Accueil » 62-4 ( 2007) » Analyse des conduites de salariés en transition de fin de carrière : le cas de travailleurs et travailleuses en situation d’emploi atypique

Analyse des conduites de salariés en transition de fin de carrière : le cas de travailleurs et travailleuses en situation d’emploi atypique

Hélène Zimmermann, Geneviève Fournier et Christine Gauthier


Cet article propose une analyse des conduites d’investissement de travailleurs et travailleuses dans les différents domaines de leur existence. S’inspirant de l’approche du parcours de vie (life course), il s’appuie sur une enquête qualitative conduite au Québec auprès de 78 salariés âgés de 45 ans et plus, en situation d’emploi atypique depuis au moins trois ans. Les résultats mettent d’abord en évidence le large éventail des conduites observées. Ils montrent aussi la diversité des rapports à l’âge et à l’avenir professionnel des sujets. La prise en compte de ce regard subjectif porté par les travailleurs sur leur étape de vie et leur situation professionnelle s’avère éclairante pour interpréter la diversité des conduites d’investissement observées. Dans une perspective complémentaire, l’article examine dans quelle mesure ces différentes conduites sont statistiquement associées à quelques variables sociobiographiques et de situation professionnelle.


Analysis of Employee Behaviours in End-of-Career Transition

The Case of Workers in Non-Standard Employment

Over the last twenty years, we have witnessed an expansion in non-standard forms of employment and, as its corollary, more heterogeneous and more unstable career trajectories. Older workers, whose numbers in the workforce in Western countries have been growing, have been particularly affected by these changes. These workers have been affected by acute vulnerability in their lives both at work and outside work. Their end-of-career trajectories and the transitions associated with them have been less and less certain. This article examines the involvement behaviours of a group of older workers whose recent career trajectory has been based on non-standard jobs. More specifically, the article first describes the types of behaviour observed, then presents the relationship between age and the subjects’ future, and then examines whether the latter is associated with these types of behaviour. Lastly, in addition, it assesses whether these behaviours are also statistically linked with the socio-biographical characteristics of the individuals and their employment situation.

The approach adopted is based on the life course perspective which places emphasis on the study of occupational transitions, such as the end-of-career transition. From this perspective, the authors selected four principles guiding their study: the worker’s status as an actor, capable of making choices and formulating plans; a main focus on the subjectivity of the individuals, in particular their representations of their age and the stage of life they are in; the necessary interpretation of present experiences in terms of one’s previous life course and expectations for the future; and the interdependency of the various spheres of life. This approach proves to be particularly useful in the current context of evolving end-of-career trajectories, which can, based on this analytical framework, be interpreted as a triple trend towards disinstitutionalization, dechronologization and destandardization.

This study is based on a corpus of 78 semi-structured interviews conducted in Quebec with men and women aged 45 or older, who have been in non-standard employment for at least three years.

The content analysis brought out four types of involvement behaviours in different spheres of life, at the end-of-career stage: (1) shifting to a new stage of life, characterized by gradual disinvolvement from the work sphere with increased involvement in family life and leisure activities (29.5%); (2) reinforced and decisive involvement in the work sphere and the decision to relegate non-work projects to the background (17.9%); (3) choosing an equal distribution of commitments, both psychological and temporal, to both life at work and life outside work (19.2%); (4) starting a socio-occupational dropping out process, marked by psychological disinvolvement from the work sphere, without significant re-involvement in other spheres (33.3%). Each of these types of behaviour proved to be associated with experiences specific to the workers’ recent career trajectory.

In accordance with the life course approach, a second typology was developed to understand the workers’ subjective representation of their advancing age and the stage of life they are in, based on their past experiences and their plans for the future. Three distinct types emerged. Thus, some of these workers view their age as a strength which guarantees their labour market retention (26.9%); some see their age as a social limit holding back any new career plan and get into a position of waiting for retirement (35.9%); and some think of their age as a source of multiple vulnerabilities and discrimination, which undermines their future at work (37.2%).

The authors then bring out a statistical link between the relationship with age and the future and the observed types of involvement behaviour. Taking into account this subjective variable proves to be particularly revealing for interpreting the diversity of behaviours. Moreover, the examination of several socio-biographical variables or variables linked to the employment situation at the time of the survey (gender, age, education level, family situation, employment insecurity, financial satisfaction) reveals a number of statistically significant links which are, in general, consistent with the scientific literature.

In the discussion, the authors place emphasis on both the range of behaviours observed among older non-standard workers and the low frequency of the normative behaviour expected at the end-of-career stage, namely disinvolvement from work in favour of life outside work. Based on the life course perspective, this result is seen as an indicator of a destandardization of end-of-career trajectories which, however, might turn out to be a double-edge sword for workers. The diversity of behaviours observed also illustrates the relevance of considering simultaneously life at work and life outside work. As regards the workers’ subjective view of their advancing age and the stage of life they are in, attention is drawn to the phenomenon of early psychological disinvolvement from work, which can be interpreted as premature aging, the consequences of which are worrying at individual, organizational and societal levels. Lastly, as regards the link between types of involvement behaviour and the relationship with age and the future, it may be relevant to consider the workers’ subjective view of their employment situation, since the latter is moreover dependent on their perception of their career and biographical trajectories. The authors suggest that this association between types of behaviour and the relationship with age and the future can be interpreted as the linkage between individual biographical temporalities (past/present/future).


Análisis de las conductas de asalariados en situación de transición hacia el fin de carrera

El caso de los trabajadores y trabajadoras en situación de empleo atípico

Este articulo propone un análisis de conductas de implicación de trabajadores y trabajadoras en los diferentes campos de su existencia. Inspirándose del enfoque de trayectoria de vida (life course), el artículo se apoya en una encuesta cualitativa efectuada en Quebec con 78 asalariados de 45 años y mas, en situación de empleo atípico desde un mínimo de 3 anos. Los resultados ponen en evidencia, en primer lugar, la variedad de conductas observadas. Ellos muestran también la diversidad de actitudes frente a la edad y el porvenir profesional de los sujetos. Tomar en cuenta esta visión subjetiva manifestada por los trabajadores sobre su etapa de vida y su situación profesional resulta esclarecedor para interpretar la diversidad de conductas de implicación observadas. En una perspectiva complementaria, el articulo examina en qué medida estas diferentes conductas son estadísticamente asociadas a ciertas variables socio-biográficas y ocupacionales.