About the Author(s)

Moroesi H. Mabazo symbol
Department of Business Support Studies, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Welkom, South Africa

Freda van der Walt Email symbol
Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Welkom, South Africa


Mabazo, M.H., & Van der Walt, F. (2024). Nurturing perseverance: The influence of workplace spirituality. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology/SA Tydskrif vir Bedryfsielkunde, 50(0), a2096. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v50i0.2096

Original Research

Nurturing perseverance: The influence of workplace spirituality

Moroesi H. Mabazo, Freda van der Walt

Received: 27 Mar. 2023; Accepted: 21 Mar. 2024; Published: 28 May 2024

Copyright: © 2024. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Orientation: The turbulent external environment has caused employees to resign at an alarming rate. Employers are also struggling with issues such as low productivity and low work engagement. In response to these challenges, it is necessary to consider what motivates employees to work hard consistently without giving up when faced with adversity and setbacks.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to establish whether workplace spirituality at an individual, work unit and organisational level enhances perseverance.

Motivation for the study: Contemporary employees are challenged personally and in the work context. Remaining motivated and invested in their work despite these challenges requires a higher form of inspiration, which suggests the importance of workplace spirituality.

Research approach/design and method: The research adopted both a deductive and an inductive research approach, and a descriptive cross-sectional research design was used. Data were collected utilising a survey strategy, and the final sample consisted of 385 respondents.

Main findings: The study’s findings show that individual spirituality influences perseverance. Individual spirituality fully mediates the influence of organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality on perseverance.

Practical/managerial implications: To ensure that employees work hard consistently despite challenges and hardships, workplace spirituality should be considered at the individual, work unit and organisational levels. Emphasis also needs to be placed on supporting the spiritual development and growth of spiritual employees, as individual spirituality seems to promote perseverance.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes to theory development and knowledge creation of workplace spirituality and perseverance constructs.

Keywords: perseverance; workplace spirituality; organisational spirituality; individual spirituality; work unit spirituality.


During the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it was reported that a record number of employees exited the workforce in what is now called the Great Resignation (Fuller & Kerr, 2022). This trend of employees exiting organisations was brought about by concerns such as poor mental health, family care demands, a lack of meaningful work and reflections on purpose, which hold implications for talent management (De Smet et al., 2022). The Great Resignation, together with South Africa’s deficient productivity levels compared to other countries (McMillan & Zeufack, 2022), requires a different approach to talent management. Organisations should consider not only talent attraction but also why some employees choose not to resign but continue to consistently work hard without giving up when faced with adversity and setbacks. The personal trait, or strength, of perseverance seems to be of interest when one considers consistent hard work despite setbacks and obstacles. Jordan et al. (2018) state that perseverance involves long-term stamina rather than short-term intensity. Datu (2021) asserts that perseverance refers to the heightened intensity of persistence after experiencing failures or when experiencing setbacks.

People were challenged not only on a personal level during and after the COVID-19 pandemic but also at work, and they had to navigate through this very disruptive and challenging time of crisis. Organisations that survived and prospered through this period of disruption required the sustainable performance of their employees. Unfortunately, very few employees have the drive, mindset, discipline and ability to sustain performance daily (Llopis, 2012). Because the personal quality of perseverance enables humans to navigate through challenging times, it is necessary to extend research in this area, as it may help organisations to remain competitive in a very uncertain and challenging environment. Unfortunately, the role of perseverance in achieving success is often overlooked (Juetten, 2020). Although it is acknowledged that perseverance cannot guarantee success, success can often not be attained without perseverance (Sansone & Smith, 2000). It is, therefore, necessary to consider how perseverance and sustainable performance can be promoted because sustainable performance is a crucial factor in determining the success of any organisation (Sinha & Dhall, 2020).

