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SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
ISSN: (Online) 2071-0763, (Print) 0258-5200
Page 1 of 11 Original Research
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Marita M. Heyns1
1Optena Research Enty,
Faculty of Humanies,
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
2Department of Labour
Faculty of Economic
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Received: 15 July 2021
Accepted: 06 Dec. 2021
Published: 11 Mar. 2022
How to cite this arcle:
Hennicks, E., Heyns, M.M., &
Rothmann, S.E. (2022). Social
well-being, job sasfacon,
behaviour and intenons to
leave in a ulity organisaon.
SA Journal of Industrial
48(0), a1928. hps://doi.
© 2022. The Authors.
Licensee: AOSIS. This work
is licensed under the
Workplace well-being is increasingly becoming critical for both individuals and organisations
(Abe, Fields, & Abe, 2016; Moller & Rothmann, 2019). According to the International Labour
Organization, the concept of workplace well-being refers to a wide range of aspects of working
life, including the quality and safety of the working environment, how employees view their
workplaces, the climate at work and how they are organised (ILO, 2017). Workplace well-being is
essential because it has an impact on individual and organisational outcomes (Kowalski, Loretto,
& Redman, 2017; Litchﬁeld, Cooper, Hancock, & Watt, 2016). Notably, a range of variables referred
to in the deﬁnition of workplace well-being include social elements of work, and the organisation
in which employees are embedded affects their well-being, satisfaction, performance and retention
(Keyes, 1998; Redelinghuys, Rothmann, & Botha, 2019).
Social well-being is an essential aspect of well-being according to different models such as the
mental health continuum (MHC; Keyes, 2002), the ﬂourishing at work model (Rothmann, Van
Zyl, & Rautenbach, 2019), the thriving model (Clifton & Harter, 2021) and the secure ﬂourishing
model (VanderWeele, 2017). Social well-being can also be linked to the self-determination theory
Orientation: Employee social well-being is likely to inﬂuence individual and organisational
outcomes, especially in African countries where a high premium is often placed on one’s
personhood being rooted in one’s relations with others.
Research purpose: This study investigated the associations between social well-being, job
satisfaction, organisational citizenship behaviour and intentions to leave in a South African
Motivation for the study: Given the history of relationships amongst diverse people in South
Africa, social well-being seems to be a critical component of the overall well-being of
employees. However, few studies in South Africa have focused on social well-being in
Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional survey design was used, targeting
permanent employees in a South African utility organisation. Consenting participants
(N = 403) completed previously validated measures of social well-being, job satisfaction,
organisational citizenship behaviour and intentions to leave. Structural equation modelling
was performed to test hypotheses.
Main ﬁndings: Social well-being was positively associated with job satisfaction and
organisational citizenship behaviour and negatively associated with intentions to leave.
Social well-being indirectly affected organisational citizenship behaviour and intention to
leave through job (dis)satisfaction.
Practical/managerial implications: Managers and human resources practitioners are
alerted to practical ways of sustaining employees’ social well-being such as by implementing
tailor-made policies that support social aspects of well-being and by ensuring the alignment
of well-being programmes with changing circumstances in the modern world of work.
Originality/value-add: This study illuminated social well-being associations with selected
outcomes in a developing African country workplace context.
Keywords: social well-being; job satisfaction; organisational citizenship behaviour; intentions
to leave; utility organisation.
Social well-being, job sasfacon, organisaonal
cizenship behaviour and intenons to
leave in a ulity organisaon
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(Deci & Ryan, 2011), with its conceptualisation of relatedness
as a psychological need of people. Relatedness refers to
individuals’ need to be loved and cared for by others and to
feel connected with others. It is satisﬁed when individuals
develop close relationships with others and feel a sense of
communion with them (Deci & Ryan, 2011). The best
relationships are those in which true relatedness and
mutuality are experienced.
However, only a few studies (e.g. Moller & Rothmann, 2019;
Redelinghuys et al., 2019) have been carried out using a
multidimensional model of social well-being in South African
work contexts. Using the MHC (Keyes, 2005) to measure
emotional, psychological and social well-being, Moller and
Rothmann (2019) showed that a large sample of managers
scored the lowest on social well-being in four different latent
well-being proﬁles. More speciﬁcally, they found that social
actualisation (i.e. the feeling that the world is becoming a
better place to function in) and social coherence (grasping
how societies work) were relatively low compared with other
elements of well-being. Moreover, research on personality
functioning (Nel et al., 2011) suggested that the social-
relational aspects of personality were strongly present in 11
language groups in South Africa.
A number of Southern African studies have focused on social
aspects of work-related well-being. For example, Janik and
Rothmann (2015) investigated the effects of co-worker and
manager relations in organisations. Redelinghuys et al. (2019)
investigated the validity of a measure of workplace
ﬂourishing (which included social well-being). However, the
latter study focused on the three components of well-being
rather than exclusively on social well-being. Moreover,
outcomes of interest were either different or not combined in
the same context as proposed in this study (i.e. a utility
organisation in South Africa). Therefore, more research is
needed to understand social well-being in work and
organisational settings in South Africa (Keyes, 1998;
Individuals’ social well-being relies on positive interpersonal
connections to accomplish individual and organisational
work goals (Rosales, 2016). Different models of employer–
employee relationships conﬁrm that positive social
environments in the workplace are beneﬁcial to sustain
employee well-being (Daniels, Watson, & Gedikli, 2017;
Keyes, 1998; Rosales, 2016). Research by Deci and Ryan (2011)
revealed that social context (e.g. feedback, communication
and rewards) inﬂuenced the satisfaction of individuals’
psychological needs (including relatedness). Therefore, the
social context will affect employees’ social well-being. For
this reason, social well-being will likely inﬂuence individual
and organisational outcomes. It is, thus, of particular interest
to human resource practitioners and work and organisational
psychologists to develop a deeper understanding of the
linkages between social well-being and individual and
organisational outcomes, mainly because these linkages are
under-researched in developing country contexts and,
speciﬁcally, in the utility industry (Daniels et al., 2017).
