Original Research

Psychological career resources, career adaptability and work engagement of generational cohorts in the media industry

Melinde Coetzee, Nadia Ferreira, Crysanther Shunmugum
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 15 | a868 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.868 | © 2017 Melinde Coetzee, Nadia Ferreira, Crysanther Shunmugum | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 September 2016 | Published: 13 November 2017

About the author(s)

Melinde Coetzee, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Nadia Ferreira, Department of Human Resource Management, University of South Africa, South Africa
Crysanther Shunmugum, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: The global skills crisis coupled with the aging workforce, rapid technological advances and changing nature of work have infringed various challenges upon organisations and employees. Media organisations in particular are affected by these trends, with retention further at risk because of the specialised and scarce skills sought and the versatility and ambiguity inherent in the nature of careers within the media industry, therefore resulting in engagement and skills retention being high on the agenda.

Research purpose: The aim of the study was to explore whether employees’ age, psychological career resources and career adaptability significantly predict their work engagement and whether generational cohorts differ significantly regarding these variables.

Motivation for the study: Within a retention context, it is important to gain insight into the employees’ personal career-related capabilities and dispositions as these are deemed important for driving career development and engagement levels, which, in turn, impact on the retention of talent.

Research design, approach and method: A stratified random sample (N = 248) of predominantly female (63.3%) and black African people (54%) within their early career stages (80% < 45 years) was used. A cross-sectional, quantitative research design approach was followed. Stepwise regression analyses and tests for significant mean differences were performed.

Main findings: The results indicated generational cohort (age), career confidence (career adaptability) and career harmonisers (psychological career resources) as significant predictors of work engagement. The Generation Y individuals had higher levels of psychological career resources (career preferences, career values and career drivers), while the Generation X individuals had higher career curiosity. The Baby Boomers showed higher levels of work engagement.

Practical and managerial implications: Psycho-social career meta-capacities positively related to work engagement. It is therefore essential that these constructs are taken into account in career development and engagement practices, which, in turn, may contribute towards enhancing talent retention and employability of individuals within the media sector.

Contribution: The study contributed new insights on psychological factors among generational cohorts in the media industry that predict their work engagement and possible retention.


generational cohort; psychological career resources; career adaptability; work engagement


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