Despite ample interest in the potential consequences of work engagement over the last two decades, the question of whether work engagement predicts proximal and more distal career-related outcomes has gained surprisingly little attention. Using Conservation of Resources (COR) theory and a sustainable careers framework, the aim of this study was to investigate whether work engagement predicts register-based outcomes of wages, moves in occupational rankings, unemployment, and disability pensions.
We used nationally representative survey data (n = 4876; response rate 68.7%) on Finnish employees derived from the Quality of Work Life Survey (QWLS) and matched respondent data to the Finnish Longitudinal Employer–Employee Data (FLEED), which covered the period 2013–2015. We utilized ordinary least squares (OLS) and instrumental variable (IV) estimations to strengthen causality in the analyses. Even after controlling for outcomes at baseline and several covariates, e.g., health, we found that work engagement positively predicted future wages and the probability of rising in occupational rankings, and negatively predicted future unemployment and disability pensions.
This study extends the scope of the possible benefits of work engagement for employees, organizations, and society at large and contributes to career research by indicating the importance of work engagement for objectively measured indicators of sustainable careers.