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TitleHappiness at Work
TagsHappiness & Self-Help Affect (Psychology) Well Being Job Satisfaction Flow (Psychology)
File Size246.4 KB
Total Pages29
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Cynthia D. Fisher*
School of Business, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD 4229, Australia

Happiness in the form of pleasant moods and emotions, well-being, and positive atti-
tudes has been attracting increasing attention throughout psychology research. The
interest in happiness has also extended to workplace experiences. This paper reviews
what is known about the definition, causes and consequences of happiness at work,
drawing also on insights from the expanding positive psychology literature on happi-
ness in general. Many discrete organizational behavior constructs arguably belong to a
larger family of happiness-related constructs, and share some common causes and
consequences. Happiness at work includes, but is far more than, job satisfaction. A
comprehensive measure of individual-level happiness might include work engagement,
job satisfaction, and affective organizational commitment. Aspects of happiness have
been (and should be) conceptualized and measured at multiple levels, including tran-
sient experiences, stable person-level attitudes, and collective attitudes, and with
respect to multiple foci, such as discrete events, the job, and the organization. At all
levels, there is evidence that happiness has important consequences for both individuals
and organizations. Past research has tended to underestimate the importance of hap-
piness at work.

Introduction

Being happy is of great importance to most people,
and happiness has been found to be a highly valued
goal in most societies (Diener 2000). Happiness, in
the form of joy, appears in every typology of ‘basic’
human emotions. Feeling happy is fundamental to
human experience, and most people are at least
mildly happy much of the time (Diener and Diener
1996). Happiness has attracted the attention of
philosophers since the dawn of written history
(McMahon 2006), but has only recently come to the
fore in psychology research. The rise of positive psy-
chology in the past decade (Seligman and Csikszent-
mihalyi 2000) has legitimized attention to happiness
and other positive states as opposed to the previously
dominant disease model which directed attention dis-
proportionately to illness, depression, stress and
similar negative experiences and outcomes.

This review is aimed at happiness at work. Orga-
nizational researchers have been inspired by the
move towards positive psychology in general, and
have begun to pursue positive organizational schol-
arship (Cameron et al. 2003) and positive organiza-
tional behavior (Luthans 2002; Wright 2003), though
there is still debate on exactly what these terms
encompass and how helpful they might be (Fineman
2006; Hackman 2009; Luthans and Avolio 2009;
Roberts 2006). As will be explained below, a number
of constructs in organizational behavior appear to
have some overlap with the broad concept of happi-
ness in the workplace.

In the pages that follow, three sets of questions
about happiness are addressed:

(1) How has happiness been defined and measured?
(2) What are the antecedents of happiness?
(3) What are the consequences of happiness?

For each question, I begin with a brief overview of
what is known from the psychology literature on
happiness in general, and then move to a discussion
of what is known about happiness specifically in the
workplace. I conclude with a discussion of gaps in

*Address for correspondence: Cynthia D. Fisher, Professor
of Management, School of Business, Bond University, Gold
Coast, QLD 4229, Australia; Tel.: +61 755 952215; e-mail:
[email protected]

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