Abstract happiness, subjective well-being, workplace 1. Introduction Work


Happiness at the workplace refers
to how satisfied people are with their work and lives. Employee wellbeing is related to the happiness or satisfaction of the
employees. Employee wellbeing at the workplace is crucial for improving productivity
in any organization. To
increase productivity employee wellbeing should be enhanced in organization. Therefore, they should know what factors could affect employee happiness
in order to effectively enhance happiness at the workplace. But research on employee happiness was rarely seen in the past before this
research. The issue of happiness at the workplace needs to be properly
conceptualized in organizations so that useful research for this concern could
be conducted. This paper presents a potential conceptual framework of happiness at the
workplace that could give valuable contribution to future research in this

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Keywords: conceptual framework,
happiness, subjective well-being, workplace

1. Introduction Work is one of vital aspect of people’s lives (Dulk,
Groeneveld, Ollier-Malaterre, ; Valcour, 2013). People perform their work in exchange for either monetary or non-monetary
rewards (Stiglbauer ; Batinic,
2012). In today’s changing world, the world of work has been changing quickly
(Baran, Shanock, & Miller,
2012; The shifting work environments (e.g. the increasing globalization of
business, robust technology, and new organizational practices) lead to the
fluctuating nature of duties (Connell, Gough, McDonnell, & Burgess, 2014; Nature of task is defined as “the actual content of the job or work characteristics” (Benrazavi & Silong, 2013, p. 129). From human resource management (HRM) perspective, HRM practices (e.g.
downsizing, outsourcing) impact the nature and scope of work (Colakoglu, Lepak,
& Hong,
2006). Business reformation and downsizing which aim to reduce the workforce for
improving organizational performance maybe can make employees feel unsatisfied
with their jobs (Klehe, Zikic, Van Vianen, & De Pater, 2011). Employees who perceive job insecurity have lower commitment to their
organizations and they plan to leave their jobs (Silla, Gracia, Ma?as,
& Peiró,
2010. Their job satisfaction has an impact on organizational performance (Dalal,
Baysinger, Brummel, & Lebreton,
2012). If they are satisfied with work, their productivity would be increased
(Barmby, Bryson, & Eberth, 2012 Generally, employers expect a high level of performance and
productivity from their employees (Thompson & Goodale, 2006 Most companies need creative
workers to work for them so as they could achieve organizational goals (Chong
& Eggleton, 2007; Many companies used decision-making tools for the
purpose of increasing production (Salis & Williams, 2010; The studies by Salis and Williams (2010), Samnani and Singh (2014), and
Tabassi and Abu Bakar (2009) considered HRM practices (e.g. compensation
system, face-to-face communication) as the means to increase productivity. Moreover, maintaining happiness at the workplace can increase employees’
output (Quick ; Quick,
2004). The previous studies (e.g. Quick ; Quick, 2004 Rego ; Cunha, 2008) state that happy employees are productive employees. Conversely, unhappiness at the workplace reduces yield (Fereidouni, Najdi,
; Amiri,
2013). The happiness issues have been widely studied in various fields such as
philosophy, religion, psychology, sociology, and economics (Aydin, 2012). The term “happiness” has been discussed by many
researchers (Björke, 2012; Johnston, Luciano, Maggiori, Ruch, & Rossier, 2013). “Happiness” is common to all people in every culture because everyone
searches for happiness (Aydin, 2012; It is related to an individual’s subjective
well-being (Angner, Hullett, & Allison, 2011; Jiang, Lu, & Sato, 2012) or life satisfaction (Van Praag, Romanov,
& Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2010). There is a close relationship between job and life satisfaction (Saari
& Judge, 2004). Job satisfaction affects life satisfaction while life satisfaction also
affects job satisfaction (Saari & Judge, 2004). Thus, happiness at the workplace refers to an individual’s work and life
satisfaction, or subjective well-being at the workplace (Bhattacharjee &
Bhattacharjee, 2010; Carleton, 2009). In this paper, the two terms “happiness” and “subjective well-being” are used interchangeably (Frey & Stutzer, 2000a). Whereas happiness at the workplace is important to both individuals and
organizations (Fisher, 2010; Simmons, 2014), the research on employee happiness in organizations is
limited (Fisher, 2010; Hosie, Willemyns, & Sevastos, 2012; Sloan, 2005). It should be investigated further in order to provide sufficient knowledge
to academics, practitioners, and those who are interested in the notion of
happiness at the workplace (Hosie et al., 2012; Sloan, 2005). This paper therefore develops a conceptual framework of happiness at the
workplace that could be used for conducting the research on this area. It begins with conceptual framework.

