Perceived employability and well-being: An overview



This article aims to provide an overview of research, theoretically and empirically, on the relationship between perceived employability and well-being, with a view on arriving at suggestions for future research and implications for practice. Perceived employability concerns individuals’ perception of their possibilities to obtain and maintain employment. A major hypothesis in the employability literature is that perceived employability causes well-being. Theoretically, the dominant assumption is that perceived employability provides individuals with feelings of control over their employment situation, which in turn promotes well-being. However, one could also argue for reversed causation, when well-being promotes perceived employability. Taken together, this may suggest reciprocal causation. Empirically, evidence for the relationship between perceived employability and well-being remains inconclusive, both concerning the strength and the direction of the relationship.


perceived employability, well-being, overview

Full Text:



Armstrong-Stassen, M. (1994). Coping with transition: A study of layoff survivors. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(7), 597-621.

Aronsson, G., & Göransson, S. (1999). Permanent employment but not in a preferred occupation: Psychological and medical aspects, research implications. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4, 152-163.

Berntson, E. (2008). Employability perceptions: Nature, determinants, and implications for health and wellbeing. (Doctoral dissertation in psychology), University of Stockholm, Stockholm.

Berntson, E., & Marklund, S. (2007). The relationship between perceived employability and subsequent health. Work and Stress, 21(3), 279-292. doi: 10.1080/02678370701659215

Berntson, E., Sverke, M., & Marklund, S. (2006). Predicting perceived employability: Human capital or labour market opportunities? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27, 223-244.

Cron, W. L., & Slocum, J. W. Jr. (1986). The influence of career stages on salespeople's job attitudes, work perceptions, and performance. Journal of Marketing Research, 23(2), 119-129.

De Cuyper, N., Baillien, E., & De Witte, H. (2009). Job insecurity, perceived employability and targets' and perpetrators' experiences of workplace bullying. Work and Stress, 23(3), 206-224. doi: 10.1080/02678370903257578

De Cuyper, N., Bernhard-Oettel, C., Berntson, E., De Witte, H., & Alarco, B. (2008). Employability and employees’ well-being: Mediation by job insecurity. Journal of Applied Psychology: An international Review, 57(3), 488-509.

De Cuyper, N., & De Witte, H. (2008). Gepercipieerde kans op een baan versus een betere baan: Relaties met arbeidstevredenheid en welzijn (Perceived chances on a job versus a better job: Associations with job satisfaction and well-being). Gedrag & Organisatie, 4, 475-492.

De Cuyper, N., & De Witte, H. (2010). Temporary employment and perceived employability: Mediation by impression management. Journal of Career Development, 37(3), 1-18.

De Cuyper, N., & De Witte, H. (2011). The management paradox: Self-rated employability and organizational commitment and performance. Personnel Review, 40(2), 152-172.

De Cuyper, N., Mäkikangas, A., Kinnunen, U., Mauno, S., & De Witte, H. (2012). Cross-lagged associations between perceived employability, job insecurity and exhaustion: Testing gain and loss spirals according to the COR theory. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 770-788.

De Cuyper, N., Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., & Mäkikangas, A. (2011). The role of job resources in the relation between perceived employability and turnover intention: A prospective two-sample study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78(2), 253-263.

De Cuyper, N., Raeder, S., Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M., & Wittekind, A. (2012). The association between workers’ employability and burnout in a reorganization context: Longitudinal evidence building upon the Conservation of Resources Theory. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(2), 162-174. doi: 10.1037/a0027348

De Vos, A., De Hauw, S., & Willemse, I. (2015). An integrative model for competency development in organizations: The Flemish case. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1-26. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2014.1003078

De Witte, H. (1999). Job insecurity and psychological well-being: Review of the literature and exploration of some unresolved issues. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(2), 155-177.

Eby, L. T., Butts, M., & Lockwood, A. (2003). Predictors of success in the era of the boundaryless career. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 24, 689-708. doi: 10.1002/job.214

Forrier, A., & Sels, L. (2003). The concept employability: A complex mosaic. International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 3, 102-124. doi: 10.1504/03.2414

Forrier, A., Sels, L. & Stynen, D. (2009). Career mobility at the intersection between agent and structure: A conceptual model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82(4), 739-759.

Forrier, A., Verbruggen, M., & De Cuyper, N. (2015). Integrating different notions of employability in a dynamic chain: The relationship between job transitions, movement capital and perceived employability. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 89,56-64.

Frederickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218-226.

Fugate, M., & Kinicki, A. J. (2008). A dispositional approach to employability: Development of a measure and test of implications for employee reactions to organizational change. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81, 503-527. doi: 10.1348/096317907X241579

Fugate, M., Kinicki, A. J., & Ashforth, B. E. (2004). Employability: A psycho-social construct, its dimensions, and applications. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65(1), 14-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2003.10.005

Griffeth, R. W., Steel, R. P., Allen, D. G., & Bryan, N. (2005). The development of a multidimensional measure of job market cognitions: The Employment Opportunity Index (EOI). Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(2), 335-349. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.2.335

Groot, W., & Maassen Van den Brink, H. (2000). Education, training, and employability. Applied Economics, 20, 573-581.

