11.06.2021 | Blog 5 |

Job Happiness: what is exactly meant by this and why does it matter?

| Being happy is an important prerequisite for a fulfilled life. Since people spend a large part of their time at work (Ortiz-Ospina, 2020), it is not only important to be happy in private, but also at work.

A recent study by XING in November 2020 revealed that one in four people in German-speaking countries (DACH) is unhappy in their current job. An international comparison shows that Germany ranks 17th out of 153 countries according to the World Happiness Report 2020. This is a good position, but in terms of happiness there is still room for improvement.

This blog post will explain what constitutes job happiness, why it is of enormous importance for candidates and companies, and what needs to be taken into account in order to promote job happiness in the long term.


What is meant by job happiness?

Job happiness is a very abstract term that is difficult to define. The reason why no generally valid explanation of this term can be given so far is obvious: job happiness is strongly based on subjective perception and evaluation. Among the many factors that can be associated with job happiness are, for example, respectful treatment, appreciation or individual responsibility. 

In research, job happiness is defined with the help of various so-called constructs. The term “construct” is a psychological term that is used as an auxiliary mental construct to explore a certain characteristic (e.g., intelligence) that is not observable (Stangl, 2021). Fisher lists the following key constructs:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Job involvement
  • Success and vigor
  • Flow and intrinsic motivation
  • Affect at work

The listed constructs have one thing in common: they refer to positive attitudes and experiences such as feelings of joy or satisfaction as well as flow states (Fisher, 2010). Flow states are short-term experiences at work that result from intrinsic work motivation, enjoyment of work, and complete absorption in a particular activity (Bakker 2005, 2008) and have been shown to make employees happier and more productive.

However, the aforementioned constructs differ in the environment in which they occur, the duration and stability in which they persist, and finally, their specific content (Fisher, 2010). Other such constructs are known among researchers and continue to be studied, including autonomy in different job-specific concerns, task variety, or positive feedback (Morgeson & Humphrey, 2006).


What effects does job happiness have on everyday working life?

The effects that can go hand in hand with job happiness are very diverse, but above all they are equally beneficial for candidates and companies.

On the one hand, there is the increased creativity and proactive behavior that results from a positive mood. Furthermore, interpersonal conflicts are avoided and the cooperation among employees is positively strengthened. Teamwork becomes more pleasant, motivating and harmonious and has a lasting and productive effect on the results.

Studies have also shown that employee satisfaction has a positive impact on customer satisfaction (Fisher, 2010). This is because satisfied employees often provide better service, which is often perceived by customers as being of higher quality. This not only increases productivity at the employee level, but also a company’s profits.

On the other hand, a happy and satisfied attitude towards the job ensures a lower turnover of employees. Employees are also more productive and take fewer sick days. Those who are happy and satisfied with their job are, for example, less susceptible to mental illnesses such as burnout or depression, work more productively and conscientiously, and do not intend to change jobs in the short term (Fisher, 2010). 


What do you need to keep in mind to ensure that employees are happy and satisfied?

To ensure that job happiness lasts in the long run, it is important to promote some essential aspects:

Utilization of natural strengths and attention to personal preferences

Just because a candidate is particularly good at something does not mean that he or she will want to practice it every day. Consideration of personal preferences is therefore of particular relevance in assigning employees tasks they like to perform. Likewise, the natural strengths of a candidate must also be taken into account.


Positive work environment / team fit

Understandably, a positive work environment promotes the feeling of being happy and satisfied with the job. This includes not only helpful and attentive colleagues, but also trusting superiors. The feeling of fitting into the team and being needed releases positive feelings that can sustainably increase job happiness.

tructured thinking is an essential hiring criterion. It is required in many different situations and enables people to perceive their environment in a more structured way. This results in many positive advantages, which promote a fast, analytical and efficient way of working.

Within the Hartman Value Profile, the ability of structured thinking can be measured. Candidates are asked to understand, evaluate and then arrange 18 statements in terms of their own value system.

High scores in the dimension “Structured Thinking” suggest a strong strategic analysis ability (ability). Additionally, high scores ascribe a strong “will to analyze” (willingness) to the candidates, which indicates a keen process orientation and systematic working (Vogel, 2018). Since such skills are crucial in the working world, which is not least evident in job profiles, structured thinking is one of the essential competencies taken into account in the HVP and at the same time considered as a popular hiring requirement.


Assignment of responsibility / autonomy

The assignment of responsibility for specific areas or decisions also plays an important role. Here, natural strengths can provide further information as to whether a candidate is particularly suitable for the respective position of responsibility. The autonomy gained not only strengthens the candidate’s self-confidence, but also his or her sense of belonging to the company.


Appreciation of individual successes

Regular appreciation of individual successes in the form of positive feedback increasingly strengthens employee motivation. Regular feedback rounds with constructive criticism can also contribute to employee development and give the employee a feeling of being valued.


Further training opportunities

Stagnation in professional development often leads to job dissatisfaction. For employees who want to continue their professional development, it is essential that the company offers training opportunities. The positive effects of training opportunities are felt on both sides. Employees feel respected and that they belong to the company, while the company benefits from the training.



Job happiness is a key driver of productivity, success, health and good interpersonal relationships. The benefits for employees and companies that result from long-lasting job happiness are obvious.

In the future, more and more attention should be paid to establishing and maintaining job happiness. Those who pursue sustainable recruitment should pay attention to ensuring that employees are satisfied and happy in their jobs in the long term.

Job happiness will also become an important area of research in the future. The reason for this is the increased interest in positive psychology, which also deals with happiness and satisfaction in the job (Fisher, 2010).


Author: Dimitra Sismanidou, June 2021
Copyright: IAM Global GmbH



Bakker, A.B. (2005). Flow Among Music Teachers and their Students: The Crossover of Peak Experiences. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66(1), 26-44.

Bakker, A.B. (2008). The Work-Related Flow Inventory: Construction and Initial Validation of the WOLF. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72(3), 400-414.

Fisher, C. D. (2010). Happiness at Work. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 384-412.

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., Sachs, J. and De Neve, J-E. (eds.) (2020). World Happiness Report 2020. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Morgeson, F.P. and Humphrey, S.E. (2006). The Work Design Questionnaire (WDQ): Developing and Validating a Comprehensive Measure for Assessing Job Design and the Nature of Work. Journal Applied Psychology, 91, 1321-1339.

New Work SE (2020). Neue XING Studie: Jeder Vierte ist unzufrieden mit Jobsituation. 42 Prozent müssen im Job eine Rolle spielen. New Work SE, abegerufen von: https://www.new-work.se/de/newsroom/pressemitteilungen/2020-neue-xing-studie-jeder-vierte-ist-unzufrieden-mit-jobsituation-(Zuletzt besucht am: 02. Juni 2021).

Ortiz-Ospina, E., Giattino, C. and Roser, M. (2020). Time Use. Published online at OurWorldInData.org, retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/time-use (Zuletzt besucht am 08. Juni 2021).

Stangl, W. (2021). Konstrukt. Online Lexikon für Psychologie und Pädagogik, abegrufen von: https://lexikon.stangl.eu/87/konstrukt (Zuletzt besucht am 08. Juni 2021).