Deirdre A. Pickerell, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development
The purpose of this research was to explore the emerging construct of career engagement, which is defined as the emotional and cognitive connection to one’s career; it is a state in which one is focused, energized, and able to derive pleasure from activities linked to work and other life roles. The conceptual model proposes that career engagement is realized through the dynamic interaction between the challenges one is experiencing and one’s level of capacity to face those challenges. Insufficient challenge results in movement out of the zone of engagement towards feeling underutilized whereas too much challenge results in feeling overwhelmed. The study focused on examining the career engagement of Canadian Career Development Practitioners (CDPs), a group of professionals tasked with helping Canadians with career and employment-related concerns.
There have been no previous studies exploring career engagement. Previous studies with this participant sample have not focused on engagement resulting in this study establishing an important foundation for ongoing work. The study took a mixed-method approach, using the newly developed quantitative measure of career engagement supported by some qualitative questions.
Findings from this study indicate that, overall, Canadian CDPs are engaged with their careers; however, the sector’s youngest and newest as well as oldest and most senior workers are least likely to be engaged. In exploring the career engagement model, nine factors emerged of which work-life boundaries, work-life balance, resources, and values alignment were found to be significant predictors of career engagement.
Career engagement is an emerging construct, at the initial stages of development. Although this study produced meaningful results, both for the career engagement of Canadian CDPs and for the model itself, more research is needed. To extend studies on the viability of the model, it is important to ensure broader representation, across sectors and work roles, as well as more equal distribution of such factors as gender, age, and geographical region.
Key words: career, engagement, career development practitioner