Happiness at Work. Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success

Alexandre Momparler , Pedro Carmona and Francisco Climent (University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 28 June 2011



Momparler, A., Carmona, P. and Climent, F. (2011), "Happiness at Work. Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success", Management Decision, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 1028-1032. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741111143676



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Happiness (“the H word”) sounds so uneconomic, so wishy‐washy and up in the air that the author feels real embarrassment when she has to use the term in her conversations with top management or CEOs in the companies that she visits. But despite these feelings, she persists as she really believes that “happiness” is the word which best defines that “something” which we need to be truly to be successful in our working lives; successful in a far broader sense than financial terms or promotions, but including these two as well. From the perspective of the person who works for a company, the book explains clearly and concisely how we can increase our levels of happiness with the resultant benefits in nearly all aspects of our lives. The author also claims that most of the control over our own happiness levels is in our own hands if we so wish and is not dependent on the actions of other. Throughout the book, many interesting testimonies and personal experiences are provided, from CEOs to floor cleaners, regarding the different aspects of achieving happiness through real life experience. From the perspective of the company it is shown that “happiness” is much more than a happy‐hippy term, pie in the sky, and brings it right down to earth, that is, down to the day to day reality of the work place.

The happiness of the workers is directly connected with the quality of their performance. “The happiest at work are 47 per cent more productive than their least happy colleagues”, those who are happiest at work take only 1.5 days off sick a year, in the USA and the UK the average employee takes six days, “top happiness group have 180 per cent more energy than the least happiest”. These are just some of the statistics, which have been collected over a four‐year period and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the happiness levels of the company workers have real and direct effects on the positive functioning of the company.

These results are in line with the findings of studies that establish an association between the levels of job stress and employee turnover intention (Chen et al., 2010) and other studies emphasizing the importance of job placement and social integration schemes (Sanchis and Ribeiro, 2010).

In the first chapter, the questions “why happiness at work”, and “why now” are put forward. The author claims that, due to the economic crisis, companies are beginning to look again at all aspects of company life: what they expect of their workers and what their workers are asking of their companies. The author says that happiness in the workplace had not been studied to any great degree and that it is a wider concept than either “job satisfaction” or “engagement” which have already been studied in depth (Comeche and Loras, 2010; Shiu and Yu, 2010). Happiness includes both these concepts and much more.

For those “doubting Thomases”, the author and her team, which included Dr Laurel Edward spent four years collecting statistical data and investigating to show the connections between happiness and all the positive advantages experienced by those who are happy at work. The results of their studies show that there are five critical (the 5Cs) factors, that make up the core of the structure, which defines happiness at work. The 5Cs are:

  1. 1.

    Contribution: is about the effort you make and your perception of it.

  2. 2.

    Conviction: is about the motivation you have whatever the circumstances.

  3. 3.

    Culture: is about how well you feel you fit in at work.

  4. 4.

    Commitment: is about the extent to which you are engaged with your work.

  5. 5.

    Confidence: is about the sense of belief you have in yourself and your job.

These are the core structures but there are three other attributes, which connect to all of these. They are “pride”, “trust” and “recognition”; the pride and trust that the worker has in the organization, and the recognition the person receives from the organization for the work he/she does.

According to the author, “contribution” is the most important of all the core structures and she divides it into eight different parts, four of which include “achieving your goals”, “having clear objectives”, “raising issues that important to you” and “feeling secure in your job”. These four work from the inside out, which means that the individuals have a certain amount of control over and they can be pro‐active on them. They also move from the more concrete to the more abstract, from achieving goals to feeling secure in your job. The other four, which work from the outside in, are those where we interact with others. As none of us live in a vacuum, the result is that we are constantly interacting with others and whether those interactions are positive or negative, they will have a strong effect on our work. The four are: “being listened to”, “receiving positive feedback”, “getting respect from your boss” and “feeling appreciated at work”. Although these may seem to be out of our control and totally dependent on our boss or the company, it is argued that “feelings and behavior are catching and when you consistently model positive behavior, your co‐workers and colleagues will start to reflect the same back to you. “Contribution” is something we all want to do (we are hardwired to be industrious), we have chosen to be in the company and contributing fully to it makes us happier.

