The art of happiness at work

Leadership Lessons from Don Quixote
5th February 2017
The art of talent management
5th February 2017
One of the main goals of work and organizational psychology is to promote the well-being and performance of employees. However, the different authors do not agree on the fundamental concept of happiness. Whereas some authors see happiness as “pleasure”, others prefer the concept of happiness as a mixture of “pleasure”, “engagement” and “meaning”, avoiding the definition of happiness, and hiding it behind the concept of well-being.

Human beings have always tended to pursue happiness as a goal or an end, as an ideal and permanent state of well-being and at which to arrive. But we are not content with a happy future at the cost of a miserable life; we want to be happy at every moment of our life. This permanent happiness, however, seems very difficult to achieve, if not impossible, for life is always providing us with situations characterized by their “contrariness”, i.e., opposed to our likes, our interests and our calmness. If we feel happy at any moment in time, a reason for disappointment soon appears, or some circumstance that disrupts our well-being. It seems that happiness cannot be permanent, but rather it is composed of small moments, details experienced in daily life, and perhaps its main characteristic is futility, its ability to appear and disappear constantly throughout our lives.

What does it consist of, this happiness that we all pursue? Defining the concept is hard work. It is surely one of the most controversial and complicated definitions. This is a “central concern” for humanity. Now, the subject matter is further complicated if we associate the concept of “happiness” with another complicated concept: “work“. In fact, although there is no general agreement on the definition of happiness, scientists are very concerned about man achieving happiness, especially in the workplace because, we work 56,000 hours and we live about 700,000. The new millennium goal is to be happy at work. In the new millennium, happiness at work is presented as an issue of utmost importance. In fact, the World Health Organization analyses estimate that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of work incapacity, and they indicate that at present 22% of the workforce in Europe (almost 40 million workers) are victims of stress due to work. Reseatches shown that positive organisational behaviour can contribute between 4% and 15% of the variation in work performance. In addition, the authors calculated the economic impact of the results in the two companies where the research was conducted, concluding that the usefulness of individual positive psychology (optimism = 0.028 and persistence/tenacity = 0.055) multiplied by the average salary of an employee ($ 50,000) and multiplied by the number of workers (almost 25,000) results in an increase of $ 50,000,000 in the companies’ profits. Finally, the authors note that “the positive behaviours of workers, together with the positive behaviours of organisations, have a positive and substantial impact on both individual and organisational performance as well as on other business results. These results are probably more important than the results that can be achieved using other material resources, or other economic models.” Other empirical studies support these findings. In particular, the investigations of Wright and Cropanzano (2004), which show that Happiness/Psychological Well-being (PWB), a very similar concept to that of positive organisational behaviour, explained up to 25% of the variation in the results of workers. Specifically, the authors note that the higher the level of happiness and positive emotions of workers, the stronger the link between job satisfaction, performance and results. These authors, making a calculation similar to the one described above, note that in a company of 10 engineers with an average salary of $ 65,000, the annual profit of Happiness / Psychological Well-being (PWB) is $ 650,000. Other researchers, Judge and Erez (2007) suggest that a correct application to performance of the combination of Emotional stability and Extraversion – which, in turn, is a reflection of a happy personality – involves much more significant results than isolated behaviours. Their results clearly indicate that people who are optimistic, cheerful and enthusiastic in life, achieve better performance than sad people.

If you want to know more, visit:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *