Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Industrial Organisational Psychologists in South Africa: Imagining new professional roles

Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Anthony K. Masha, Ntombekhaya Tshabalala
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1876 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1876 | © 2021 Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Anthony K. Masha, Ntombekhaya Tshabalala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 January 2021 | Published: 18 November 2021

About the author(s)

Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Anthony K. Masha, Department of Management, Walter Sisulu University, Queenstown, South Africa
Ntombekhaya Tshabalala, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa


Orientation: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the world of work. An understanding is needed of this impact and the positioning of roles of professional psychologists in response to adjusting to the new normal.

Research purpose: This study investigated the challenges faced by Industrial Organisational (IO) Psychologists in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the study aimed at ascertaining the professional roles that emanate from such challenges.

Motivation of the study: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, calls exist within the literature for nuanced disciplinary studies that explore the impact of the pandemic. One such discipline is that of Industrial Psychology (IP), a discipline deemed important not only for the development of individuals but also for organisations.

Research approach, design and method: A qualitative research approach utilising semi-structured interviews was conducted with 25 IO Psychologists. Thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the collected data using the suggestions by Braun and Clarke.

Main findings: Two main findings emerged from the study informed by the thematic analysis conducted. Firstly, the IO Psychologists expressed challenges of a direct nature affecting their practice and individual well-being. Secondly, the participating IO Psychologists suggested resultant professional roles that emerged from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included (1) prioritisation of personal physical and mental health, (2) more technological skills and acumen needed to adjust to the challenges posed by the pandemic, (3) promotion of continued professional learning and (4) the necessity for support networks amongst practitioners.

Practical/managerial implications: Implications are drawn for the practitioners and individuals working within the IO Psychology context. These extend at assisting the practitioners within the presented challenges.

Contribution/value-add: Through the findings, suggestions to inform IO Psychology as a practice are made. Furthermore, roles in assisting IO Psychologists to adjust to the new normal are suggested. The study becomes one of the first within these disciplines to charter suggestions for this important practice.


COVID-19; industrial organisational psychology; industrial organisational psychologists; individuals; organisations; roles


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Crossref Citations

1. The digital-era industrial/organisational psychologist: Employers’ view of key service roles, skills and attributes
Melinde Coetzee, Dieter Veldsman
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology  vol: 48  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/sajip.v48i0.1991