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«ABSTRACT he objective of this study was to determine the relationship between 9T the career anchors (measured by the Career Orientations Inventory), ...»

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The relation between career anchors, emotional

intelligence and employability satisfaction among

workers in the service industry

M. Coetzee & D. Schreuder


he objective of this study was to determine the relationship between


the career anchors (measured by the Career Orientations Inventory),

emotional intelligence (measured by the Assessing Emotions Scale)

and employability satisfaction (measured by a one-item scale) of a

random sample of 270 adults employed in the service industry. A quantitative survey design was used. Multiple regression analyses revealed significant relationships between the participants’ career anchors, emotional intelligence and employability satisfaction.

The results further showed the entrepreneurial creativity, service/ dedication to a cause and autonomy career anchors to be significant predictors of emotional intelligence. Employability satisfaction significantly predicted the pure challenge and service/dedication to a cause career anchors. Managing others’ emotions significantly predicted employability satisfaction. The findings contribute new knowledge to the field of career psychology and may be used to inform human resource practices concerned with optimising person– job fit and the job and career satisfaction of employees. In the light of the turbulent world of work context, career counsellors may also find the results useful in facilitating proactive career behaviour among employees.

career anchors, career development, emotional intelligence, employability

ey words:

10K satisfaction Prof. M. Coetzee and Prof. D. Schreuder are in the Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa. E-mail: coetzm1@unisa.ac.za 76 Southern African Business Review Volume 15 Number 3 2011 Relation between career anchors, emotional intelligence and employability satisfaction Introduction reating a career in a world with decreased job security, fast-paced technology and 1C increasing personal responsibility for constant upskilling, employability and lifelong learning are some of the key challenges faced by today’s workforce (Baruch 2004;

Marshall & Bonner 2003; Schreuder & Coetzee 2011; Sinclair 2009). Researchers have noted that the complexitiesof the increasingly turbulent career context have significantly impacted people’s career attitudes and affective experiences of their working lives (Arnold & Cohen 2008; Barnett & Bradley 2007; Baruch 2004; Duys, Ward, Maxwell & Eaton-Comerford 2008; Kidd 2007). Some of these attitudes and experiences relate to less positive work experiences resulting from more frequent career transitions, a sense of instability and dissatisfying and insecure working conditions. In response to the more turbulent and uncertain career context, people also seem to adopt a more proactive stance toward their careers by taking personal ownership for their career development and focusing on their subjective experiences of career success and continued employability.

Individuals’ employability provides them with an inner sense of stability and security (Schreuder & Coetzee 2011) and relates to their ability to achieve sustainable employment and move self-sufficiently within an uncertain and unpredictable labour market (Hillage & Pollard 1998). Employability is regarded as a form of functional flexibility (Van der Heijden 2002) or career resiliency (Schreuder & Coetzee 2011) and reflects individuals’ self-efficacious beliefs about the possibilities of their getting and maintaining employment even in the face of uncertain work circumstances (Berntson, Näswall & Sverke 2008). Employability presupposes proactive career behaviours and abilities that help people to fulfil, acquire or create work through the optimal use of both occupation-related and career meta-competencies (Schreuder & Coetzee 2011). Career meta-competencies include awareness of the motives and values (or career anchors) that drive one’s career decisions and experiences of career satisfaction, behavioural adaptability and emotional literacy in dealing with setbacks and failures (Coetzee 2008; Coetzee & Bergh 2009). As a career meta-competency, research increasingly recognises emotional intelligence as an important attribute of people’s employability and career decision-making (Brown, George-Curran & Smith 2003; Coetzee & Beukes 2010; Pool & Sewell 2007; Yorke & Knight 2004).

Emotional intelligence positively relates to less dysfunctional career thinking, greater career decision-making self-efficacy, a higher level of willingness to explore a variety of career preferences, and to commit to attractive career options (Puffer 2011). People’s emotional intelligence is also positively associated with important employment experiences and their emotional attachment to their current careers and jobs (Carson & Carson 1998). However, although the research literature provides M. Coetzee & D. Schreuder evidence of the relationship between people’s emotional intelligence and their employability (Coetzee & Beukes 2010), there seems to be a paucity of research regarding the relationship between people’s emotional intelligence and their career anchors, and how their career anchors relate to their employability satisfaction.

People’s career anchors influence their career choices, life satisfaction, and job and career satisfaction (Coetzee, Bergh & Schreuder 2010). Career anchors are regarded as an important aspect of individuals’ career self-concept, which provides clarity of career values, motives, interests and needs. Awareness of one’s career anchors and how these influence one’s job and career satisfaction have been related to positive career choice outcomes (Schein 1990).

In the light of the research literature indicating how people’s employability, emotional intelligence and career anchors influence their subjective career experiences, life satisfaction, and job and career satisfaction, it seems important to explore the relationship between these three variables in the contemporary career context. People’s job and career satisfaction is increasingly recognised by organisations as important in retaining valuable and talented staff (Lumley 2010).

Research objective e objective of this study was to determine the relation between career anchors, 1Th emotional intelligence and employability satisfaction. Should the results reveal significant relationships between the variables, the study may potentially contribute to the advancement of organisational career development practices aimed at enhancing employees’ subjective work experiences, and job and career satisfaction. Individuals’ job and career satisfaction has been shown to influence their organisational commitment, turnover intentions, motivation and productivity (João 2011; Lumley 2010; Ng & Feldman 2010).

