Original Research

Towards happiness: Experiences of work-role fit, meaningfulness and work engagement of industrial/organisational psychologists in South Africa

Llewellyn E. van Zyl, Elmari Deacon, Sebastiaan Rothmann
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 36, No 1 | a890 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v36i1.890 | © 2010 Llewellyn E. van Zyl, Elmari Deacon, Sebastiaan Rothmann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 January 2010 | Published: 04 October 2010

About the author(s)

Llewellyn E. van Zyl, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Elmari Deacon, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Sebastiaan Rothmann, North-West University - Vanderbijlpark Campus, Namibia


Orientation: The work of industrial/organisational (I/O) psychologists presents an interesting and relevant context for studying meaning and engagement as components of happiness.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to determine how I/O psychologists experience the meaning of their work and to investigate the relationships between their experiences of work-role fit, meaning of work, psychological meaningfulness and work engagement, utilising the happiness framework proposed by Seligman (2002).

Motivation for the study: I/O psychologists spend more than 88% of their working day with people, and they are primary role models for happiness in the workplace. Information about their work engagement and experiences of meaning is therefore needed.

Research design, approach and method: A survey design was used. A convenience sample (n = 106) was taken of I/O psychologists in South Africa. A biographical questionnaire, the Work-Role Fit Scale, the Work-Life Questionnaire, the Psychological Meaningfulness Scale, the Work Engagement Scale and a survey measuring the actual and desired time spent on six broad categories of work were administered.

Main findings: Work-role fit predicted psychological meaningfulness and work engagement. The calling orientation to work predicted both psychological meaningfulness and work engagement. Work-role fit mediated the relationship between the meaning of work and psychological meaningfulness. Work-role fit partially mediated the relationship between a calling orientation to work and work engagement.

Practical implications: A calling orientation to work should be fostered in I/O psychologists because it contributes to experiences of work-role fit, psychological meaningfulness and work engagement.

Contribution/value-add: The results of this study contribute to scientific knowledge about work-role fit, engagement and meaning as components of happiness of I/O psychologists.


engagement; happiness; industrial/organisational psychologists; meaning; work-role fit


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