One way to create a favourable working environment that promotes employee effort and consistent hard work is to introduce workplace spirituality. Previous research indicates that the inclusion of spirituality in the workplace directly and positively impacts employee performance (Hassan et al., 2016; Garg, 2017; Ghayas et al., 2022) and wellbeing (Garg, 2017). This includes work engagement (Van der Walt, 2018), job satisfaction (Van der Walt & De Klerk, 2014) as well as reduced stress (Saxena et al., 2020) and burnout (Listopad et al., 2021). Notably, organisations that prioritise spirituality tend to have more productive employees over time (Mousa, 2020). Harris (2010, p. 1) states that ‘leaders and employees believe that to survive in this economic downturn, a higher form of inspiration is required.’ Naseer (n.d.) postulates that purpose-driven work must be created to keep employees invested and motivated. Purposeful work is regarded as a core component of workplace spirituality, which allows employees to satisfy their need for spiritual fulfilment (Singh & Chopra, 2018). Despite these findings, there is still a gap in research regarding the influence of workplace spirituality on perseverance. The argument offered in this article, which aligns with the theory of positive psychology (Seligman & Czikszentmihalyi, 2000), is that through the creation of spiritual workplaces, meaningful and purpose-driven work can be promoted, which, in turn, will encourage perseverance.

Investigating spirituality in the context of the workplace is gaining importance (Singh & Chopra, 2018). It has been asserted that workplace spirituality is growing in popularity among corporate citizens and academic researchers, and it is regarded as an acceptable topic for academic research (Rawat, 2016). This interest in workplace spirituality can be attributed mainly to empirical studies confirming its benefits for organisations (Houghton et al., 2016). Houghton et al. (2016) postulate that workplace spirituality leads to employees becoming more connected and loyal to the organisation. Singh and Chopra (2018) posit that workplace spirituality leads to positive organisational behaviour outcomes, including employees being passionate about their work and persistently facing challenges (i.e. persevering). Despite these findings and increased interest in workplace spirituality, there is a general absence of empirical studies focusing on workplace spirituality (Garg, 2017). The personal nature of spirituality, the newness of the topic of spirituality in the work context and the fact that the construct is defined differently by different scholars have contributed to this lack of research in this area (Krishnakumar & Neck, 2002). It is, therefore, necessary to extend current research in the fields of management, spirituality and religion to support theory development in this new field of study.

Research purpose and objectives

The purpose of this study was to establish whether workplace spirituality promotes perseverance. The rationale for the study was that the construct of perseverance has not been sufficiently investigated in the work context, and, as such, it is necessary to extend the current limited body of knowledge on perseverance in this context. Also, focusing on talent alone seems insufficient to attain organisational success in a complex and uncertain external environment. Therefore, it is suggested that additional qualities, such as perseverance, are needed.

The primary objective of the study was to establish whether workplace spirituality at the individual, work unit and organisational level influences perseverance. The secondary objective was to determine whether individual spirituality mediates the relationship between organisational spirituality, work unit spirituality and perseverance.

Hypothesis development

The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) theory suggests that employee wellbeing and performance are predicted by job resources, personal resources and job demands (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004; Tummers & Bakker, 2021). The theory postulates that job and personal resources lead to a motivational state, resulting in increased work engagement (Tummers & Bakker, 2021). It is proposed that the individual dimension of workplace spirituality is a personal resource that could promote a motivational state such as perseverance. In the study conducted by Moon et al. (2020), it is proposed that individual spirituality can serve as a valuable personal resource for effectively coping with high job demands while enhancing job performance. This underscores the potential role of individual spirituality in supporting employee efforts to manage work-related stressors and achieve optimal outcomes, such as perseverance. The first hypothesis is therefore:

H1: There is a positive relationship between individual spirituality and perseverance.

As suggested by the JD-R theory, creating a favourable working environment by fostering the organisational and work unit dimensions of workplace spirituality (i.e. the social and organisational aspects of the job) could promote employee effort and consistent hard work. Research has found that one’s social environment affects perseverance (Buechel et al., 2017) and that close relationships with peers allow individuals to share experiences that contribute to persistence and success (Strayhorn, 2017). Duchon and Plowman (2005) argue that one may detect several differences within a work unit which will impact either negatively or positively on the work unit; however, the work unit may exert a high degree of performance and greater performance outcomes if the inner life is well nourished by meaningful work. Thus, despite a lack of research focusing on work-unit spirituality, the work unit does seem to play an essential role in promoting perseverance. Therefore, the second hypothesis is:

H2: There is a positive relationship between work unit spirituality and perseverance.

The JD-R theory proposes that different working conditions could affect employee wellbeing and outcomes (Langseth-Eide, 2019). Creating working conditions where employees find meaning seems to be particularly important in supporting perseverance. According to Zohar and Marshal (2004), organisations that are aware of their spiritual role are compassionate companies that celebrate diversity and seek positive responses. This implies that by cultivating a spiritually-based organisation, supportive working conditions can be created to support performance and goal achievement. Thus, creating a spiritually-infused working environment is essential to support employees in persevering. Against this background, the third hypothesis is:

H3: There is a positive relationship between organisational spirituality and perseverance.

The interconnectedness between the different levels of workplace spirituality has previously been established. Jena (2022) postulates that there is a meaningful relationship between organisational spirituality and meaningful work, feeling connected and positive social relationships with co-workers (i.e. work-unit spirituality), and individual alignment with organisational values and job performance. Similarly, Van der Walt (2018) emphasises the importance of a positive work experience that can be stimulated through the creation of spiritual workplaces concerned with connectedness and compassion to promote need satisfaction and organisational success. Kolodinsky et al. (2008) suggest that spiritual organisations embrace a sense of community, suggesting an association between organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality. According to McClurg et al. (2023), experiencing work unit spirituality leads to higher productivity, a sense of connectedness, and more meaningful and purposeful work. From this discussion, it is evident that the spiritual individual needs to be supported by a spiritual organisation consisting of spiritual work units to promote perseverance. Therefore, the following hypothesis is stated:

H4: The relationship between work unit spirituality and organisational spirituality and perseverance is mediated by individual spirituality.

The ‘Literature review’ section will present a literature review of workplace spirituality and perseverance. This will be followed by an exposition of the findings of the study and a discussion thereof.

Literature review


There is consensus that perseverance is a personal strength that reflects one’s determination not to give up in the face of adversity and failure, to finish what one starts and to persist despite obstacles (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2016; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). The terms ‘perseverance’ and ‘persistence’ are often used interchangeably, but there seems to be a difference between these two constructs. While persistence is regarded as a voluntary continuation of goal-directed behaviour, perseverance is regarded as continuing or repeated action that is a default response (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

Although it is acknowledged that talent plays a critical role in organisational success, it seems more is required than mere talent. Duckworth (2016) asserts that employees need perseverance, passion and talent to succeed. Sansone and Smith (2000) also allude to the importance of perseverance in succeeding. Peterson and Seligman (2004) assert that individuals who persevere expect a positive outcome, and if the prospect of this outcome diminishes, it may become more difficult to persevere.

Workplace spirituality

Ashmos and Duchon (2000, p. 137) define workplace spirituality as ‘the recognition that employees have an inner life that nourishes and is nourished by meaningful work that takes place in the context of community.’ Pawar (2023) refers to workplace spirituality as employees’ experience of spirituality in the context of the workplace. These definitions show that spirituality may be experienced at the organisational, group and individual levels.

Workplace spirituality at an organisational level may be regarded as (Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003):

a framework of organisational values evidenced in a culture that promotes employees’ experience of transcendence through the process, by facilitating their sense of being connected to others in a way that provides feelings of completeness and joy. (p. 13)

According to Zohar and Marshall (2004), organisations that are aware of their spiritual role have a high sense of connectivity. They recognise their role in the community and humanity, know what they believe in and how to achieve it, are compassionate companies that celebrate diversity and seek positive responses, and take nothing for granted. This implies that a supportive environment can be created through spirituality that will support performance and goal achievement.

Workplace spirituality at the work unit level refers to mental, emotional and spiritual support between co-workers, which results in a deep connection between co-workers, including support and freedom of expression (Fanggidae, 2018). Duchon and Plowman (2005) assert that although several differences may exist within a work unit that exerts either a positive or a negative impact on the functioning of the work unit, the unit may exert a higher degree of performance and have greater performance outcomes if the inner life is well nourished by meaningful work.