Hillage, J., & Pollard, E. (1998). Employability: Developing a framework for policy analysis. Department for Education and Employment, Research Report No. RR85, London: Institute for Employment Studies.

Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources. A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. The American Psychologist Association, 4(3), 513-524.

Hobfoll, S.E. (2002). Social and psychological resources and adaptation. Review of General Psychology, 6(4), 307-324.

Hobfoll, S. E., Johnson, R. J., Ennis, N., & Jackson, A. P. (2003). Resource loss, resource gain, and emotional outcomes among inner city women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 632-643.

Jahoda, M. (1982). Employment and unemployment: A social-psychological analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Judge, T. A., & Watanabe, S. (1993). Another look at the job satisfaction - life satisfaction relationship. Journal of Applied Psychology, 8(6), 939-948.

Kasl, S. V. (1982). Strategies of research on economic instability and health. Psychological Medicine, 12, 637-649.

Kinnunen, U., Mäkikangas, A., Mauno, S., Siponen, K., & Nätti, J. (2011). Perceived employability. Investigating outcomes among involuntary and voluntary temporary employees compared to permanent employees. Career Development International, 16(2), 140-160.

Kirves, K., De Cuyper, N., Kinnunen, U., & Mäkikangas, A. (2014). Trajectories of perceived employability and their associations with well-being at work: A three-wave study. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 13(1), 46-57. doi: 10.1027/1866-5888/a000103

Kirves, K., De Cuyper, N., Kinnunen, U., & Nätti, J. (2011). Perceived job insecurity and perceived employability in relation to temporary and permanent workers’ psychological symptoms: A two samples study. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 84(8), 899-909. doi: 10.1007/s00420-011-0630-y

Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping, New York: Springer Publishing.

Leana, C. R., & Feldman, D. C. (1990). Individual responses to job loss: Empirical findings from two field studies. Human Relations, 43(11), 1155-1181.

Leana, C. R., & Feldman, D. C. (1992). Coping with job loss: How individuals, organizations, and communities respond to layoffs. New-York: Lexington Books.

London, M. (1993). Relationships between career motivation, empowerment and support for career development. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 66(1), 55-69. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8325.1993.tb00516.x

Luhmann, M., H ofmann, W., E id, M., & L ucas, R. E. (2012). Subjective well-being and adaptation to life events: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(3), 592-615.

Magaletta, P. R., & Oliver, J. M. (1999). The hope construct, will, and ways: Their relations with selfefficacy, and general well-being. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55, 539-551.

Mäkikangas, A. M., Feldt, T., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., Kinunnen, M.-L., & Pulkkinen, L. (2006). The factor structure and factorial invariance of the 12-Item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) across time: Evidence from two community-based samples. Psychological Assessment, 18(4), 444-451.

Marler, J. H., Barringer, M. W., & Milkovich, G. T. (2002). Boundaryless and traditional contingent employees: Worlds apart. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 425-453.

Mastekaasa, A. (1996). Unemployment and health: Selection effects. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 6,189-205.

McKee-Ryan, F. M., Kinicki, A. J., Song, Z., & Wanberg, C. R. (2005). Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: A meta-analytic study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 53-76. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.1.53

McQuaid, R. W., & Lindsay, C. (2005). The concept of employability. Urban Studies, 42(2), 197-219. doi: 10.1080/0042098042000316100

Nauta, A., van Vianen, A., van der Heijden, B., van Dam, K., & Willemsen, M. (2009). Understanding the factors that promote employability orientation: The impact of employability culture, career satisfaction, and role breath self-efficacy. Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology, 82, 233-251.

Ng, T. W. H., Eby, L. T., Sorensen, K. L., & Feldman, D. C. (2005). Predictors of objective and subjective career success: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 58, 367-408. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2005.00515.x

Östlin, P. (1989). Occupational career and health – Methodological considerations on the healthy worker effect. (Doctoral dissertation in medicine and pharmacy), Uppsala University, Uppsala.

Parker, P. A., & Kulik, J. A. (1995). Burnout, self- and supervisor-rated job performance, and absenteeism among nurses. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 18, 581-599.

Paul, K. I., & Moser, K. (2009). Unemployment impairs mental health: Meta-analyses. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(3), 264-282.

Pfeffer, J. (1998). The human equation: Building profits by putting people first. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.

Podsakoff, P. M., Mackenzie, S. B., Lee, J., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879-903.

Philippaers, K., Camps, J., De Cuyper, N., Forrier, A., & Stouten, J. (2015, May). Enlightening a dark side to perceived employability: On the role of power and perceived justice in the relation to job performance. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, Oslo, Norway.

