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Coping Proactively with Economic Stress: Career Adaptability in the Face of Job Insecurity, Job Loss, Unemployment, and Underemployment

The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being

ISBN: 978-1-78190-004-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-005-5

ISSN: 1479-3555

Publication date: 2 October 2012

Abstract

Economic stressors such as job insecurity, job loss, unemployment, and underemployment cause severe difficulties for the workers affected, their families, organizations, and societies overall. Consequently, most past research has taken a thoroughly negative perspective on economic stress, addressing its diverse negative consequences and the ways that people try to cope with them. And even when following the advice provided by the scientific literature, people affected by economic stress will usually end up being off worse than they were before the onset of the stressor.

The current chapter pays credit to this perspective yet also tries to counterbalance it with an alternative one. While acknowledging the vast amount of literature outlining the negative consequences of economic stress on peoples’ well-being and careers, some literature also points at opportunities for a more positive perspective. More specifically, we argue that affected people can use a wide repertoire of behaviors for handling their current situation. Of particular promise in this regard is the concept of career adaptability, generally defined as the ability to change to fit into new career-related circumstances. Indeed, studies show that under certain conditions, career adaptability can facilitate people's search for not just any job but for a qualitatively better job, thus breaking through the spiral of losses usually associated with economic stress.

For the purpose of this argument, we link career adaptability to the concept of proactive coping, analyzing how and under which conditions career adaptability may present a contextualized form of proactive coping. We then address known personal and situational antecedents of career adaptability and show how career adaptability may be fostered and trained among different types of job seekers. We end this chapter with a discussion of open questions as well as directions for future research.

Keywords

Citation

Klehe, U.-C., Zikic, J., van Vianen, A.E.M., Koen, J. and Buyken, M. (2012), "Coping Proactively with Economic Stress: Career Adaptability in the Face of Job Insecurity, Job Loss, Unemployment, and Underemployment", Perrewé, P.L., Halbesleben, J.R.B. and Rosen, C.C. (Ed.) The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being (Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 131-176. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3555(2012)0000010008

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited