Presentation T P37

T P37 (Poster Presentation):
A new tool to measure capabilities for sustainable employability

Presented by: Femke Abma


Abma FI1, Brouwer S1, Bültmann U1, Wilt van der GJ2, Klink van der JJL1

  1. University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen The Netherlands
  2. Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands



Performing valued work is thought to be associated with a better sustainable employability. The capability approach (CA) relates the an individual’s capacity (what a person can do) with the possibilities that the environment offers (to enable an individual) to reach valuable goals. It is not only important that workers have appropriate knowledge and skills, but also that the organizational context facilitates and offers opportunities to perform valuable tasks. Recently, a new instrument was developed to identify an individual’s capability set that allows him/her to achieve valuable work functionings, as an indicator for sustainable employability. The aim of this study was to explore the relation between these capability items and work ability and willingness to continue working, as proxy measures for sustainable employability.


A cross-sectional web-based survey study was conducted among N= 1250 workers (mean age 42.7, range 17-70 years). The capability set was measured with 7 items. For each item we asked if people A) think this (work) aspect is important for them (valued), B) their work offers them sufficient opportunities to do it, and C) they are able to succeed in realising it. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to explore relationships between the capability items and two outcomes: work ability (overall single-item of the Work Ability Index (WAI)) and willingness to continue working (one item self-report in years).


The capability items showed good reliability (Cronbach’s alpha 0.7). The mean WAI score was 8.8 (SD 1.6) and mean years willing to continue working was 19.7 year (SD 14.0). Analyses showed that the items contributed to the WAI score (explained variance R2=0.115, P<0.001) and the years workers were willing to continue working (R2=0.018, p=0.003).


A new scale was developed to asses a workers’ capability set for sustainable employability. The added value of the CA is that it not only looks at what a worker can do or wants to do, but also incorporates the (work) context and whether they are able and enabled to do so. The items were associated to the WAI and willingness to continue work, measures used as proxy for sustainable employability. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Schedule Details

Tuesday September 30
12:45 - 13:45 Poster Viewing
Session: Work capacity / ability