Pronzato, C. D. (2009). Return to work after childbirth: Does parental leave matter in Europe? Review of Economics of the Household, 7(4), 341-360. doi: 10.1007/s11150-009-9059-4

Roskies, E., & Louis-Guerin, C. (1990). Job insecurity in managers: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 11, 345-359. doi: 10.1002/job.4030110503

Rothwell, A., & Arnold, J. (2007). Self-perceived employability: Development and validation of a scale. Personnel Review, 36, 23–41. doi: 10.1108/00483480710716704

Rothwell, A., Jewell, S., & Hardie, M. (2009). Selfperceived employability: Investigating the responses of post-graduate students. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 75, 152-161. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.05.002

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.

Silla, I., De Cuyper, N., Gracia, F. J., Peiro, J. M., & De Witte, H. (2009). Job insecurity and well-being: Moderation by employability. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(6), 739-751.

Steel, P., Schmidt, J., & Shultz, J. (2008). Refining the relationship between personality and subjective wellbeing. Psychological Bulletin, 134(1), 138-161.

Sullivan, S. E., & Baruch, Y. (2009). Advances in career theory and research: A critical review and agenda for future exploration. Journal of Management, 35(6), 1542-1571. doi: 10.1177/0149206309350082

Sverke, M., Hellgren, J., & Näswall, K. (2002). No Security: A meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(3), 242-264.

Taris, T. W. (2002). Unemployment and mental health: A longitudinal perspective. International Journal of Stress Management, 9(1), 43-57.

Van Dam, K. (2004). Antecedents and consequences of the employability orientation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 13, 29-51.

Vander Elst, T., De Cuyper, N., & De Witte, H. (2011). The role of perceived control in the relationship between job insecurity and psychosocial outcomes: Moderator or mediator? Stress and Health, 27(3), 215-227.

Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M. (2005), “No one has ever promised you a rose garden”, On shared responsibility and employability enhancing strategies throughout careers, Inaugural address delivered in abridged form on the occasion of the public acceptance of the professorship in Strategic HRM, in particular aimed at the dynamics of individuals career development at the Open University of The Netherlands, Heerlen, Open University of The Netherlands, Van Gorcum, Assen.

Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M., Schalk, R., & van Veldhoven, M. J. P. M. (2008). Ageing and careers: European research on long-term career development and early retirement. Career Development International, 13(2), 85-94. doi: 10.1108/13620430810860512

Van der Heijde, C. M., & Van der Heijden, B. I. J. M. (2006). A competence-based and multidimensional operationalization and measurement of employability. Human Resource Management, 45, 449-476. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20119

Vanhercke, D. (2015, May). Skill utilization, perceived employability and well-being: A process within the Conservation of Resources (COR) Theory. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, Oslo, Norway.

Vanhercke, D., De Cuyper, N., Peeters, E., & De Witte, H. (2014). Defining perceived employability: A psychological approach. Personnel Review,43(4), 592-605. doi: 10.1108/PR-07-2012-0110

Vanhercke, D., Kirves, K., De Cuyper, N., Verbruggen, M., Forrier, A., & De Witte, H. (2015). Perceived employability and psychological functioning framed by gain and loss cycles. Career Development International, 20(2), 179–198. doi: 10.1108/CDI-12-2014-0160

Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., De Witte, H., & Feather, N. T. (2005). Understanding unemployed people’s job search behavior, unemployment experience and wellbeing: A comparison of expectancy-value theory and self-determination theory. British Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 269-287.

Wanberg, C. R. (2012). The individual experience of unemployment. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 369-396. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100500

Wanberg, C. R., Zhu J., & Van Hooft, E. A. J. (2010). The job search grind: Perceived progress, self-reactions, and self-regulation of search effort. Academy of Management Journal, 53(4), 788-807.

Westaby, J. D., & Braithwaite, K. N. (2003). Specific factors underlying reemployment self-efficacy. The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 39(4), 415-437. doi: 10.1177/0021886303261234

Westphal, L. E. (2002). Technology strategies for economic development in a fast changing global economy. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 11(4-5), 275–320. doi: 10.1080/10438590200000002

Wittekind, A., Raeder, S., & Grote, G. (2010). A longitudinal study of determinants of perceived employability. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31, 566-586. doi: 10.1002/job.646

Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2007). The role of personal resources in the job demands-resources model. International Journal of Stress Management, 14(2), 121-141.

Yaniv, G. (1995). Burnout, absenteeism, and the overtime decision. Journal of Economic Psychology, 16(2), 297-309. doi: 10.1016/0167-4870(95)00011-C


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 DORIEN VANHERCKE

Asociatia de Psihologie Industriala si Organizationala
Strada Grigore Moisil, nr. 42, sector 2, București, cod poștal 023796

Creative Commons License
This work by Psihologia Resurselor Umane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at