Measuring happiness at work

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Lutterbie & Pryce-Jones. Measuring happiness at work. Assessment & Development Matters Vol 5 No 2 Summer 2013


  • Measuring happiness at workSimon Lutterbie & Jessica Pryce-Jones

    Happiness at work is a mindset which enables actions to maximise performance and achievepotential. This article presents a 10-item scale for measuring happiness at work, within the context ofthe practitioner-focused iPPQ, and presents correlational evidence of the relationship betweenhappiness at work and performance outcomes. The 10-item scale complements the 25-item iPPQ,providing a useful tool for measuring and increasing an organisations, teams or individualshappiness at work.

    HAPPINESS at work is a mindset which enables actions to maximise performanceand achieve potential. It is characterised by broadening behaviour (Frederickson,1998) and is related to the state of working towards a goal with the belief that it willbe achieved (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). Happiness at Work is a form of mindsethappiness: it is relatively stable over a period of weeks to months (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon& Schkade, 2005), but also sensitive to change through environmental factors andfocused interventions (Kurtz & Lyubomirsky, 2008; Seligman et al., 2005).

    There is widespread support for the benefits of positive mental states (Lyubomirsky,King & Diener, 2005), and happiness at work relates to a number of positive psychologyconstructs. General happiness is ones overall evaluation of the quality of their life(Diener, 2000); it provides a more global evaluation, whereas happiness at work isspecifically relevant to work. Well-being is a more diffuse concept, including suchelements as mental health (e.g. Ryan & Deci, 2001), although it has also been applied tothe workplace (e.g. Sparks et al., 2001). Job satisfaction is a classic attempt to quantifyemployees feelings towards their work (Brief & Weiss, 2002); however, the link betweenjob satisfaction and performance is still unclear (e.g. Judge et al., 2001).

    Engagement, generally defined as a feeling of maximum effort and commitment toones job (e.g. Kahn, 1990), is the concept most closely related to happiness at work. TheJob DemandsResources (JDR) model describes engagement occurring when theindividual has sufficient job and personal resources to meet current job demands (e.g.Bakker, 2009). We hypothesise that happiness at work represents the feeling theindividual has, and can continue to develop, the necessary resources, but this predictionis still under investigation.

    Measuring happiness at workThe iPPQ (Edmunds et al., 2009) is a practitioner-focused measure that collects feedbackon 25 specific elements relevant to happiness at work. The original items and scale weregenerated based on focus groups and interviews with general managers, senior leaders,and MBA students (Edmunds et al., 2009).

    We hypothesised that a shorter scale could be constructed from the 25 items of theiPPQ. This would provide a general measure of happiness at work to complement theiPPQs ability to identify specific workplace issues. Together, the short- and long-formscales combine a headline score for happiness at work with the specific recommendationsfor improving an organisations, teams or individuals happiness at work.

    Assessment & Development Matters Vol. 5 No. 2 Summer 2013 13

  • 14 Assessment & Development Matters Vol. 5 No. 2 Summer 2013

    MethodParticipantsN=32,606 responded to an online questionnaire. The sample population was gender-balanced (50.8 per cent female, 47.1 per cent male); geographically diverse (>90nationalities, 80 countries of residence represented); and primarily of working age (92.3per cent aged 2060 years).

    Measures and analysisParticipants responded to an online questionnaire consisting of basic demographicinformation, the 25-item iPPQ, and self-report outcome measures for preliminaryanalysis. A principal components analysis was conducted to identify which items loadedmost strongly onto the core component of happiness at work. Correlational analyses werethen conducted to test the relationship between happiness at work and performanceindicators.