“Conviction” consists of four parts: “being motivated at work”, “believing that you are effective and efficient”, “feeling resilient when times are tough” and “perceiving that your work has a positive effect on the world. The author makes the point that conviction is the engine of contribution; it is the motivation, which makes you keep going, when things are not going so well. Motivation, efficiency, effectiveness, and resilience can all be cultivated on a daily basis and seen as steps on the way to achieving objectives and goals (Lin, 2009; Peris‐Ortiz, 2009; Rodríguez and Santos, 2009; Saunders et al., 2009; Thach and Kidwell, 2009; Valle and Castillo, 2009; Yang, 2009). The last part is our need as human beings to feel that we are contributing to make the world a better place.

The “Culture” of an organization, unlike contribution and conviction is something that the individual can have only a very small input and even the opposite may be true where the culture of the company will have a positive or negative effect on the individual. So it is important to choose well, making sure that you are going to be happy within the culture of the company you are about to enter. It may not be always possible to choose but it is very important, to take this into account. The “Culture” includes “the values of the company”, “the atmosphere between your colleagues”, “having a fair ethos at work”, “being in control of your activities” and “whether or not you really like your job”.

“Commitment” comes from the belief that we are doing something worthwhile. As human beings, we all want to know and feel that we are making a difference. This belief gives us strong bursts of positive energy, which makes us happier at work. Those who have this belief:

  • Find their job 30 per cent more worthwhile

  • Are 36 per cent more interested in what they do

  • Believe 50 per cent more in the vision of their organization

  • Feel 50 per cent more bursts of positive energy.

This desire for “meaning” may come from seemingly small things such as Lucy Studholmn, a friend of the author, who says “There's beauty and meaning in a well‐made bed, a bed is a place of intimacy, a place of birth, death, solace and refuge”. What could be more meaningful than that? Senator Loran Legarda from the Philippines says that she has a passion to save the world and to do something now. The elements to commitment are “doing something worthwhile”, “being interested in your job”, believing in the vision of your organization” and “feeling strong bursts of positive energy”.

The last of the Cs is “Confidence”, although statistically not as important as the other Cs, the others depend on it for where would you find the motivation without confidence? Jessica explains the difference between confidence and over confidence and gives us tools to boost our confidence and performance such as “self‐talk”, “centering” and “imagery”. Having self‐belief is also very important part of confidence and the book explains how to develop it and maintain it.

From a historical perspective, the happiness of the individual in the company was never given the minimum of consideration except in maybe a few utopist places. A similar attitude to the health, safety, and welfare was prevalent in the past but now it is accepted by the vast majority that this should be given priority as one of the objectives in any company and that it benefits all concerned. The other objectives are, to produce a quality product, to provide quality service to the customer, the capacity of the workers, etc. This book is breaking new ground and saying to both employees and employers that happiness at work is of critical importance. The author believes that the time has come to place “the happiness of the workers” on the same footing as the rest of the main objectives of any enterprise. When this is done with the right attitude, and not just used as another method of manipulating the staff, then the contribution of the workers in the workplace will excel and the results for the workers and the company (profits included) can only be positive.


Chen, M.F., Lin, C.P. and Lien, G.Y. (2010), “Modelling job stress as a mediating role in predicting turnover intention”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 31 No. 8, pp. 132745.

Comeche, J.M. and Loras, J. (2010), “The influence of variables of attitude on collective entrepreneurship”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 2438.

Lin, W.B. (2009), “Exploration of lead factors affecting service recovery”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 29 No. 11, pp. 152946.

Peris‐Ortiz, M. (2009), “An analytical model for human resource management as an enabler of organizational renewal: a framework for corporate entrepreneurship”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 46179.

Rodríguez, M.J. and Santos, F.J. (2009), “Women nascent entrepreneurs and social capital in the process of firm creation”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 4564.

Sanchis, J.R. and Ribeiro, D. (2010), “Contingency factors on the success of services for social integration and job placement schemes”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 33957.

Saunders, M.N.K., Altinay, L. and Riordan, K. (2009), “The management of post‐merger cultural integration: implications from the hotel industry”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 29 No. 10, pp. 135975.

Shiu, Y.M. and Yu, T.W. (2010), “Internal marketing, organisational culture, job satisfaction, and organisational performance in non‐life insurance”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 793809.

Thach, L. and Kidwell, R.E. (2009), “HR practices in US and Australian family wineries: cultural contrasts and performance impact”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 21940.

Valle, I.D. and Castillo, M.A.S. (2009), “Human capital and sustainable competitive advantage: an analysis of the relationship between training and performance”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 13963.

Yang, J.T. (2009), “Individual attitudes to learning and sharing individual and organisational knowledge in the hospitality industry”, Service Industries Journal, Vol. 29 No. 12, pp. 172343.

Related articles