Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19

A temperature reading of COVID-19 pandemic employee agility and resilience in South Africa

Cristy Leask, Shaun Ruggunan
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1853 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1853 | © 2021 Cristy Leask, Shaun Ruggunan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 November 2020 | Published: 27 July 2021

About the author(s)

Cristy Leask, Graduate School of Business, College of Law and Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Shaun Ruggunan, School of Management, IT and Governance, College of Law and Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Orientation: Employee agility and resilience are central to the flourishing of employee and organisational life. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic amplified stressors and added new challenges for employees in South Africa. The study reported here provides a temperature reading of the agility and resilience of South African employees in the context of the pandemic.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to engage in a temperature reading of South African employees’ agility and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motivation for the study: The study was motivated by the need to understand how South African employees fare in terms of their agility and resilience levels in the context of profound social and economic disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional survey design was used employing quantitative methodologies. A total of 185 permanently employed respondents from South Africa were conveniently sampled. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data.

Main findings: Whilst respondents reported high resilience and agility capacity, the findings also suggest that respondents’ gender, age, upskilling intentions, size of employer, organisational communication and individual renewal strategies influence their resilience and agility behaviours.

Practical/managerial implications: The study prompts a discussion on how practitioners can better serve the wellness agenda of organisational life during sustained periods of organisational stress.

Contribution/value-add: This study extends the theoretical and practical debate on employee agility and resilience in South African context.


employee agility and resilience; COVID-19; South Africa; impact of COVID-19 on employees; gender; COVID-19 impact on organisations


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Crossref Citations

1. Thankful employees: The manifestation of gratitude at work during a pandemic in South Africa
Lusanda Sekaja, Courtney A. Tully, Senzile Mahlangu, Katya de Freitas, Lihle N. Tyelbooi, Bonisiwe P. L. Mjojeli, Masase E. Mokhethi, Tshegofatso Mabitsela
Frontiers in Psychology  vol: 13  year: 2022  
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.941787