Abstract Happiness at the workplace refersto how satisfied people are with their work and lives. Employee wellbeing is related to the happiness or satisfaction of theemployees. Employee wellbeing at the workplace is crucial for improving productivityin any organization. Toincrease productivity employee wellbeing should be enhanced in organization.
Therefore, they should know what factors could affect employee happinessin order to effectively enhance happiness at the workplace. But research on employee happiness was rarely seen in the past before thisresearch. The issue of happiness at the workplace needs to be properlyconceptualized in organizations so that useful research for this concern couldbe conducted. This paper presents a potential conceptual framework of happiness at theworkplace that could give valuable contribution to future research in thisarea.
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-monetaryrewards (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 ofbusiness, robust technology, and new organizational practices) lead to thefluctuating 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 forimproving organizational performance maybe can make employees feel unsatisfiedwith their jobs (Klehe, Zikic, Van Vianen, & De Pater, 2011). Employees who perceive job insecurity have lower commitment to theirorganizations 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 andproductivity from their employees (Thompson & Goodale, 2006 Most companies need creativeworkers to work for them so as they could achieve organizational goals (Chong& Eggleton, 2007; Many companies used decision-making tools for thepurpose of increasing production (Salis & Williams, 2010; The studies by Salis and Williams (2010), Samnani and Singh (2014), andTabassi and Abu Bakar (2009) considered HRM practices (e.g. compensationsystem, 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 asphilosophy, religion, psychology, sociology, and economics (Aydin, 2012). The term “happiness” has been discussed by manyresearchers (Björke, 2012; Johnston, Luciano, Maggiori, Ruch, & Rossier, 2013). “Happiness” is common to all people in every culture because everyonesearches for happiness (Aydin, 2012; It is related to an individual’s subjectivewell-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 alsoaffects job satisfaction (Saari & Judge, 2004).
Thus, happiness at the workplace refers to an individual’s work and lifesatisfaction, or subjective well-being at the workplace (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 andorganizations (Fisher, 2010; Simmons, 2014), the research on employee happiness in organizations islimited (Fisher, 2010; Hosie, Willemyns, & Sevastos, 2012; Sloan, 2005).
It should be investigated further in order to provide sufficient knowledgeto academics, practitioners, and those who are interested in the notion ofhappiness at the workplace (Hosie et al., 2012; Sloan, 2005). This paper therefore develops a conceptual framework of happiness at theworkplace that could be used for conducting the research on this area. It begins with conceptual framework.
2. Conceptual Framework This paper focused on happiness atindividual 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 theworkplace were identified.
The interrelations between theory categories (such as employment status,income, friendship, and work activities) and happiness were supported by theprevious studies. Theaforementioned variables are the significant factors which impacts happiness atthe workplace. This paper assumed that these factors can make employees happy, which inturn their performance would be improved (Atkinson & Hall, 2011).
However, people in each region (e.g. Asia and Europe) or in each culturehave their own philosophy of happiness (Schwartz, 2007; Trung, Cheong, Nghi, & Kim, 2013). This paper presents a conceptual framework which is composed ofindependent variables (employment status, income, friendship, and workactivities), dependent variable (happiness at the workplace), and moderatingvariable (cultural values). Happinessat the workplace is hypothesized to be influenced by some factors such asemployment status, income, friendship, and work activities. The relationship between dependent and independent variable is moderatedby cultural values.
2.1 Employment Status Employment status refers to anemployment-related condition in which an employee is being held (Foroutan,2011). Individuals’ happiness be contingent on theiremployment status (Frey & Stutzer, 2000b; full-time or part-time employment (Berger, 2009)). Employees generally seek for employment security (Silla, De Cuyper,Gracia, Peiró, & DeWitte, 2009). Unemployment status makes people unhappy (Escott & Buckner, 2013).
Their experience of unemployment or fear of unemployment can decreasehappiness (Ohtake, 2012). Particularly, individuals who value family relationships may be unhappierwith unemployment status if it causes their family difficulties (Campbell, 2013Many studies have confirmed that unemployment affects happiness, but part-timeand full-time employment that may affect employee happiness are needed to beinspected further (Berger, 2009). A study of maternal employment and happiness byBerger (2009) states that part-time employees have lower life satisfaction thanfull-time employees. However, voluntary part-time employees who select not to work full-timeare at an advantage than those of full-time employees (Nikolova & 2.2 Income Income comprises the remunerationand salary earned by an individual (Mathur, 2012). A study on income and happiness by Caporale, Georgellis, Tsitsianis andYin (2009) approves that there is a strong affiliation between a person’srevenue and life satisfaction.
Thisis because people who have higher revenue have more chances to buy desiredgoods and amenities (Frey ; Stutzer, 2002; Even though people who gain higher income seem to be happier people, theirhappiness 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 , 2014; Oshio & Kobayashi, 2011).
