"I will survive": a construct validation study on the measurement of sustainable employability using different age conceptualizations

P.M. Le Blanc, B.I.J.M. van der Heijden, T. van Vuuren

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38 Citations (Scopus)
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Though the importance of sustainable employability throughout people's working life is undisputed, up till now only one attempt for a conceptual definition has been made (van der Klink et al., 2016). Following the suggestions to further refine and improve this definition recently put forward by Fleuren et al. (2016), we propose an approach to sustainable employability that is based on the Ability-Motivation-Opportunity (AMO) framework, and incorporates three indicators: the ability, the motivation, and the opportunity to continue working, respectively. As sustainable employability is considered to be an important aspect of successful aging at work, this study used four different conceptualizations of aging at work to set up convergent and divergent validity of our operationalization of sustainable employability: calendar age, organizational age (job and organizational tenure), functional age (work ability), and life-span age (partner and children). We formulated several hypotheses that were tested by analyzing data from an online survey among 180 employees from Dutch public service organizations who filled out a questionnaire on different age concepts, and their ability, motivation, and opportunity to continue working. Multiple regression analyses were performed, and results showed that the four conceptualizations of aging were differently related to the three indicators of sustainable employability. Life-span age, in terms of having children, had the strongest negative relationship with the ability to continue working, organizational age (i.e., organizational tenure) had the strongest negative relationship with the motivation to continue working, and functional age had the strongest negative relationship with the opportunity to continue working. Moreover, functional age was significantly negatively related to the other two indicators of sustainable employability too, while life-span age appeared to enhance the ability and motivation to continue working (in terms of having children) and the perceived opportunity to continue working (in terms of having a partner). Calendar age was only important for the opportunity to continue working and appeared to have a negative association with this outcome variable. These results lend support to our proposed operationalization of sustainable employability by showing that the three indicators are differently related to different age conceptualizations thus expanding previous research on the conceptualization of sustainable employability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1690
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2017


  • Ability
  • Calendar age
  • Functional age
  • Life-span age
  • Motivation and opportunity to continue working
  • Organizational age
  • Successful aging
  • Sustainable employability


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