The utility industry is instrumental in the development and
maintenance of the South African economy. However, the
utility in the study, which supplies 95% of electricity to South
Africa, is plagued with skills loss and has encountered
daunting challenges, especially since 2005, evident in
electricity supply shortages, frequent load-shedding, ﬁnancial
instability (including allegations of state capture), structural
problems, poor operational performance, a deteriorating
reputation and the loss of many valuable employees with
critical skills (Govender, 2017; Ratshomo & Nembahe, 2019).
The well-being and morale of employees are affected by the
environment in which they ﬁnd themselves. Masilela (2018)
found that social well-being and stress in the utility could be
linked to social relationships in the entity. Stress and low
morale of employees affected their job satisfaction,
organisational citizenship behaviour and retention (Masilela,
2018). Estimations of employee turnover showed that the
utility remained at risk of losing valuable human resources (I.
Venter, personal communication, April 7, 2019). The utility
industry had lost 2110 employees since 2019 (R. Mey, personal
communication, September 21, 2021). These statistics make it
evident that the utility organisation should investigate
employees’ social well-being and the association thereof with
job satisfaction, organisational citizenship behaviour and
intention to leave (Keim, Landis, Pierce, & Earnest, 2014).
Organisations cannot afford to ignore the importance of
social well-being and more research on this aspect is needed
(Boreham, Povey, & Tomaszewski, 2016; Daniels et al., 2017;
De Simone, 2014; Gandy, Harrison, & Gold, 2018). For
instance, De Simone (2014) highlighted the need to study
social well-being and its spillover effects on critical outcomes
such as job satisfaction, organisational citizenship behaviour
and intention to leave. Negative social experiences affect
individuals’ emotions and functioning, such as satisfaction
with work conditions, decision-making quality and
inclinations to withdraw. However, social experiences also
affect relations with colleagues and management, affecting
individual and organisational performance. Moreover, the
ﬁve-factor model of social well-being (Keyes, 1998; Rothmann
et al., 2019) has not been well-researched in organisations –
particularly in non-Western cultural contexts. Given that
social embeddedness is considered vital to an African socio-
cultural orientation, even more so than individual
personhood (Khumalo, Ejoke, Oppong Asante, & Rugira,
2021), the lack of research on social well-being is surprising.
Organisations’ neglect of social well-being signals ignorance,
affecting employees’ job satisfaction and performance and
retaining valued human resources (Gandy et al., 2018).
Social well-being forms an integral part of one’s health and
concerns the degree to which individuals function well in
their social lives, including work relationships and the ability
to function well alongside colleagues (Keyes, 1998).
According to Keyes (1998), social well-being encompasses
ﬁve theoretically substantiated dimensions. In a workplace
context, these can be translated to mean the following:
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Social acceptance (the acceptance of the diversity of colleagues),
actualisation (the belief in one’s organisation, team and
colleagues’ potential), coherence (the belief that one’s
organisation and social relations at work are both meaningful
and comprehensible), contribution (the belief that one’s daily
work tasks add value to one’s team, department, and
organisation) and integration (the belief that one experiences a
sense of communal connectedness and belongingness).
(Redelinghuys et al., 2019, p. 2)
Previous research by Janik and Rothmann (2015) indicated
that the acceptance of employees by their supervisors and
co-workers had a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on their work lives
(Janik & Rothmann, 2015). On the one hand, where positive
feelings and close social ties exist between colleagues, a sense
of belonging and high levels of relatedness are promoted.
Those employees are more likely to remain with the
organisation and are willing to go the extra mile to support
and help their colleagues because of the social well-being
experienced (Rothmann et al., 2019). On the other hand,
when employees think that their work conditions are unfair,
compensation for work is inadequate or they lack training or
developmental and career advancement opportunities, their
growth is stiﬂed and as a result they will regress and languish
Job sasfacon, organisaonal cizenship
behaviour and intenons to leave
Job satisfaction refers to the degree to which individuals feel
positive or negative towards the aspects of their jobs (Alegre,
Mas-Machuca, & Berbegal-Mirabent, 2016; Cek & Eyupoglu,
2020). The work environment and relationships with co-
workers affect job satisfaction and the incapacity to maintain
social relations is often associated with low job satisfaction
(Moller & Rothmann, 2019). When employees perceive work
as meaningful and their work conditions (such as their terms
of remuneration and equal access to beneﬁts) and treatment
by their superiors as fair, they are more likely to feel
connected to others and experience higher levels of job
satisfaction (Redelinghuys et al., 2019). Work relationships
with supervisors and colleagues and identiﬁcation with the
objectives and goals of the organisation are considered main
aspects that can inﬂuence job satisfaction (Alegre et al., 2016).
Social exchange theory (Blau, 1964, as cited in Cek &
Eyupoglu, 2020) supports the notion that employees who are
satisﬁed with their jobs may feel inclined to reciprocate by
demonstrating positive attitudes and behaviours towards
others, which enhances co-operation and performance. The
opposite may also be true: whereas a supportive work
environment stimulates generosity within employees that
propels businesses into prosperity, an unsatisfactory and
unsupportive work environment may cause employees to
feel psychologically unsafe, to experience less job satisfaction,
and to become withdrawn, so that they are less likely to be
psychologically available to others or to extend themselves
beyond what is legally required (Cek & Eyupoglu, 2020;
Janik & Rothmann, 2015).