    Item Loading

    Would you recommend working at your organisation to a friend? 0.287How much do you wish to leave your current job?* -0.283Do you feel you are doing something worthwhile? 0.250Do you trust the vision of your organisations leaders? 0.247How motivated do you feel while at work? 0.234How much do you like your job? 0.234Can you raise issues that are important to you? 0.219How well does your job fit with your initial expectations of it? 0.218Do you lack interest in your work?* -0.218How fair is the culture at work? 0.213Do you agree that you often feel a strong burst of positive emotion at work? 0.213How much do you feel your work has a positive impact on the world? 0.205Do you appreciate the values that your organisation stands for? 0.200How much do you feel you are living up to your potential? 0.200Do you agree that your stakeholders give you positive feedback? 0.197Are your views ignored?* -0.197How much does your boss respect you? 0.185Do you have a sense of getting things done at work? 0.182How much in control do you feel over your day-to-day activities? 0.177How much do you like your colleagues? 0.132How much do your colleagues respect you? 0.118How efficiently are you able to get things done at work? 0.113How insecure do you feel in your current job? -0.112How effective do you think you are at your job?* 0.103Are you resilient when it comes to coping with difficult times? 0.080

    Table 1: PCA loadings for the 25 iPPQ items on central happiness at work component. Itemsselected for 10-item scale are italicised.

  • Assessment & Development Matters Vol. 5 No. 2 Summer 2013 15

    ResultsTable 1 displays component loadings for all 25 items, highlighting in italics the 10 itemsselected for the core scale. The 10-item happiness at work scale displayed good internalreliability (Cronbachs alpha = .92), and removing any single item did not improve thescales reliability.

    Happiness at work was significantly correlated with respondents self-reportedpercentage of time spent on task, r(26146) = .47, p < .0001; percentage of time feelingenergized, r(25661) = .67, p < .0001; and percentage time feeling engaged, r(25697) =.64, p < .0001. While only a preliminary analysis based on self-report data, thesecorrelations support a positive relationship between Happiness at Work and work-relevantperformance indicators.

    DiscussionHappiness at work is a mindset which enables actions to maximise performance andachieve potential. The iPPQ (Edmunds et al., 2009) includes 25-items focusing on specificwork elements relevant to happiness at work, and a 10-item headline score. Happinessat work is positively correlated with the percentage of time respondents report being ontask and feeling energised and engaged at work.

    The analysis presented in this article represents an important step towards acomprehensive model for measuring and building happiness at work. The currentanalysis relies on self-report data; future analysis will test a predictive relationship betweenHappiness at Work and externally measured worker and business performance indicators.Future research will also verify the efficacy of focused interventions which have beendeveloped to build happiness at work based on the specific work elements covered withinthe 25-item iPPQ.

    The authorsJessica Pryce-Jones is CEO of iOpener Ltd and Dr Simon Lutterbie is head of research.

    Conflict of interestThe research was funded and conducted by iOpener Ltd.

    ReferencesBakker, A.B. (2009). Building engagement in the workplace. In R.J. Burke & C.L.

    Cooper (Eds.), The peak performing organization, pp.5072. Oxon: Routledge.Brief, A.P. & Weiss, H.M. (2002). Organizational behavior: Affect in the workplace,

    Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 279307.Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a

    national index. American Psychologist, 55, 3443.Edmunds, L., Lindsay, J. & Pryce-Jones, J. (2009). The process of change in a charity with

    challenge. Poster presented at the 2nd Applied Positive Psychology Conference,Warwick, UK.

    Fredrickson, B.L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology,2, 300319.

    Judge, T.A., Thoreson, C.J., Bono, J.E. & Patton,G.K. (2001). The job satisfaction jobperformance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin,3, 376407.

  • Kahn, W.A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement anddisengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 392724.

    Kurtz, J.M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Towards a durable happiness. In S.L. Lopez(Ed.), Positive psychology: Pursuing human flourishing. Westport, CT: Praeger.

    Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect:Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803855.

    Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K.M. & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: Thearchitecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111131.

    Ryan, M.R. & Deci, E.L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of theresearch on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52,141166.

    Seligman, M.E.P., Steen, T.A., Park,N. & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychologyprogress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410421.

    Sheldon, K.M. & Elliot, A.J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinalwell-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76,482497.

    Sparks, K., Faragher, B. & Cooper, C.L. (2001). Well-being and occupational health inthe 21st century workplace. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Pscyhology, 74,489509.

    16 Assessment & Development Matters Vol. 5 No. 2 Summer 2013


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