At an individual level, spirituality may be regarded as a ‘personal belief which acts as a sieve through which a person perceives and experiences the world’ (Dutta & Singh, 2017, p. 50). Dutta and Singh (2017) explain that spirituality influences how a person lives and reacts to stressful situations and how well and quickly they recover from emotional strain. It gives the person a sense of significance to life and may or may not include belief in a higher (divine) power. Thus, workplace spirituality at an individual level is expected to exert the most substantial influence on perseverance.

Perseverance and spirituality

Meaning is a core or integral dimension of workplace spirituality (De Klerk, 2023; Van der Walt & De Klerk, 2014). Frankl (1984) asserts that to survive in the worst circumstances, one’s existence needs to have meaning. Human beings persevere for a good purpose and meaning, anticipating being fulfilled. Thus, those with survival skills discover meaning, enabling them to persevere (i.e. a willingness to continue the effort to rebuild one’s life and so remain involved in life’s work) (Stanford, 2001). De Klerk et al. (2006) assert that meaning in life originates from the spiritual surroundings of an individual. Individuals are perceived as more empowered to cope with and survive life’s stressors when they continue to evolve through their life experiences and discover sources of significance in them, such as spirituality (De Klerk, 2023; Langer, 2000). Frankl (1984) postulates that life is given to us to discover meaning, which might be a survival strategy; however, actual self-actualisation is challenging without a sense of purpose or spiritual direction in life. Thus, the argument is that spirituality promotes perseverance.

Research design

Research approach

To measure the relationship between workplace spirituality and perseverance, it was decided to approach the study from a positivist stance. The reason for this is that the researchers perceive reality as existing objectively, and, as such, it can be measured using a quantitative survey (Bell et al., 2021). The study was both deductive and inductive in nature. It was deductive because hypotheses were tested through deduction, and it was inductive because it was concerned with knowledge development, and, as such, inductive reasoning was used (Hair et al., 2016). The research design may be described as a descriptive design that is cross-sectional and explanatory in nature because data were collected from the sample at a single point in time (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). The study was quantitative in nature, so a survey strategy was used to collect data.

Research method
Research participants

The target population of the study was the economically active population of Matjhabeng Local Municipality. The sampling criteria used to draw the sample were working individuals between the ages of 16 and 65 with at least a Grade 12 qualification or equivalent. The latter criterion seemed necessary to assume that the sample understands the statements in the structured questionnaire and mindfully completes the questionnaire. It is estimated that Matjhabeng Local Municipality has a working population of approximately 277 180 people (Municipalities of South Africa, n.d.). Bartlett et al. (2001) recommend a sample size of 264 for a population of 10 000 or more. According to Hair et al. (2010), survey research requires at least 200 respondents, which is best suited for descriptive studies. The final sample for the study consisted of 385 individuals who met the sampling criteria stated above.

The final sample comprised 221 males (57.4%) and 164 females (42.6%). In terms of race, the majority of the sample were black African (n = 356; 92.5%), followed by mixed-race individuals (n = 14; 3.6%) and white respondents (n = 13; 3.4%). There were no Indian or Asian participants, and two respondents did not indicate their racial category. Six respondents did not indicate their age, and of those respondents who answered the question on age, 194 (50.4%) were 40 to 56 years old, followed by 132 respondents (34.3%) who were 21–39 years old, and 53 respondents (13.8%) who fell in the age group of 57 years and older. Two respondents (0.5%) did not indicate their age, and the mean age of the respondents was 44.64 years (standard deviation [SD] = 9.434). In terms of work experience, most of the respondents indicated that they had five or fewer years of work experience (n = 305; 79.2%), followed by respondents with six to 10 years of work experience (n = 78; 20.3%). None of the samples indicated more than 10 years of work experience.

