A sustainable career perspective of work ability: The importance of resources across the lifespan

David Stuer*, Ans De Vos, Beatrice I.J.M. Van Der Heijden, Jos Akkermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this study, we examine employees’ perceptions of their work ability from a sustainable career perspective. Specifically, we investigate the role of a person’s perceived current fit (i.e., autonomy, strengths use and needs-supply fit), and future fit with their job as resources that affect perceived work ability, defined as the extent to which employees feel capable of continuing their current work over a longer time period. In addition, we test whether meaningfulness of one’s work mediates this relationship, and we address the moderating role of age. Our hypotheses were tested using a sample of 5205 employees working in diverse sectors in Belgium. The results of multi-group Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) provide mixed evidence for our hypotheses. While all four resources were significantly and positively related to perceived meaningfulness, only needs-supply fit was positively related to perceived work ability. Strengths use, on the other hand, was also significantly related to perceived work ability, yet in a negative way. These findings underscore the importance of distinguishing between several types of resources to understand their impact upon perceived work ability. Interestingly, the relationship between future-orientedness of the job and perceived work ability was moderated by age, with the relationship only being significant and positive for middle-aged and senior workers. This suggests an increasingly important role of having a perspective of future fit with one’s job as employees grow older. Contrary to our expectations, meaningfulness did not mediate the relationships between resources and perceived work ability. We discuss these findings and their implications from the perspective of sustainable career development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2572
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019


  • Age
  • Future-orientedness of the job
  • Meaningfulness of work
  • Perceived fit with current job
  • Perceived work ability
  • Sustainable careers


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