Organisaonal cizenship behaviour
Organisational citizenship behaviour is a term used to
describe constructive employee behaviours and actions that
are not mandatory, but discretionary, behaviours performed
voluntarily to support and beneﬁt the organisation and
employees (Cek & Eyupoglu, 2020; Thiruvenkadam &
Yabesh, 2017). According to Smith, Organ and Near (1983),
organisational citizenship behaviour can be deﬁned as a type
of contextual performance. It refers to actions taken to help
others in the organisation or demonstrate conscientious
behaviour. Research has shown two types of organisational
citizenship behaviour (Organ, 1988): (1) altruism or helping
others and (2) generalised compliance or following the rules
and procedures of the organisation. Organisational
citizenship behaviour enhances effectiveness, efﬁciency,
adaptability to changing circumstances and organisational
competitiveness (Cek & Eyupoglu, 2020). Help-oriented
behaviours also increase commitment and prompt intentions
of employees to stay with the organisation (Thiruvenkadam &
When employing a multidimensional measure of well-being,
Redelinghuys et al. (2019) found well-being to be signiﬁcantly
related to organisational citizenship behaviour. Mukherjee
(2020) also demonstrated that subjectively experienced well-
being was signiﬁcantly related to citizenship behaviours
when directed at the organisation, whereas workplace well-
being was positively associated with citizenship behaviours
directed towards teammates and the organisation as an entity.
Intenon to leave
Intention to leave signals the attitudinal readiness to
withdraw in favour of seeking alternative employment and
is the best indicator of actual future turnover (Janse van
Rensburg, Rothmann, & Diedericks, 2017). When employees
experience insufﬁcient well-being, their performance will
plummet and they are likely to quit their jobs (Redelinghuys
et al., 2019). Harmonious relationships with supervisors and
co-workers serve as a buffer against intention to leave,
whereas meaningless work roles and unsupportive
colleagues will increase employees’ intention to leave (Janik
& Rothmann, 2015; Janse van Rensburg et al., 2017).
Social well-being and individual and
Govender (2017) cites several sources (e.g. Shmailan, 2016;
Yadav & Aspal, 2014) that empirically conﬁrmed that job
satisfaction is directly and statistically signiﬁcantly related to
individual productivity and employee retention. According
to Masilela (2018), low job satisfaction reduces organisational
citizenship behaviour, weakens social ties and leads to
turnover. Studies (Crede, Chernyshenko, Stark, Dalal, &
Bashshur, 2007; Murphy, Athanasou, & King, 2002; Zito
et al., 2018) found associations between job satisfaction,
organisational citizenship behaviour and intention to leave.
Therefore, it is critical to investigate which factors elevate job
satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour, as
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failure to do so translates into more intentions to leave (Keim
et al., 2014). De Neve, Krekel and Ward (2018) showed that
social relationships had a signiﬁcant and sizeable effect on
job satisfaction. From 12 domains of workplace quality, social
relationships explained the largest part of the variation in job
satisfaction. Cek and Eyupoglu (2020) concluded that talent
retention, job satisfaction and willingness to demonstrate
citizenship behaviour should be of primary concern to
organisations because of the effects on productivity and
competitiveness. Therefore, a more in-depth understanding
of inter relationships amongst these variables is needed.
Positive relations with supervisors and social well-being of
employees promote a sense of psychological safety, social
connectivity and higher levels of relatedness and belonging,
which spill over into higher levels of job satisfaction,
willingness to engage in organisational citizenship behaviour
and remain in the job (Janik & Rothmann, 2015; Redelinghuys
et al., 2019).
Based on the description of the research problem and the
review of previous studies, the following hypotheses were
Hypothesis 1 (H1): Social well-being is positively associated with
Hypothesis 2 (H2): Social well-being is positively associated with
organisational citizenship behaviour.
Hypothesis 3 (H3): Social well-being is inversely related to
intention to leave.
Hypothesis 4 (H4): Job satisfaction mediates the relationship
between social well-being and organisational citizenship behaviour.
Hypothesis 5 (H5): Job satisfaction mediates the relationship
between social well-being and intention to leave.
The uniqueness of this study is threefold: ﬁrstly, it was the
ﬁrst study to focus on the social well-being of a utility
organisation in a developing country. Secondly, ﬁndings
from this study can promote positive social change, as in-
depth knowledge of social well-being and how it relates to
important work outcomes will help eradicate harmful effects
such as high intentions to leave, which contribute to
organisational inefﬁciency, proﬁt losses and substandard
A quantitative cross-sectional survey design was used in this
study. This design was considered suitable because there was
limited empirical evidence to support the nature of potential
relationships between the variables of interest, which
necessitated an initial exploration of such possibilities
Parcipants and seng
The participants included employees representing a cut
across various designations and levels (senior management,
middle management, junior management and all skilled
employees) who were permanently employed in the
electricity industry of South Africa. A total of 403 eligible
employees in the organisation, scattered throughout all 9
provinces of South Africa, responded by completing the
questionnaire in full. The most common age distribution
ranked between 31 and 40 years; this meant that almost one
quarter (38.7%) of the workforce were at the halfway mark of
their professional lives. All employees who participated in
the study had a minimum qualiﬁcation level of Grade 12;
more than half (51.6%) of the sample group had obtained a
postgraduate qualiﬁcation as their highest level of education
and occupied various ranks (low, middle and senior) in the
organisation. Employees were seen to have had approximately
a minimum of 11 years of service in the organisation.
