Conceptualizing and measuring well-being at work

Cynthia D Fisher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


[Extract] Happiness and wellbeing are important to people both in general and in the workplace, and have implications for mental and physical health (Diener, 2000; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). Rath and Harter (2010) identify five domains comprising overall wellbeing, and conclude that career wellbeing is probably the most important of the five for most people. Organizational scholars have long been interested in job satisfaction and related positive attitudes and experiences involving work, jobs, and employers. This interest has intensified following the rise of positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), which directs attention toward flourishing and vibrant mental health rather than merely the absence of stress, mental illness, and suffering. Organizational scholars have followed this lead with streams of research called positive organizational scholarship (Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003; Cameron & Spreitzer, 2011) and positive organizational behavior (Luthans, 2002; Nelson & Cooper, 2007), as well as a great deal of research on engagement and on positive moods and emotions at work. Our understanding of the antecedents and consequences of happiness and wellbeing in the workplace is growing rapidly (Fisher, 2010). The purpose of this chapter is to consider what might be meant by wellbeing at work. Many constructs and measures potentially fall under this umbrella, and wellbeing at work has been operationalized in a wide variety of ways. I will describe some existing conceptualizations and definitions, discuss a variety of approaches to measuring these phenomena, and then recommend means of both broadening and deepening the conceptualization and assessment of wellbeing in the workplace. I begin with the general psychology literature on the meaning of wellbeing, and then apply insights from that literature to the more specific domain of workplace wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWellbeing
Subtitle of host publicationA Complete Reference Guide, Volume III, Work and Wellbeing
EditorsPeter Chen, Cary L. Cooper
Place of PublicationChichester
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)978-1-118-60836-4, 978-1-118-71621-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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