The Role of Positive Affect in Worker Productivity

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 2
Words: 551
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor


In the article, Lucas and Diener discuss a correlation between employees’ happiness and productivity. They analyze a significant body of research about the subject to define whether there is a relation between the two variables, which, as they note, is elusive and desirable (Lucas, R. E., & Diener, E., 2003). The authors divide their analysis into two parts, the first focusing on defining and measuring happiness and the second focusing on defining and evaluating productivity. This approach allows them to critically examine existing hypotheses about the impact of happiness on job productivity. Authors argue that the term “happiness” often lacks precision, and when it comes to scientific argument, multiple factors, such as the timeframe of the measurement, should be considered. They also suggest that employee satisfaction can be of an affective or cognitive kind, which implies further implications for the correlation analysis.

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Problem Identification

Several problems challenge the analysis of the correlation between an employee’s happiness and their work productivity. First, the authors highlight that such correlation is “desirable,” which means people are prone to make a subjective assumption in favor of the imprecise statement that a happy worker is more productive. They mention different halo effects, in which happy people are considered to be more productive and are liked more, without objective productivity evaluation (Lucas & Diener, 2003). Further, the authors emphasize the necessity of measuring happiness and distinguishing between short-term emotions, long-term moods, and cognitive evaluation of an employee’s well-being to establish an existing relationship between happiness and productivity. Lucas and Diener suggest that even though employee’s productivity can also be defined in other various ways, which should be considered in the evaluation. The productivity of an individual worker, their satisfaction with the work environment, and organizational citizenship are three terms with ambiguous relations between them. Thus, the effect of happiness on a worker’s productivity is complex for evaluation, as too many factors have to be considered, apart from a lack of precision in defining employee happiness.


Lucas and Diener critically evaluate hypotheses about the relation between happiness and employee productivity. They criticize definitions of “happiness” for their lack of precision; they also emphasize the importance of emotions, which can have specific action tendencies (something less common for positive than for negative emotions) (Lucas & Diener, 2003). Summarizing multiple studies about employee satisfaction and productivity, the authors argue that the link between happiness and productivity is too complex and volatile to confirm the immediate impact of happiness on productivity.


The article highlights implications arising from uncertain definitions of the word “happiness,” The authors mention several ways employees’ well-being can be measured. Qualitative and quantitative interviews can reveal how a person feels about their working environment. While Lucas and Diener argue that affective well-being differs from cognitive judgment, both aspects relate to one’s positive attitude towards life. The authors question a person’s attitude to their job because of an unclear connection between overall life satisfaction and satisfaction with their job; it is arguable that there can be a universal “happy worker” concept. Simultaneously, researchers and employers can evaluate employees’ happiness within systems of concrete enterprises. As negative emotions are known to affect people’s performance and behavior, it is arguable that while there is no proven connection between happiness and productivity, minimizing negative emotions should contribute to productivity.


Lucas, R. E., & Diener, E. (2003). The happy worker: Hypotheses about the role of positive affect in worker productivity. M. R. Barrick & A. M. Ryan (Eds.), Personality and work: Reconsidering the role of personality in organizations (pp. 30-59). Jossey-Bass.