Vulnerable Workers’ Employability Competences: The Role of Establishing Clear Expectations, Developmental Inducements, and Social Organizational Goals

Mieke Audenaert, Beatrice Van der Heijden, Neil Conway, Saskia Crucke, Adelien Decramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Downloads (Pure)


Using an ethical approach to the study of employability, we question the mainstream approach to career self-direction. We focus on a specific category of employees that has been neglected in past research, namely vulnerable workers who have been unemployed for several years and who have faced multiple psychosocial problems. Building on the Ability-Motivation-Opportunity model, we examine how establishing clear expectations, developmental inducements and social organizational goals can foster employability competences of vulnerable workers. Our study took place in the particularly relevant context of social enterprises, which have a primary goal to enhance the employability competences of vulnerable workers. Multilevel analysis of data from 38 CEOs of social enterprises, 121 leaders and 594 workers, demonstrated that establishing clear expectations and developmental inducements enable vulnerable workers to anticipate and optimize their employability competences. Furthermore, a positive association was found between establishing clear expectations and the balance dimension of employability, yet only in social enterprises that prioritize social organizational goals, suggesting the need to recognize the extent organizational goals shape opportunities for vulnerable workers. Establishing clear expectations and developmental inducements can therefore enhance vulnerable workers’ employability competences in supportive contexts; however, there may be detrimental side effects to drifting away from social organizational goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Early online date11 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2019


  • Employability Competences, Vulnerable Workers, AMO model, Establishing Clear Expectations, Developmental Inducements, Social Organizational Goals

Cite this