They are likely to be happy when they perceive income equality (DePrycker, 2010). Oshio and Kobayashi (2011) contend that individuals who experience incomeinequality are less happy. In contrast, Hopkins (2008) reasons that income inequality can positivelyaffect happiness of some competitive people who gain more income than others. This is because competitive people try to make the difference betweentheir 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 EmploymentStatus Income Friendship Work Activities Happiness at the Workplace CulturalValues 2.3 FriendshipFriendship is defined as a closeaffiliation among friends (Huang, 2008). People express their friendship through feelingand behavior (Huang, 2008; Spencer, 2012). Friendship at the workplace refers to individuals’ relationship with theirpeers, assistants, and superiors (Austin, 2009; Lee, 2005; Mao & Hsieh, 2012). Friendship at the workplace has a positive impact on organizationalproductivity and employees’ work attitudes towards their jobs (Song, 2005).
Many studies show the link between interpersonal relationship andhappiness (Demir & Davidson, 2013; Søraker, 2012; Westaway, Olorunju, & Rai, 2007). Positive friendship not only effects happiness of employees but alsoaffects yield (Bader et al., 2013). Friendship groups are more committed to their work and lead to higherproduction (Dotan, 2007). Employees who have meaningful friendship are happier than those who arealone (Snow, 2013). Consistently, Wright (2005) asserts that lonely people are less joyful. People who have significant friendships may be happy because good friendsare willing to behave positively to each other (Simon, Judge, &Halvorsen-Ganepola, 2010).
It should be highlighted that happy employees are mostly sociable peoplewho have more friends (Ganser, 2012). 2.4 Work Activities Work activities are the activitiesor duties that are performed by workers (Siccama, 2006). Some workers are happy with their work activities while some employeeshave negative experiences at work (Siegall & McDonald, 2004). Individual could have different levels of happiness during different workhappenings (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 meaningfulactions. Thus, supervisors should know how to manage the meaning of work foremployees (Cleavenger & Munyon, 2013; Vasconcelos, 2008). If employees perceive significance and meaning of work, they may be happyto 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 downfrom one generation to the next” (Hassan, 2011, p. 111). A study by Downie, Koestner and Chua (2007) presents that cultural valuescan support an individual’s self-determination to the happiness in diversecountries. The study shows the mean level differences of happiness across countries(Downie et al.
, 2007). Similarly, this paper assumed that the above-mentioned factors (employmentstatus, income, friendship, and work activities) do not have the same effect toemployee 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) valuedifferent things (Goos, 2012; Lee, Scandura & Sharif, 2014). Western cultural values are mainly focused on individualism that viewseach 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 personalgoals (Rego & Cunha, 2009). Hence, their happiness is based on personal factors (e.g. personalattitudes and beliefs) (Ram, 2010).
Eastern cultural values are emphasized on collectivism (Shao , 2014). In collectivistic cultures, group goals are more important rather thanindividual goals (Zhang, Van Doorn, & Leeflang, 2014). They believe that an person’s individual goals should not threaten groupsynchronization.
3. Discussion Employees are happy when they areunderstanding stable employment (Scherer, 2009). Permanent employees seem to be more satisfied with their jobs thantemporary employees (Ong & Shah, 2012; Scherer, 2009). Sora, Caballer and Peiró (2010) maintain that temporary employees perceivea high level of job insecurity. Unstable employment not only makes employees feel unhappy but also affectsthe rate of employee turnover and organizational performance (Dike, 2011). This is because temporary employees are more likely to intend to leavetheir 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) gainhigher income (Shlay, Weinraub, Harmon, & Tran, 2004). They may be happier than those who have lower employment status and gainlower income (Caporale et al., 2009). Furthermore, it should be noted that self-employed people seem to be moresatisfied with work than those who are employed in organizations (Benz &Frey, 2008). Employed and self-employed people have different work processes that mighthave an impact to their happiness level (Benz & Frey, 2008).
As a result, this paper views work activities as one of happinessconstructs. 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 , 2008). An understanding of factors contributing to meaning of work is useful forthe organizations to provide employees with meaningful work (Michaelson, Pratt,Grant, & Dunn, 2014). In addition to the three happiness constructs mentioned earlier, peoplevalue friendship at the workplace as important to their work life (Mao, Hsieh,& Chen, 2012). Friendship at the workplace facilitates the exchange of resources andideas 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 theworkplace are less likely to leave their jobs (Dike, 2011). However, Mao and Hsieh (2012) argue that employees with different worklevels 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 offriendship as well. Maintaining employee happiness is necessary to ensure accessibility ofworkforce (Asiyabi & Mirabi, 2012; Lindorff, 2010). According to the changing world of effort, most employees change theirjobs several times (Clarke, 2007; Sun & Wang, 2011). Many organizations have problems retaining the competent employees whohave high potential to achieve organizational goals (Chaudhry & Shah, 2011;Kumar & Dhamodaran, 2013). It can be said that enhancing happiness at the workplace is a challengefor take full advantage of organizational productivity (Chaudhry & Shah,2011). 4. Conclusion In this paper, the relationshipbetween independent variables and happiness at the workplace is assumed to bemoderated by cultural values. Employee happiness may change in different cultural contexts.
The research on happiness issues should be discovered further to includevarious cultures as well as numerous types of organizations (Sloan, 2005). Since the notion of happiness is crucial for organizational performanceand efficiency, HR managers need to design and manage a workplace to enhanceemployee 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 anindividual’s work and life.