings of engagement and commitment (Coetzee & De Villiers 2010; Döckel 2003; Meyer, Stanley & Parfyonova 2012; Oyewobi, Suleiman & Jamil 2012; Roodt 1997).

People's self-concepts have been related to their continuing commitment (Johnson, Chang & Yang 2010; Vandenberghe & Panaccio 2012) and work engagement (Bothma & Roodt 2012).

Self-concepts are based on self-definitions, which flow from one's sense of uniqueness and how one compares to others, and reflect a focus on one's own interests. Once the self-concept has been formed, it functions as a stabilising force, an anchor, and can therefore be thought of as the values and motives that the person will not give up if forced to make a choice (Schein 1996). Individual self-concepts instil the willingness to preserve valued outcomes (i.e. autonomy, rewards, recognition and growth or development) in the employment relationship and minimise resource losses (i.e. personal characteristics such as talents, abilities, values and motives and conditions and energies that are valued in their own right) (Vandenberghe & Panaccio 2012; Schein 1996). Feeling that one has retained valued personal resources in the person-environment interaction results in the feeling that one is in a position to devote enough energy to a line of action; in other words one has higher levels of motivation, engagement and commitment (Ferreira 2012; Powell & Meyer 2004; Tladinyane 2012; Vandenberghe & Panaccio 2012). Engagement (i.e. high levels of energy, dedication and absorption in one's work) and commitment (i.e. high levels of job attachment and motivation) may help to strengthen the career identity through concrete job-related experiences and feedback that are congruent with the individual's interests and integrated with their abilities and values (Weber & Ladkin 2009). Research also provides evidence of a positive relationship between the characteristics of people's jobs (i.e. challenging tasks, skills variety, high levels of job responsibility, task autonomy, task feedback and task identity) and their work engagement and commitment to their jobs (Crawford, LePine & Rich 2010; Döckel 2003; Vandenberghe & Panaccio 2012; Van Dyk 2011).

In this study we seek to understand the fit between individuals' work engagement, their career self-concepts (as expressed by their career anchors) and their job commitment. The career anchor is the important motivational element of people's internal careers and is a reflection of the individual's career self-concept, which consists of personal resources such as self-perceived talents and abilities, basic values and the evolved sense of motives and needs as they pertain to the career (Schein 1996, 2006). …

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