2. Conceptual Framework

This paper focused on happiness at
individual level (i.e. happiness of individual employees). Based on the literature review (e.g. Angner et al., 2011; Demir, Özen, Do?an, Bilyk, & Tyrell, 2011; Mohanty, 2009; Tadi?, Bakker, & Oerlemans, 2013), happiness constructs at the
workplace were identified. The interrelations between theory categories (such as employment status,
income, friendship, and work activities) and happiness were supported by the
previous studies. The
aforementioned variables are the significant factors which impacts happiness at
the workplace. This paper assumed that these factors can make employees happy, which in
turn their performance would be improved (Atkinson & Hall, 2011). However, people in each region (e.g. Asia and Europe) or in each culture
have their own philosophy of happiness (Schwartz, 2007; Trung, Cheong, Nghi, & Kim, 2013). This paper presents a conceptual framework which is composed of
independent variables (employment status, income, friendship, and work
activities), dependent variable (happiness at the workplace), and moderating
variable (cultural values). Happiness
at the workplace is hypothesized to be influenced by some factors such as
employment status, income, friendship, and work activities. The relationship between dependent and independent variable is moderated
by cultural values.

2.1 Employment Status

Employment status refers to an
employment-related condition in which an employee is being held (Foroutan,
2011). Individuals’ happiness be contingent on their
employment status (Frey & Stutzer, 2000b; full-time or part-time employment (Berger, 2009)). Employees generally seek for employment security (Silla, De Cuyper,
Gracia, Peiró, & De
Witte, 2009). Unemployment status makes people unhappy (Escott & Buckner, 2013). Their experience of unemployment or fear of unemployment can decrease
happiness (Ohtake, 2012). Particularly, individuals who value family relationships may be unhappier
with unemployment status if it causes their family difficulties (Campbell, 2013
Many studies have confirmed that unemployment affects happiness, but part-time
and full-time employment that may affect employee happiness are needed to be
inspected further (Berger, 2009). A study of maternal employment and happiness by
Berger (2009) states that part-time employees have lower life satisfaction than
full-time employees. However, voluntary part-time employees who select not to work full-time
are at an advantage than those of full-time employees (Nikolova &

2.2 Income

Income comprises the remuneration
and salary earned by an individual (Mathur, 2012). A study on income and happiness by Caporale, Georgellis, Tsitsianis and
Yin (2009) approves that there is a strong affiliation between a person’s
revenue and life satisfaction. This
is because people who have higher revenue have more chances to buy desired
goods and amenities (Frey ; Stutzer, 2002; Even though people who gain higher income seem to be happier people, their
happiness level is affected by working hours (Binswanger, 2006; Paul & Guilbert, 2013). People may be unhappy with their jobs if they have long working hours
(Georgellis, Lange, & Tabvuma, 2012). Furthermore, people relate their own income with others (Lembregts &
Pandelaere, 2014; Oshio & Kobayashi, 2011). They are likely to be happy when they perceive income equality (De
Prycker, 2010). Oshio and Kobayashi (2011) contend that individuals who experience income
inequality are less happy. In contrast, Hopkins (2008) reasons that income inequality can positively
affect happiness of some competitive people who gain more income than others. This is because competitive people try to make the difference between
their own and others’ rewards (Brody, 2010). They may be happy with higher income even if it is unequal to those people
(Hopkins, 2008). Independent Variables Moderating Variable Dependent Variable Employment
Status Income Friendship Work Activities Happiness at the Workplace Cultural

2.3 Friendship

Friendship is defined as a close
affiliation among friends (Huang, 2008). People express their friendship through feeling
and behavior (Huang, 2008; Spencer, 2012). Friendship at the workplace refers to individuals’ relationship with their
peers, assistants, and superiors (Austin, 2009; Lee, 2005; Mao & Hsieh, 2012). Friendship at the workplace has a positive impact on organizational
productivity and employees’ work attitudes towards their jobs (Song, 2005). Many studies show the link between interpersonal relationship and
happiness (Demir & Davidson, 2013; Søraker, 2012; Westaway, Olorunju, & Rai, 2007). Positive friendship not only effects happiness of employees but also
affects yield (Bader et al., 2013). Friendship groups are more committed to their work and lead to higher
production (Dotan, 2007). Employees who have meaningful friendship are happier than those who are
alone (Snow, 2013). Consistently, Wright (2005) asserts that lonely people are less joyful. People who have significant friendships may be happy because good friends
are willing to behave positively to each other (Simon, Judge, &
Halvorsen-Ganepola, 2010). It should be highlighted that happy employees are mostly sociable people
who have more friends (Ganser, 2012).

2.4 Work Activities

Work activities are the activities
or duties that are performed by workers (Siccama, 2006). Some workers are happy with their work activities while some employees
have negative experiences at work (Siegall & McDonald, 2004). Individual could have different levels of happiness during different work
happenings (Tadi? et al., 2013). They may happy to perform specific work activities (Tadi? et al., 2013; Waryszak & King, 2001). Martin (2008) argues that people feel happy when they pursue meaningful
actions. Thus, supervisors should know how to manage the meaning of work for
employees (Cleavenger & Munyon, 2013; Vasconcelos, 2008). If employees perceive significance and meaning of work, they may be happy
to do their employment (Dimitrov, 2012; MacMillan, 2009).