Measuring instrument

Data were collected using a structured questionnaire. The final questionnaire consisted of three sections. Section A consisted of socio-demographic questions that were used to describe the sample. This section asked four questions about the participants’ gender, race, age and work experience. Section B consisted of a measure of workplace spirituality at the organisational, work unit and individual level, namely an abridged version of the Spirituality at Work (SAW) questionnaire, developed by Ashmos and Duchon (2000). Organisational spirituality was measured using 18 questions, as follows: conditions for community (six questions), meaning at work (six questions) and organisational values (six questions). An example question is, ‘I feel part of a community at work.’ Individual spirituality was measured using the following dimensions: inner life/self (five questions), meaning and purpose in living (six questions), spiritual values (10 questions) and belief in a higher being (five questions). An example question is, ‘I actively seek a sense of purpose in my life.’ Group/work unit spirituality was measured using the following dimensions: work unit community (eight questions) and work unit values (six questions). An example question is, ‘My immediate work unit cares about all its employees.’ In Section C, perseverance was measured. The perseverance dimension of the Short Grit Scale, developed by Duckworth and Quinn (2009), was used to measure perseverance. This section consisted of four questions, and an example is ‘I finish whatever I begin.’ Responses to the questions in Sections B and C were indicated on a seven-point Likert scale, with responses ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ (1) to ‘strongly agree’ (7).

Research procedure and ethical considerations

Before the final questionnaire was distributed, a pilot study was conducted. The pilot study consisted of 63 individuals from the sample who were not included in the final study. In the pilot study, content validity was considered by distributing the pilot questionnaire to experts in the field of human resource (HR) management so they could assess the questions posed in the questionnaire. This ensured that the scales measured what they should measure (Hair et al., 2016) and that the measuring instrument was appropriate for the sample (Bless & Higson-Smith, 2020). In the pilot study, initial reliability was also measured, utilising Cronbach’s alpha coefficients, which ranged from 0.71 to 0.95, deemed acceptable to very good initial reliability. Because of the acceptable initial reliability scores and positive feedback received from the HR specialists who confirmed the content validity of the measuring instrument, it was decided not to make any amendments to the instrument, and the final research questionnaire was confirmed.

The study was endorsed and approved by the Research and Innovation Committee of the Faculty of Management Sciences of Central University of Technology, Free State. The final questionnaires were printed, including a participant information sheet and placed in a sealed envelope. The participant information sheet consisted of general instructions to the participants, and it informed them about the aim of the study. The contact details of the researchers were included in the participant information sheet, and the participants were informed about various ethical requirements, such as confidentiality, anonymity and voluntary participation. The questionnaires were distributed personally by the researchers. Although the questionnaire was initially planned to be distributed electronically, it became evident during the pilot study that the sample might struggle with data and connectivity issues. As such, it was decided to distribute the questionnaires manually. The research participants were given sufficient time to complete the questionnaires, which the researchers personally collected after 2 weeks. The returned questionnaires are being kept safe by the researchers.

Statistical analysis

The researchers planned the data analysis, and an independent statistician conducted the statistical analysis. After receiving the returned questionnaires, the researchers captured the responses on an Excel spreadsheet, which the statistician used to execute the statistical analysis. A descriptive statistical analysis was first done to calculate the measures of central tendency. The hypotheses were then tested using the statistical software program SmartPLS version 3.2.7. SmartPLS is variance-based structural equation modelling software that explains total variance and uses it to estimate parameters (Hair et al., 2019). The use of PLS-SEM in this study was decided by the following two considerations: model complexity and data distribution issues. The model tested in this study comprises three second-order reflective–reflective factors (i.e. organisational spirituality, work unit spirituality and individual spirituality) and perseverance, which was measured as a unidimensional factor. Two second-order factors comprise three dimensions (i.e. organisational spirituality and individual spirituality) and the other second-order factor (i.e. work unit spirituality) was measured with two dimensions.