A biographical questionnaire was developed by the researcher
and was aimed at measuring demographics.
The Social Well-being Scale of Keyes (1998), as validated for a
South African workplace context by Redelinghuys (2016),
was used to assess social well-being in terms of ﬁve
subdimensions: social integration (e.g. ‘during the past
month, how often did you feel that people in your
organisation are basically good?’); social acceptance (e.g.
‘during the past month at work, how often did you feel that
you really belong to your organisation?’); social contribution
(e.g. ‘during the past month, how often did you feel that you
had something important to contribute towards your
organisation?’); social growth or actualisation (e.g. ‘during
the past month at work, how often did you feel that your
organisation is becoming a better place for people like you?’)
and social comprehension or coherence (e.g., ‘during the past
month, how often did you feel that the way your organisation
works, makes sense to you?’). The items were scored on a six-
point scale, ranging from 1 (never) to 6 (every day). Respondents
had to answer questions regarding the frequency with which
they had experienced speciﬁc symptoms of social well-being
during the past month. This response option allowed for the
categorisation of levels of well-being, similar to the three
classes used to assess positive mental health (Keyes, 2002).
Individuals who were neither ﬂourishing nor languishing
fell into the category of moderate well-being. In a South
African study, the reliability coefﬁcient of this scale was 0.89
(Rautenbach & Rothmann, 2017).
The Job Satisfaction Scale (JSS) (Saks, 2006) was used to
measure job satisfaction. Five items assessed individuals’
satisfaction with their jobs (e.g., ‘most days I am enthusiastic
about my work’ and ‘I consider my job rather unpleasant’).
Response options ranged from 1 (totally disagree) to 5 (totally
agree). The Cronbach’s alpha coefﬁcient for the JSS was found
to be 0.84 (Diedericks, 2012).
Organisational citizenship behaviour was measured using an
adapted version of the Organisational Citizenship Behaviour
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Questionnaire (OCBQ; Konovsky & Organ, 1996). There were
six items in the questionnaire that were rated on a seven-
point scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly
agree). Factor analysis conﬁrmed that the OCBQ consisted of
two factors, namely altruism (e.g. ‘I assist others with their
duties’) and generalised compliance (e.g. ‘I defend the
organisation when other employees criticise it’). Redelinghuys
et al. (2019) reported that the internal consistency of the
scale was acceptable.
The Turnover Intention Scale (TIS; Sjöberg & Sverke, 2000),
used to measure intention to leave, comprised three
items (e.g. ‘I am actively looking for other jobs’), with
response options ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5
(strongly agree). A previous South African study recorded a
reliability coefﬁcient of 0.71 for this scale (Janse van
Rensburg et al., 2017).
The researcher obtained permission from the highest level
of authority in the organisation to conduct the study in the
utility industry. Scientiﬁc and ethics clearance was secured
from a reputable institution of higher education to conduct
the study and all ethical standards as prescribed by
relevant legislation were always observed during the
implementation phase. The questionnaire was presented
in the form of an electronic booklet explaining the purpose
of the study, emphasising conﬁdentiality and stipulating
processes to follow in case further clarity was needed.
Candidates were also made aware that participation was
voluntary and that they were at liberty to withdraw at any
stage of the research procedure. An independent service
provider collated the data collection process. Once consent
forms had been completed, access to the online survey was
provided. The survey was constructed in such a manner
that all items on any given page had to be completed
before the participant could proceed to the next question.
This removed all risk of the occurrence of missing values.
A time frame of 2 weeks was allocated for completion of
the online survey. The researcher obtained access to results
by means of an anonymised format to analyse data
Descriptive statistics were computed to describe the data
and the sample characteristics. Point estimates of scale
reliability were computed using conﬁrmatory factor
analysis (CFA) (see Raykov, 2009; Wang & Wang, 2020). A
cut-off value for scale reliability of 0.70 (Nunnally &
Bernstein, 1994) was used.
The measurement and structural models in this study were
tested by using latent variable modelling with Mplus 8.6
(Muthén & Muthén, 1998–2021). All variables were
considered as continuous and a robust maximum likelihood
method (MLM) was used as an estimator. The following
indices were utilised to assess model ﬁt: the chi-square
statistic (the test of absolute model ﬁt), standardised root
mean square residual (SRMR), root mean square error of
approximation (RMSEA), Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) and
comparative ﬁt index (CFI) (West, Taylor, & Wu, 2012).
Tucker-Lewis index and CFI values higher than 0.90 are
acceptable although values above 0.95 are preferred; RMSEA
and SRMR values lower than 0.08 indicate a close ﬁt between
model and data (Wang & Wang, 2020). The Akaike
Information Criterion (AIC) and Bayesian Information
Criterion (BIC) were used in addition to other ﬁt indices to
assess the ﬁt of competing models. The AIC is meaningful
when estimating different models, with the lowest AIC
indicating the best-ﬁtting model. The BIC indicates model
parsimony (Kline, 2010). Simple mediation analysis was
performed using Mplus 8.6 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998–2021).
Based on the results from Harman’s single-factor test, the ﬁt
statistics of loading the model onto one factor were as follows:
χ2 = 1756.65, df = 464, CFI = 0.66, TLI = 0.63, SRMR = 0.11 and
RMSEA = 0.11. The ﬁt statistics showed that the model did
not ﬁt, which indicated that common method variance
(CMV) was not a problem (Tehseen, Ramayah, & Sajilan,
2017). If there had been model ﬁt to the one factor, CMV
could have posed a problem for the study.