2.5 Cultural Values

Cultural values are “belief systems that a society is committed to and that are handed down
from one generation to the next” (Hassan, 2011, p. 111). A study by Downie, Koestner and Chua (2007) presents that cultural values
can support an individual’s self-determination to the happiness in diverse
countries. The study shows the mean level differences of happiness across countries
(Downie et al., 2007). Similarly, this paper assumed that the above-mentioned factors (employment
status, income, friendship, and work activities) do not have the same effect to
employee happiness in different cultures. The concepts of happiness may vary among different societies or cultures
(Lu, Gilmour, & Kao, 2001). People from different cultures (e.g. Western and Eastern cultures) value
different things (Goos, 2012; Lee, Scandura & Sharif, 2014). Western cultural values are mainly focused on individualism that views
each individual as an autonomous person (Cho, Thyroff, Rapert, Part, & Lee,
2013; Goh, Lee, & Salleh, 2009). Individualistic people place a high value on self-interests and personal
goals (Rego & Cunha, 2009). Hence, their happiness is based on personal factors (e.g. personal
attitudes and beliefs) (Ram, 2010). Eastern cultural values are emphasized on collectivism (Shao &
Skarlicki, 2014). In collectivistic cultures, group goals are more important rather than
individual goals (Zhang, Van Doorn, & Leeflang, 2014). They believe that an person’s individual goals should not threaten group

3. Discussion

Employees are happy when they are
understanding stable employment (Scherer, 2009). Permanent employees seem to be more satisfied with their jobs than
temporary employees (Ong & Shah, 2012; Scherer, 2009). Sora, Caballer and Peiró (2010) maintain that temporary employees perceive
a high level of job insecurity. Unstable employment not only makes employees feel unhappy but also affects
the rate of employee turnover and organizational performance (Dike, 2011). This is because temporary employees are more likely to intend to leave
their jobs than permanent employees (Sora et al., 2010). Many studies (e.g. Gebremariam, Gebremedhin, & Schaeffer, 2010; Rotaru, 2014) show the link between employment and income growth. Employment can be considered as an important source of income (Zuvekas
& Hill, 2000). People who have better employment status (i.e. stable employment) gain
higher income (Shlay, Weinraub, Harmon, & Tran, 2004). They may be happier than those who have lower employment status and gain
lower income (Caporale et al., 2009). Furthermore, it should be noted that self-employed people seem to be more
satisfied with work than those who are employed in organizations (Benz &
Frey, 2008). Employed and self-employed people have different work processes that might
have an impact to their happiness level (Benz & Frey, 2008). As a result, this paper views work activities as one of happiness
constructs. People find the kinds of work tasks that are matched with their interests
(Porfeli & Mortimer, 2010). The individuals’ interests can be concerned with meaning of work
(Michaelson, 2011). Some people are probably happy to pursue the meaningful work (Grady &
McCarthy, 2008). An understanding of factors contributing to meaning of work is useful for
the organizations to provide employees with meaningful work (Michaelson, Pratt,
Grant, & Dunn, 2014). In addition to the three happiness constructs mentioned earlier, people
value friendship at the workplace as important to their work life (Mao, Hsieh,
& Chen, 2012). Friendship at the workplace facilitates the exchange of resources and
ideas among employees (Chang, 2013; D’Cruz & Noronha, 2011). It enhances employees’ attitudes towards work and work performance (Lin,
2010). Employees who are happy with work and have positive friendships at the
workplace are less likely to leave their jobs (Dike, 2011). However, Mao and Hsieh (2012) argue that employees with different work
levels may differ in friendship expectation. Higher-level employees had lower expectation for friendship at work (Mao
& Hsieh, 2012). Thus,
employees performing different work levels could differ in happiness of
friendship as well. Maintaining employee happiness is necessary to ensure accessibility of
workforce (Asiyabi & Mirabi, 2012; Lindorff, 2010). According to the changing world of effort, most employees change their
jobs several times (Clarke, 2007; Sun & Wang, 2011). Many organizations have problems retaining the competent employees who
have high potential to achieve organizational goals (Chaudhry & Shah, 2011;
Kumar & Dhamodaran, 2013). It can be said that enhancing happiness at the workplace is a challenge
for take full advantage of organizational productivity (Chaudhry & Shah,

4. Conclusion

In this paper, the relationship
between independent variables and happiness at the workplace is assumed to be
moderated by cultural values. Employee happiness may change in different cultural contexts. The research on happiness issues should be discovered further to include
various cultures as well as numerous types of organizations (Sloan, 2005). Since the notion of happiness is crucial for organizational performance
and efficiency, HR managers need to design and manage a workplace to enhance
employee happiness (Gavin & Mason, 2004; Rego & Cunha, 2008). Happy employees bring their happiness from the office to their home; likewise, they also transfer their happiness from their home to the office
(Asiyabi & Mirabi, 2012). This suggests that there is a possible close interrelation between an
individual’s work and life.


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