The PLS-SEM results are evaluated in two stages: firstly, the measurement model and secondly, the structural model (Hair et al., 2019). A reflective measurement model is comprised of an evaluation of outer loadings to confirm acceptable item reliability (Hair et al., 2019). Minimally, an outer loading should be statistically significant and above 0.708 (Hair et al., 2017). According to Hulland (1999), finding outer loadings less than 0.708 in a measurement model is common. Hair et al. (2017) are of the opinion that items with outer loadings not less than 0.4 can be retained in the measurement model as long as these items do not threaten the internal consistency reliability and convergent validity of the constructed measure. The internal consistency reliability of each construct’s items was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha and the composite reliability (CR) index. Ideally, reliability values should be 0.7 or higher. According to Hair et al. (2019), the true reliability of a scale lies between Cronbach’s alpha value and the CR value of the scale. The convergent validity of each construct measure was assessed by the average variance extracted (AVE) for each construct item. An acceptable AVE is 0.5 or higher. Discriminant validity was assessed to determine the extent to which each construct is empirically distinct from other constructs in the conceptual model. This study used the heterotrait–monotrait (HTMT) ratio of correlations to assess discriminant validity (Henseler et al., 2015).

Based on Hair et al. (2019), the following PLS-SEM results were used to assess the structural model. Variance inflation factors (VIFs) were first evaluated to assess the extent of collinearity bias in the regression results. The VIF should be close to 3.0 or lower. The R squared of each endogenous construct was then evaluated to report the model’s in-sample predictive power. R squared ranges from 0 to 1, where a higher value indicates greater explanatory power. The following guideline can be used to interpret the R squared values in a structural model: 0.75, 0.50 and 0.25 are considered substantial, moderate and weak in-sample predictive power, respectively. In this study, the bootstrap method was the BCa bootstrapping procedure, the bootstrap confidence interval was 95% and 5000 subsamples were used (Hair et al., 2017). The statistical significance of the path coefficients was evaluated at α = 0.05 (two-tailed).


Assessment of the measurement model

The outer loadings were inspected for item reliability. All outer loadings were statistically significant (two-tailed). The outer loading of five items was less than 0.708, the ideal. One item was excluded from the measurement model, as the outer loading was negative and the other four items were retained, as they did not contribute to unacceptable internal consistency reliability. They had an AVE less than the threshold of 0.7 and 0.5, respectively. Discriminant validity was then considered by inspecting HTMT ratios on the cross-loading matrix. The six items with the highest cross-loading were excluded.

The results of the modified measurement model are presented in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Measurement model results for the first-order factors (modified measurement model).

Table 1 shows the results of the modified measurement model for all the first-order factors. All outer loadings were statistically significant and above 0.4. Only two outer loadings had a loading less than the ideal of 0.708. The modified measurement model provided sufficient evidence of item reliability, internal consistency reliability and convergent reliability.

Table 2 presents the HTMT ratios of correlations for the first-order factors.

TABLE 2: Heterotrait–monotrait ratios of correlations for the first-order factors (modified measurement model).

The results in Table 2 confirm discriminant validity in the modified measurement model for the first-order factors.

Table 3 summarises the results of the evaluation of the measurement model for each second-order factor.

TABLE 3: Evaluation of the second-order factors (measurement model).

The results of the measurement model for the second-order factors provide adequate evidence of internal consistency reliability and convergent validity. The discriminant validity of the three second-order factors and perseverance (the dependent variable and a unidimensional construct) was also evaluated. Each HTMT ratio in Table 4 is less than 0.85, confirming the four factors’ discriminant validity.

TABLE 4: Heterotrait–monotrait ratios of correlations for the second-order factors and perseverance.
Measures of central tendency

The measures of central tendency that were measured were the mean, the median, the standard deviation, and the minimum and maximum scores.

According to the results presented in Table 5, the respondents reported slightly negative perceptions of all the variables, except for organisational values. Organisational values were the only variable that was positive, in that the mean was 23.58 and the median was 23.00.

TABLE 5: Measures of central tendency of the variables measured.
Evaluation of the structural model

The structural model results were first inspected for collinearity before the R-squared values, the path coefficients and the p-values were interpreted. The two VIFs were 2.085, which is below the recommended threshold of 3.0. Thus, collinearity did not threaten the results of the structural model.

The structural model results are depicted in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1: Structural model results.