Tesng the measurement model
Four competing measurement models were tested by using
CFA with Mplus 8.6. Model 1 was constructed as theory
proposes: Social well-being was constructed as a second-
order latent factor consisting of ﬁve ﬁrst-order latent
variables, namely social integration, social actualisation,
social coherence, social acceptance and social integration.
Each of these ﬁve subdimensions was measured by three
items. Five directly observed indicators measured job
satisfaction. Six directly observed indicators were used to
measure organisational citizenship behaviour in terms of two
subdimensions, namely altruism (three items) and
generalised compliance (three items), with organisational
citizenship behaviour being a second-order latent variable.
Results for the ﬁrst model indicated that a perfect ﬁt was not
attainable (χ2 = 740.209, p < 0.05). However, because of severe
dependence of the chi-square test of model ﬁt on sample size,
this test is not problem-free and the literature recommends
that it be considered in combination with additional ﬁt
indicators to obtain a more precise picture (Saris, Satorra, &
Van der Veld, 2009). When doing so, it was clear that the
RMSEA (0.05, p > 0.05), the SRMR (0.07) and the CFI (0.93)
and TLI (0.93) values pointed to an acceptable approximate
ﬁt of the model to the observed data. From an inspection of
the standardised factor loadings of the items, it was,
nevertheless, evident that the third item of the JSS (‘each day
of work seems like it will never end’) did not load signiﬁcantly
onto its underlying factor (p = 0.922). It is possible that the
participants found the item too confusing. Consequently, this
item was removed, and a revised model was tested.
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All components of the revised model were speciﬁed as in
Model 1, except for job satisfaction, Job satisfaction was only
measured by four items because of the omission of the third
item. Although the chi-square test value for Model 2 was still
signiﬁcant, all indicators of the revised model pointed to a
more precise representation of the observed data, namely
CFI = 0.94, TLI = 0.93, SRMR = 0.07 and RMSEA = 0.05,
p > 0.51, with all the items also loading signiﬁcantly onto
their respective constructs (p = 0.000).
Model 3 was constructed like Model 2, except for
organisational citizenship behaviour, which was now
measured as a ﬁrst-order latent variable measured by six
directly observed variables. Model 3 (χ2 = 758.71, df = 339;
p < 0.001; CFI = 0.92; TLI = 0.92; RMSEA = 0.06, p = 0.055
[0.05, 0.06]; SRMR = 0.06) offered an acceptable, yet poorer, ﬁt
compared with Model 2.
A ﬁnal competing measurement model was also tested (Model
4), where all constructs were measured as ﬁrst-order latent
variables only. This model rendered a notably poor ﬁt to the
data in several respects: CFI = 0.83, TLI = 0.82, SRMR = 0.08
and RMSEA = 0.081 [CI 0.08, 0.09], p < 0.01. Table 1 presents the
ﬁt statistics for the competing measurement models.
Comparison of the ﬁt indices indicated that Model 2 ﬁtted the
data best relative to the competing models. The χ2 value of the
model was also signiﬁcant (p = 0.00) – similar to those of the
alternative models – and, thus, indicative of an imperfect ﬁt.
However, the overall ﬁt when all indices were considered
indicated that this model met the requirements for an
approximate ﬁt. It provided a superior ﬁt to the data compared
with that of the alternative competing models. Furthermore,
both the AIC (35698.46) and BIC (36086.35) values conﬁrmed
Model 2 to be the superior model. The standardised regression
coefﬁcients of this model were all statistically signiﬁcant (p <
0.01), and all items were loaded on their respective constructs
as expected, with values ranging from –0.44 to 0.94. The
standard errors for each of the standardised estimates were
also small and suggested accuracy in estimating these values.
Table 2 displays the descriptive statistics, reliabilities and
correlations of the scales.
All correlations, except for the relationship between intention
to leave and organisational citizenship behaviour, were
statistically signiﬁcant: p < 0.01. As expected, social well-
being was positively associated with job satisfaction and
organisational citizenship behaviour, but inversely related to
turnover intent. Correlations of large effect were found
between subscales social well-being and job satisfaction and
between job satisfaction and intention to leave. Correlations
of medium effect were found for the association between
social well-being and intention to leave, social well-being
and organisational citizenship behaviour and organisational
citizenship behaviour and job satisfaction.
As a result of the signiﬁcant correlations amongst several
variables, including those of social well-being with job
satisfaction, organisational citizenship behaviour and
intention to leave, hierarchical regression analyses were
performed to investigate the possibility that social well-being
might have a signiﬁcant directional association with the
dependent variables (job satisfaction, organisational
citizenship behaviour and intention to leave).
Tesng the structural model
The structural model was tested based on the preferred
measurement model (Model 2), and the structural regressions
were added to the model in line with what was to be expected
based on the literature. The results also showed an
acceptable ﬁt to the data (TLI = 0.93; CFI = 0.94; RMSEA = 0.05;
SRMR = 0.07).
Table 3 displays the standardised regression coefﬁcients for
the structural model and illustrates that all the regression
relationships were signiﬁcant at a level of p-values < 0.01.
As is evident from Table 3, the portion of the model focusing
on the association between social well-being and job
TABLE 1: Fit stascs for the compeng measurement models.
Model χ2df TLI CFI RMSEA SRMR AIC BIC
1 740.21*364 0.93 0.93 0.05 0.07 37025.47 37425.36
2 675.11*337 0.93 0.94 0.05 0.07 35698.46 36086.35
3 758.71*339 0.92 0.92 0.06 0.07 35796.93 36176.83
4 1264.27*344 0.82 0.83 0.08 0.08 36400.47 36474.79
χ2, chi-square stasc; df, degrees of freedom; TLI, Tucker-Lewis index; CFI, comparave t index; RMSEA, root mean square error of approximaon; SRMR, standardised root mean square residual;
AIC, Akaike informaon criterion; BIC, Bayesian informaon criterion.
