Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Investigating the Relationship between Employees' Career Anchors and Their Psychosocial Employability Attributes in a Financial Company

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Investigating the Relationship between Employees' Career Anchors and Their Psychosocial Employability Attributes in a Financial Company

Article excerpt


Key focus

Proactive career management has become essential in the contemporary workplace for employees to sustain their employability (Bezuidenhout, 2011; Chudzikowski, 2012; Schreuder & Coetzee, 2011; Tones, Pillay & Kelly, 2011), especially in the financial sector (Joao & Coetzee, 2011). The financial sector is recognised for its quest to attract, retain and develop talent from diverse groups of people due to global and national skills shortages in this sector (DHET, 2014; Joao & Coetzee, 2011; Pato & Spira, 2008; South African Institute of Chartered Accountants [SAICA], 2008). Hillage and Pollard (1998) view employability as the capacity of an individual to gain initial employment, to maintain employment and to move self-sufficiently within the labour market. The challenge of sustaining one's employability in a highly dynamic and turbulent labour market with unclear career paths places new demands on employees' ability to navigate their career development (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012; Van der Heijde, 2014). Research points to the importance of psychosocial career meta-capacities in helping employees to manage their career development and employability (Coetzee, 2014; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012; Stauffer, Maggiori, Froidevaux & Rossier, 2014; Tones et al., 2011). Career management practices in organisations should help individuals gain awareness of the career meta-capacities they need to sustain their employability (Nazar & Van der Heijden, 2012; Schreuder & Coetzee, 2011; Van der Heijde, 2014). In this regard, the present study focuses on the constructs of career anchors (Schein, 1990) and psychosocial employability attributes (Bezuidenhout, 2011), which have been recognised in the research literature as important psychosocial career meta-capacities in contemporary career development (Coetzee & Schreuder, 2014; Potgieter, 2012, 2014).

Background to the study

Research on the relationship between individuals' career self-concept and their self-perceived employability has increased in importance in the light of the more turbulent and uncertain nature of individuals' career paths (Chudzikowski, 2012; Nazar & Van der Heijden, 2012). In terms of career management and development, work is seen as an important context for the expression of one's self (Nazar & Van der Heijden, 2012). Edgar Schein's seminal work on career anchors emphasises the development of a stable career selfconcept or identity (which he termed the 'career anchor') in career decision-making and management (Feldman & Bolino, 1996; Schein, 1990). Schein's (1978, 1992) research on the career anchors of employees suggests that individuals' true career-related abilities, needs and values become crystallised through a variety of real-work experiences. Research by Beyer and Hanna (2002) as well as Nazar and Van der Heijden (2012) corroborates this view by suggesting that the career identity develops in the context of the workplace and the work experiences that give individuals the chance to enact a variety of roles and explore different identities, which add more complexity to their identities in terms of roles, interests and abilities. Work experiences facilitate the integration of individuals' interests with their abilities, preferences and values and, as a consequence, a stable career identity as expressed by people's career anchors (Coetzee & Schreuder, 2014; Feldman & Bolino, 1996).

Coetzee and Schreuder (2014) view people's career anchors as important career meta-capacities in contemporary career development. Career meta-capacities denote individuals' career-related psychological capital and social resources and strengths that enable them to be self-directed learners and proactive agents in the construction and design of their careers and employability in the contemporary turbulent occupational world (Coetzee, 2014; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). Ndzube (2013) notes that in the volatile labour market conditions of the 21st century, the external career is bound to take different shapes and forms and individuals may be forced to take decisions that have not been carefully considered. …

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