Each of the three variables – career anchors, emotional intelligence and employability satisfaction – will be further explored in the literature review that follows.

Career anchors e concept of career anchors offers valuable insights in understanding diversity 1Th in career preferences and contemporary career patterns (Rodrigues & Guest 2010).

Schein (1978) regards career anchors as a pattern of self-perceived talents and abilities, basic personal values and an evolved sense of motives and needs (as they pertain to the career) that influence a person’s career-related decisions. These selfRelation between career anchors, emotional intelligence and employability satisfaction perceived talents and abilities, values, motives and needs represent the person’s career identity or self-concept (Schein 1978, 1990, 1996). A person’s dominant career anchor reflects a major career-related concern that forms an integral part of his or her basic self-concept. This concern becomes an overriding issue at every stage of the person’s career and serves as an internal driving force when making career decisions (Schein 1990).

Research by Schein (1978, 1990, 1996) suggests that most people’s career selfconcepts (self-perceived talents and abilities, motives and values) are grounded in eight career anchors (summarised in Table 1). Feldman and Bolino (1996) reconceptualised Schein’s eight career anchors into three distinct groupings along with their inherent motivations. These motivations are described as being talents-based, needs-based and values-based anchors. The talents-based anchors consist of managerial competence (willingness to solve complex, whole-of-organisation problems and undertake subsequent decision-making), technical/functional competence (the achievement of expert status among peers) and entrepreneurial creativity (opportunity for creativity and identification of new businesses, products or services). The needs-based anchors consist of security and stability (long-term employment for health benefits and retirement options), autonomy and independence (personal freedom in job content and settings) and lifestyle motivations (balancing one’s personal and the family’s welfare with work commitments). The values-based anchors consist of pure challenge (testing personal endurance through risky projects or physically challenging work) and service and dedication to a cause (working for the greater good of organisations or communities). Table 1 provides a brief overview of the core goals, desires and values underlying each of the eight career anchors (Coetzee 2011). The goals, desires and values underlying people’s career anchors influence their career choices and decisions, and their job and career satisfaction (Lumley 2010). Research indicates that people generally strive for congruence between their career anchors and the work environment in which they pursue their career anchors (Schein 1990).

Empirical evidence suggests that when individuals achieve congruence between their career anchors and their work environment, they are more likely to achieve positive career outcomes (Feldman & Bolino 1996, 2000). Research also indicates individuals’ need for congruence between their work and personal interests, as well as the shift of individual preferences towards career anchors that are focused on the pursuit of personal interests along with meaningful work (Coetzee & Schreuder 2008). However, research evidence also suggests that people can have primary and secondary career anchors (Rodrigues & Guest 2010). People with a dominant priority at work are able to make unambiguous career decisions, exercise more control over their job placement and have more positive career outcomes (Feldman & Bolino M. Coetzee & D. Schreuder 1996; Rodrigues & Guest 2010). According to Rodrigues and Guest (2010), people with a wider portfolio of career values and goals may be better equipped to thrive in the contemporary landscape. Holding multiple occupational identities may lead to enhanced feelings of psychological well-being (Rodrigues & Guest 2010) and enable people to adapt more successfully to a changing work environment (Stets & Burke 2000).

According to Schein (1990), people’s career anchors tend to develop over time, and individuals generally discover their dominant career anchors when they start to stabilise in their careers or jobs – usually at the age of 30. Considering that the career self-concept continuously evolves on the basis of the insight gained through knowledge and experience (Schein 2006; Super 1990), research evidence suggests that career anchors are potentially flexible and adaptable to people’s work and life circumstances. Some people seek to redefine their career priorities when they have met their most important career goals (Rodrigues & Guest 2010). Coetzee et al. (2010) also found that people’s career anchors significantly predict their job and career satisfaction, overall life satisfaction and the meaning they attach to work.

Emotional intelligence s previously stated, emotional intelligence positively relates to less dysfunctional 1A career thinking, greater career decision-making self-efficacy and a higher level of willingness to explore a variety of career preferences and to commit to attractive career options (Puffer 2011). Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) original model of emotional intelligence is relevant to the present study. According to these authors, emotional intelligence subsumes Gardner’s (1983) interpersonal intelligence (the ability to understand other people and what motivates them) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to form an accurate model and understanding of oneself and to use the model to operate effectively in life). Based on the assumption that emotional intelligence is a sub-aspect of social intelligence, Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) model proposes that emotional intelligence consists of a set of four conceptually related mental processes: (1) efficiently handling psychological and social problems, (2) accurately appraising and expressing emotion in the self and others, (3) regulating emotion in the self and others, and (4) using emotions adaptively in order to solve problems and achieve one’s goals. The ability to monitor one’s own emotional landscape is thought to lead to greater insight and self-knowledge (Goleman 1998), and guides individuals’ thinking and actions in the career exploration and decisionmaking process (Brown et al. 2003).

Table 1: Core goals and concerns, desires and values underlying Schein’s (1990) career anchors

–  –  –

Source: Coetzee (2011) M. Coetzee & D. Schreuder According to Salovey and Mayer (1990), people differ in the degree to which they display their emotional intelligence. Individuals who appraise and express (perceive and respond to) their emotions accurately are likely to be better understood by the people with whom they interact. They also have the potential to better influence people when they are able to perceive the emotions of the people with whom they interact, as well as to develop empathy (the ability to comprehend another’s feelings and re-experience them oneself).

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