From the findings presented in Figure 1, it is evident that individual spirituality explained 35.4% of the variance in perseverance. Thus, the in-sample predictive power of the model can be described as weak to moderate. The R squared of individual spirituality was 15.9%. Based on the guidelines included in the analysis plan, the in-sample predictive power of the model is weak for individual spirituality. Individual spirituality strongly influenced perseverance (β = 0.595; p = 0.000 [two-tailed]). Organisational spirituality was a stronger determinant of individual spirituality than work unit spirituality (β = 0.240; p = 0.002 [two-tailed] vs β = 0.194; p = 0.021 [two-tailed]).

The mediation results are presented in Table 6.

TABLE 6: Mediation results of the study.

The results in Table 6 show that individual spirituality explains the mechanism by which organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality influence perseverance. When individual spirituality is included as a mediator of the influence of organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality on perseverance, the direct effects of organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality on perseverance are not statistically significant. The indirect effects, however, are statistically significant. Therefore, individual spirituality fully mediates the influence of organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality on perseverance.


The aim of the study was to establish whether workplace spirituality at an individual, work unit and organisational level enhances perseverance. According to the findings of the study, individual workplace spirituality strongly influenced perseverance (β = 0.595; p = 0.000 [two-tailed]), explaining 59.5% of the variance in perseverance. Therefore, Hypothesis 1 is accepted. The established relationship implies that respondents who scored high on individual spirituality also reported a tendency to persevere. Frankl (1984) suggests that meaning in life, a core dimension of individual spirituality helps individuals to overcome difficult circumstances. He also notes that individuals are driven to persevere for a good cause, self-determination and fulfilling meaning. Langer (2004) adds that embracing meaningfulness and perseverance can turn unfavourable events into personal growth opportunities. Thus, spiritual individuals who find meaning and purpose in their work will likely persevere despite challenges. Moreover, spirituality may serve as a personal resource that motivates individuals to perform at their best and achieve goals despite challenges and obstacles in the work and external environment.

Both organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality did not significantly influence perseverance (β = 0.009; p = 0.884 [two-tailed] and β = 0.042; p = 0.456 [two-tailed], respectively). Thus, Hypotheses 2 and 3 are rejected. It was noted that when individual spirituality was included as a mediator, the influence of organisational spirituality and work unit spirituality changed to statistically significant. Hence, individual spirituality fully mediates the influence of work unit spirituality and organisational spirituality on perseverance. Therefore, Hypothesis 4 is accepted. These findings suggest that perseverance will be promoted when a spiritual individual works for an organisation that fosters a spiritual culture (through its spiritual values and creation of meaningful work) and the individual functions in spiritual work units. The findings are aligned with the JD-R theory, which emphasises the importance of personal resources to promote a motivational state (Tummers & Bakker, 2021), job performance and coping with high job demands (Moon et al., 2020). Furthermore, this finding is in line with the person–environment fit (P–E fit) theory, which encompasses person–group fit (P–G fit) and person–organisation fit (P–O fit) (Morley, 2007). Person–organisation fit theory is based on interactive psychology, which posits that an individual’s behaviour is a function of the interplay between the person and situational variables (Kristof-Brown & Billsberry, 2013). Thus, to predict whether a spiritual individual will persevere despite external challenges, it is argued that there should be alignment between the individual, work unit spirituality and organisational spirituality.

Practical implications

Although scholars have reported on the benefits of incorporating spirituality in the workplace, it is important to note that not all employees will accept and support this spiritual approach. However, those employees who value spirituality and make it a priority to develop and grow spiritually should be supported. Thus, employees should be encouraged to bring their souls to work, and they should be given the freedom to implement this orientation (Khasawneh, 2011). This can be done by creating a safe and inclusive working environment where employees feel safe and hold diverse spiritual perspectives. As was mentioned by Van der Walt and De Klerk (2014), organisational leaders play a pertinent role in supporting spirituality. Organisational leaders should demonstrate an honest commitment to promote workplace spirituality and lead by example.