*, p < 0.01.
TABLE 2: Descripve stascs, reliabilies and correlaons of the scales.
Number Variable Mean SD ω12 3
1 Social well-being 3.79 1.23 0.92 - - -
2 Job sasfacon 3.20 0.70 0.66 0.56*++ - -
3 Intenon to leave 2.69 1.36 0.89 -0.33*+-0.65*++ -
4 Organisaonal cizenship behaviour 5.61 1.05 0.87 0.43*+0.46*+-0.03
Note: Parameters for the correlaon coecients were considered small eect when r ≥ 0.10, medium eect when r ≥ 0.30 (+) and large eect when r ≥ 0.50 (++).
SD, standard deviaon.
*, p < 0.01.
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satisfaction showed a statistically signiﬁcant standard path
coefﬁcient (β = 0.56; p < 0.01) and displayed the expected
sign. Hypothesis 1 was supported. For the model portion
focusing on organisational citizenship behaviour, the path
coefﬁcient of social well-being (β = 0.43; p < 0.01) was
statistically signiﬁcant and displayed the anticipated sign.
Hypothesis 2 was supported. Furthermore, social well-being
in relation to intention to leave also had a statistically
signiﬁcant standard path coefﬁcient and displayed the
expected sign (β = -0.33; p < 0.01). Hypothesis 3 was
In terms of effect sizes (Cohen, 1988), the model displayed in
Figure 1 accounted for the following percentages of variance
explained (R2): job satisfaction = 31.4% (medium effect),
organisational citizenship behaviour = 18.7% (small effect)
and intention to leave = 11.0% (small effect).
To investigate the possibility that social well-being might
also associate with organisational citizenship behaviour
through job satisfaction as an underlying facilitative factor
(H4), a simple mediation analysis was performed using
Mplus 8.6. By using the Hayes (2018) procedure, the
indirect effects of social well-being on organisational
citizenship behaviour and intention to leave were
evaluated. Bootstrapping was used to construct conﬁdence
intervals based on an empirically derived sampling
distribution of the indirect effect. With 5000 bootstrap
samples, 95% conﬁdence intervals (CIs) based on bias-
corrected estimates were constructed. The indirect
association of social well-being with organisational
citizenship behaviour through job satisfaction was found
to be signiﬁcant: (β = 0.11, p < 0.01 [0.05, 0.21]). Therefore,
Hypothesis 4, indicating that job satisfaction mediated the
association between social well-being and organisational
citizenship behaviour, was accepted. Furthermore, the
indirect association of social well-being with intention to
leave through job satisfaction was found to be signiﬁcant
(β = –0.42, p < 0.01 [–0.63, –0.26]). Therefore, Hypothesis 5,
indicating that job satisfaction mediated the association
between social well-being and intention to leave, was
Instilling social well-being through improved levels of
job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour
and lower intention to leave should form part of
business priorities to promote growth beyond economic
understanding; companies rarely realise the importance of
social well-being in relation to these facets (Munzel, Meyer-
Waarden, & Galan, 2018).
This study investigated how social well-being associated
with important individual and organisational work
outcomes, namely job satisfaction, organisational citizenship
behaviour and intention to leave. The ﬁndings suggested that
statistically signiﬁcant associations existed between social
well-being and job satisfaction (Hypothesis 1), organisational
citizenship behaviour (Hypothesis 2) and intention to leave
(Hypothesis 3). Furthermore, social well-being was found to
be indirectly related to organisational citizenship behaviour
via job satisfaction (Hypothesis 4).
TABLE 3: Regression coecients.
Regression relaonships βSE p
Social well-being → Job sasfacon 0.56 0.04 0.000*
Social well-being → Intenon to leave -0.33 0.05 0.000*
Social well-being → Organisaonal cizenship behaviour 0.43 0.05 0.000*
SE, standard error.
*, all two-tailed p < 0.01.
Sctrb, social contribuon; Sint, social integraon; Sactz, social actualisaon; Sacpt, social acceptance, Scoh, Social coherence; SWB, social well-being; JS, job sasfacon; OCB, organisaonal
cizenship behaviour; Cbcq, altruism; Cborg, generalised compliance; Tl, turnover intent.
FIGURE 1: Standardised path coecients for the best-ng model (standard errors are in brackets).
R2 = 0.314
R2 = 0.187
R2 = 0.701
R2 = 0.832
R2 = 0.11
β = 0.898**
β = 0.690**
β = 0.560**
β = 0.890**
β = 0.782**
β = 0.878**
β = -0.331
β = 0.912**
β = 0.432**
β = 0.837**
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The positive association between social well-being and job
satisfaction was in line with recent studies by Alegre et al.
(2016) and Cek and Eyupoglu (2020) that were conducted in
settings other than the utility industry. As the study showed
that social well-being promoted job satisfaction in a utility
organisation as well, the ﬁndings added to the existing body of
knowledge. In line with Schützenberger (2016), who
emphasised the importance of job satisfaction for economically
advanced and developing countries alike, the study illustrated
the importance of the association between social well-being
and job satisfaction in an organisation in a developing country
context, which extended illustrations of the observed
association between social well-being and job satisfaction
beyond industry, profession and country-speciﬁc contexts.
Conﬁrmation of the ﬁrst hypothesis (H1) implied that
interventions intended to promote job satisfaction ought to
strengthen social support networks, for increased social
well-being would yield positive results for job satisfaction
(e.g. increased participative behaviour or employees having
more creative problem-solving ideas); this can be performed,
for instance, by offering employees productive spaces to
build interpersonal relationships (Dutton & Ragins, 2007).
From a ﬁnancial perspective, encouraging job satisfaction
through employee relations as embedded in social well-
being is imperative because organisations make money
through retention of happy and satisﬁed employees, which
has a direct impact on organisational growth or revenue
The second hypothesis focused on the link between social
well-being and organisational citizenship behaviour. The
ﬁnding in this regard also conﬁrmed a positive association
and provided further support for previous research that
demonstrated that organisational citizenship behaviour was
heightened through social well-being (Kumar, Jauhari, &
Singh, 2016; Masilela, 2018; Rastogi & Garg, 2011). The
ﬁndings indicated that improved social ties and positive
social exchanges led to multiplication of organisational
citizenship behaviour; the more satisﬁed employees were
with their work, the more likely it was that they would
be inclined to demonstrate organisational citizenship
behaviour – and this behaviour would be directed towards
co-workers and towards the organisation (Kumar et al., 2016;
Rastogi & Garg, 2011).
The present ﬁndings suggested that organisations ought to
explore methods of increasing social well-being to promote
organisational citizenship behaviour as prompted by social
ties (Kumar et al., 2016). Ways to do this can include
incorporating employee suggestions more; this will free
superiors to spend more time on strategic initiatives that will
improve organisational directives and allow workers to feel
appreciated (Attaran, Attaran, & Kirkland, 2019). Organisations
should also look into motivating organisational citizenship
behaviour through non-monetary interventions (e.g.
encouraging further studies, on-the-job training or acting in
higher positions, etc.) because research has shown that
employees are not only fuelled by money (Allen, Peltokorpi, &
Rubenstein, 2016). Organisations can increase organisational
citizenship behaviour by acknowledging employees’ religious
customs as one means of doing so. This will also signal that
organisations recognise that employees have a deeper life
nourished by meaningful work over and above salary reasons,
which will foster a sense of togetherness, which aligns
organisational values (Hudson, 2014).
The third hypothesis focused on the relationship between
social well-being and intention to leave, revealed that where
high social well-being existed, a decrease in intention to leave
was observed. This provided further evidence that the work
environment did indeed play an important role in promoting
employee social well-being and in retaining employees. This
ﬁnding supported previous research showing a link between
social unwellness and voluntary turnover (Janse van
Rensburg et al., 2017; Redelinghuys et al., 2019). In addition,
it strengthened previous research claiming that reasons for
turnover extended beyond a lack of monetary incentives that
traditional turnover models concentrated on why employees
left, but did not consider the aspect of social well-being and
such perspectives were too narrow to provide a holistic view
of why employees left (Allen et al., 2016).
The fourth hypothesis of this study was to test whether
the relation of social well-being with organisational
citizenship behaviour was mediated by job satisfaction.
This study showed that job satisfaction and organisational
citizenship behaviour were associated with social well-being.
Furthermore, the effect of social well-being on organisational
citizenship behaviour seems to be enhanced by the presence
of a high level of job satisfaction. The ﬁndings further conﬁrm
the conclusions of Isen and Baron (1991) that a high level of
job satisfaction evokes positive moods, which, in turn,
increase organisational citizenship behaviour. Job satisfaction
also pointed towards a catalyst for organisational citizenship
The ﬁnal hypothesis of the study focused on job satisfaction
as a mediator of the relationship between social well-being
and intention to leave. Our ﬁndings showed that when
social well-being is strengthened, intentions to leave the
organisation are likely to decrease. The simultaneous
presence of higher levels of job satisfaction would serve as an
underlying mechanism through which the inverse effect of
social well-being on turnover intention would be ampliﬁed.
This ﬁnding supported a previous study by Gandy et al.
(2018) that underlined the importance of both social relations
and job satisfaction for retaining valued employees and
extended the existing knowledge base. As far as we are
aware, it was the ﬁrst time that the facilitative role of job
satisfaction in the association between social well-being and
turnover intention was tested within a developing country
The ﬁndings of this study conﬁrm previous research
advocating that a more integrated approach to promote well-
being, including its social aspects, ought to be adopted that
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would require employee well-being to be at the centre of
company agendas (De Simone, 2014; Litchﬁeld et al., 2016). It
is, thus, imperative that the utility industry take note of the
associations found between social well-being, job satisfaction,
organisational citizenship behaviour and intention to leave
because implementing ways to increase employee social
well-being to retain human capital will be in the best interests
of the industry. This could be beneﬁcial to South African
industries that already have a social advantage in the form of
Ubuntu and leveraging existing social structures could
catapult organisations into unlimited horizons when it comes
to retaining employees.
Regarding the effects of social well-being on job satisfaction,
organisational citizenship behaviour and intention to leave,
the results showed that the effect size for job satisfaction was
almost double the size for organisational citizenship
behaviour and three times the size for intention to leave.
Therefore, it seemed that social well-being had a bigger
effect on employees’ job satisfaction than on organisational
citizenship behaviour and intention to leave. This means that
when the organisation supports social well-being, beneﬁts
reaped will be evident in terms of improved employee well-
being and in more organisational citizenship behaviour and
decreased intention to leave; the most striking beneﬁts will,
however, be earned in terms of improved job satisfaction
outcomes. The utility industry can employ indicators of
social well-being (such as the measure employed by
this study) to establish a baseline for establishing
existing employee social well-being levels and set targets
for improving social well-being that human resource
practitioners can monitor to devise strategic plans. Social
well-being can also be fostered by encouraging initiatives to
be published in a monthly newsletter or wellness index that
can monitor social well-being amongst workers and enrich
the value of human capital (Sinobuntu), which forms an
important part of the utility industry.