The personal nature of spirituality is noted, and, as such, it is important to include spiritual employees when support and development initiatives are considered. Spiritual individuals may be on different spiritual paths, so exposing spiritual employees to development opportunities that are not tailored to their specific needs will be fruitless. However, personal practices such as reflexive learning and self-direction may encourage personal growth and spiritual development (Piryaei & Zare, 2013).

Introducing and supporting spirituality as an individual phenomenon may have limited impact and benefits. As such, a more proactive and encompassing approach is recommended, implying that spirituality should be implemented in the organisation to support spiritual individuals. However, this is not easy, and this transformational initiative should be well-planned. Should an organisation decide to incorporate spirituality in their culture, values and daily practices, recruiting spiritual employees aligned with this vision and organisational culture will be meaningful. Including spiritual transformation in an organisation’s strategic plan is essential to ensure proper planning and execution.

Creating a spiritual organisational culture and a favourable working environment for spiritual individuals, where they can find meaning and purpose, may help them to persevere when challenges arise. During such times, spiritual individuals may possibly develop a need to be connected with and supported by others. Through interconnectedness, a core dimension of workplace spirituality, spiritual individuals may be more willing to communicate openly about their challenges. Through empathy and reflection, adversity can be overcome. Spiritual employees may also be inclined to view challenges as opportunities for growth. As such, employees must be guided through such times in order to understand the meaning of their experiences. This process may be facilitated by a diversity of individuals, for example, spiritual masters, life coaches, psychologists, mentors and/or counsellors. The choice will depend on the preference of the spiritual individual, and therefore employee assistance programmes need to be carefully designed to accommodate the preferences of different individuals.

Limitations and recommendations

Although the study sample was adequate in size (n = 385), as recommended by Bartlett et al. (2001) and Hair et al. (2010), the convenience sampling method was used to select the research participants. However, selection criteria were determined, which guided the sample selection process. Even though care was taken to ensure a diverse sample, the findings of the study cannot be generalised to a broader population, and they need to be interpreted with caution. Although the study focused on theory development, it is recommended that future studies use the probability sampling method (Bell et al., 2021). The study was quantitative in nature because the purpose of the study was to establish whether workplace spirituality at the individual, work unit and organisational level enhances perseverance. Although the study yielded interesting findings, it will be valuable to investigate workplace spirituality’s role in advancing perseverance using a qualitative approach. Through such an approach, a more in-depth understanding will be formed from employees’ lived experiences.


The purpose of this study was to establish whether workplace spirituality promotes perseverance. The findings show that workplace spirituality is an important consideration to promote perseverance. When viewing workplace spirituality at an individual, work unit and organisational level, the findings show that individual spirituality plays the most prominent role in promoting perseverance. This implies that organisations need to consider ways of supporting the spiritual growth and development of spiritual employees, as this may help them to work in a goal-directed manner despite challenges and obstacles. The findings also indicate that factors other than competence and talent should be considered when appointing and developing individuals. This seems essential if one considers that contemporary employees are not just concerned with financial concerns but also with finding meaning and purpose in the work context. Despite the fact that various scholars have emphasised the importance of workplace spirituality, this construct and perseverance have not received sufficient attention in the work context, and it is, therefore, vital that research focusing on these constructs continues. Should organisations not pay attention to the intrinsic needs of contemporary workers and continue to implement generic development initiatives, they may lose talented employees who could have contributed significantly to organisational success.


The authors would like to acknowledge Prof. Jacques Nel, for conducting the statistical data analysis of the study, Mr Anthony Sparg, for language-editing the article and the National Research Foundation, for their financial assistance.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

F.v.d.W. and M.H.M. contributed equally to this research article.

Ethical considerations

Ethical clearance to conduct this study was obtained from the Faculty Research and Innovation Committee, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology on 27 March 2023. The ethical clearance number is FMSEC211119.

Funding information

The study received funding from the National Research Foundation.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author, F.v.d.W., upon reasonable request.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and are the product of professional research. It does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated institution, funder, agency, or that of the publisher. The authors are responsible for this article’s results, findings, and content.


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