The ﬁndings of this study can be understood in more speciﬁc
terms by considering the speciﬁc components of social well-
being in more detail. Social integration (feeling part of a
community): this has a positive effect on an employee’s
psychological state because it fosters a sense of belonging
and well-being, which is nurtured through the employee’s
relationship with his or her work society or community.
Employees feel that they form part of an organisation when
they have something in common with other workers in the
same environment; such employees stay longer and are less
inclined to exit the organisation (Keyes, 1998). According to
Geue (2017), 77% of workers deem workplace friendship to
be a priority. Methods such as one-on-one engagement,
incorporating remote workers into teams, celebrating
milestones and encouraging employee input can increase
belongingness amongst disheartened utility industry
workers, and this dynamic compels managers to look into
methods to enrich organisational relations.
Social acceptance (accepting others): employees who display
high social acceptance work together and rely heavily on one
another for support; it eases the burden of uncertainty,
leading to less turnover (Geue, 2017). Individuals absorbed
into an organisation become familiar with organisational
culture through social acceptance – a process encouraged by
social inclusion through fair recruitment or promotional
opportunities. The workplace consists of people from
various backgrounds and organisations should uncover
what promotes social inclusion amid diversity; this will
improve organisational cohesion, interaction and teamwork
Social coherence (understanding the social world):
individuals who embrace opportunities and challenges hold
companies in high regard and are less likely to resign from an
organisation (Struwig et al., 2013). Coronavirus disease-19
(COVID-19) has forced organisations to increase efforts to
strengthen citizenship. This can be done through employee
engagement sessions (online sessions), 10-min interaction
sessions before electronic meetings and planning employee-
of-the-month virtual award ceremonies to recognise good
work, which will increase employees’ social well-being
(Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2017). In addition,
organisations can implement exploratory analysis where
questions are incorporated to provide the company with an
indication of the level of social cohesion experienced amongst
workers. This will enable an organisation to address
identiﬁed pitfalls (Struwig et al., 2013).
Social actualisation (an individual’s growth within society):
employees perceive employers as caring about them once
their suggestions have been incorporated. This allows
employees to grow, which improves company efﬁciency.
Excessive turnover rates expose organisational defects;
money is often used as a band-aid, leaving the real reasons
for turnover unresolved. Excessive intention to leave rates
are not always negative, as they provide employees with a
platform for coming up with innovations to curb intention to
leave; this participation contributes to a growth in employees’
morale and decreased intentions to leave (Songcaka, 2015).
Social contribution (an individual’s sense of contributing to
society): people provide organisations with insight to
formulate better organisational strategies. Considering
employees’ contribution results in employees working
harder when efforts are valued and becoming more
dedicated to the company. Employees’ intrinsic rewards
from feeling valued are greater than ﬁnancial compensation
and are more likely to make them stay in the organisation
Limitaons and recommendaons for future
Although the employment of a cross-sectional study was
useful for exploring initial relations between constructs in a
novel context such as the utility industry (which is hampered
by ﬁnancial constraints) in a cost-effective manner (Spector,
2019), the design made it precarious to draw conclusions
regarding regression analysis based on the impact of social
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well-being. Future studies could follow up through
longitudinal research to verify causal relations and gain a
wider understanding that could reﬁne recommendations
The self-reported data might have been contaminated by
CMV. This possibility is acknowledged but needs to be seen
in perspective. Spector (2019), for example, questions the
usefulness of CMV testing for several reasons, including the
problem that none of the existing range of statistical
techniques can eliminate the possibility of CMV beyond any
doubt and also acknowledges that the use of self-reported
questionnaires is still considered ideal to tap into employees’
personal thoughts, feelings and subjective assessment of
their own experiences despite the risk of encountering CMV
in the process (Spector, 2019). Finally, this study only focused
on study participants from a utility organisation and ﬁndings
cannot be generalised to other contexts without expanding
Given the current state of the world of work, ensuring worker
well-being and retaining human capital in the utility industry
should be the top priority. Not only do workers provide an
essential service; they are also at the forefront in driving
South Africa’s economy. The ﬁndings from this study
underlined the importance of social well-being and its role in
enhancing job satisfaction and organisational citizenship
behaviour and in reducing employee turnover. This means
that in contrast to throwing money at problems as a quick-ﬁx
attempt, businesses have to reinvent retention strategies by
taking a closer look at how enhancing the social well-being of
employees can be used to attract and keep the best employees.
The authors would like to acknowledge the electricity utility
organisation and its employees who participated in the study.
The authors declare that they have no ﬁnancial or personal
relationships that may have inappropriately inﬂuenced them
in writing this article.
E.H. acted as ﬁrst author (as the article is partially based on
her thesis with M.M.H. as promotor and S.R. as co-
promotor). M.M.H. acted as statistical specialist. M.M.H. and
S.R. contributed towards the conceptualisation, review and
editing of the article.
Ethical approval was granted by the Economic and
Management Sciences Research Ethics Committee (EMS-
REC) at North-West University (NWU-00745-20-A4).
This research received no speciﬁc grant from any funding
agency in the public, commercial or not-for-proﬁt sectors.
The authors conﬁrm that the data supporting the ﬁndings of
this study are available within the article and the raw data
that support the ﬁndings are available from the corresponding
author, M.M.H., upon reasonable request. The main
consideration for this was based on the ethical clearance
conditions stipulated for this study in order to protect the
organisation of interest.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of
the authors and do not necessarily reﬂect the ofﬁcial policy or
position of any afﬁliated agency of the authors.
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