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Abstract

The notion of happiness at work is becoming increasingly important for human resource management research. Despite the widespread existence of different constructs that capture positive attitudes, a comprehensive measure of individual-level happiness is necessary. Starting from Fisher’s conceptualisation of happiness at work, Salas-Vallina, Alegre, and Fernández developed a 31-item scale to measure happiness at work. This scale accurately captures the different dimensions of happiness in the workplace context. However, it is a long scale. Shorter scales provide major improvements in efficiency and efficacy. Our study, conducted with two diversified samples, conceptualises and measures happiness at work. Following the steps suggested by Stanton, Sinar, Balzer, and Smith and Kacmar, Crawford, Carlson, Ferguson, and Whitten, we provide a shortened version of the happiness at work scale, while maintaining its psychometric properties. We argue that this new measurement scale presents a high statistical potential to widely capture positive attitudes at work and opens undeveloped research possibilities.
HAPPINESS AT WORK: DEVELOPING A SHORTER MEASURE
Salas-Vallina, A; Alegre, J.
University of Valencia
andres.salas@uv.es; joaquin.alegre@uv.es
Happiness at work, positive attitudes, quality of life at work, scale development,
scale reduction
Abstract
The notion of happiness at work is becoming increasingly important for HRM research.
Despite the widespread existence of different constructs that capture positive attitudes, a
comprehensive measure of individual-level happiness is necessary. Starting from
Fisher's (2010) conceptualisation of happiness at work, Salas-Vallina et al. (2017a)
developed a 31-item scale to measure happiness at work. This scale accurately captures
the different dimensions of happiness in the workplace context. However, it is a long
scale. Shorter scales provide major improvements in efficiency and efficacy. Our study,
conducted with two diversified samples, conceptualizes and measures happiness at
work. Following the steps suggested by Stanton et al. (2002) and Kacmar et al. (2014),
we provide a shortened version of the happiness at work scale, while maintaining its
psychometric properties. We argue that this new measurement scale presents a high
statistical potential to widely capture positive attitudes at work and opens undeveloped
research possibilities.
1. Introduction
Happiness is a high-priority life goal (Diener, 2000). Given the many benefits of
happiness, it has been in the focus of attention of researchers for many decades
(Veenhoven, 1991; Atkinson and Hall, 2011), and currently, well-being and positive
attitudes such as job satisfaction, commitment or happiness are a subject of interest for
researches in management (Kolodinsky et al., 2017; Lee et al., 2017). But it is also a
subject of interest for companies, which make an effort to invest in its employee's
happiness, promoting positive attitudes that result in beneficial outcomes (Smith, 2012).
It was Maslow (1954) who initially introduced the concept of Positive Psychology to
examine the notion of quality of life. Later, Seligman (1999) underlined the need to
respond to the 'traditional' perspective of psychology that lies in repairing damage using
an illness model. He suggested that promoting strengths is a more powerful weapon of
human functioning (Seligman, 2002) that benefit key work organisational outcomes.
For example, Meyer et al. (2002) and Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) showed that job
satisfaction reduces absenteeism and improves job performance. Harrison et al. (2006)
found that positive mood at work improves job effectiveness and cooperation.
Fredrickson (2001) evidenced that positive emotions facilitate learning and teamwork.
Spence et al. (2014) examined the connection between feeling grateful and OCB, and
Yang and Hung (2016) found that happier workers are more productive.
However, a history of mismatch between the definitions of different attitudinal
constructs and its measurement is much more frequent than it should be (Fisher, 2010).
Despite this critical need, early academic research on positive attitudes (Edgar et al.,
2015) fail to capture a wide and accurate measurement of positive attitudes. This is
mainly due to the following reasons: First, current investigations do not explain with
enough exactitude the comprehensive phenomenon of happiness, and only use narrow
measures of positive attitudes (Fisher, 2010). Nothing but wide attitudinal measures can
predict broad behaviours, such as organisational citizenship behaviour (Fisher, 1980,
Harrison et al., 2006). Second, the incongruity between definitions and measurement of
these constructs is not resolved, and the problem of overlapping of attitudinal constructs
persists (Warr and Inceoglu, 2011). Third, no previous research has attempted to
understand the unique dimensions of HAW in a practicable way. HAW requires an
ample conceptualisation: 'Happiness at work is an umbrella concept that includes a large
number of constructs' (Fisher, 2010, p. 24). Consequently, a higher-order construct that
includes different positive attitudes will be useful and necessary (Fisher, 2010). Our
research aims to close this gap by providing a feasible and manageable measurement of
HAW. On the basis of Fisher's (2010) definition of HAW, Salas-Vallina et al. (2016a)
developed and validated the original HAW scale. This scale is a wide and accurate tool
to explore positive employee attitudes for both theoretical and practical reasons. It
provides a more integrated perspective of working life and comprises three dimensions:
engagement (passion at work), job satisfaction (evaluations of job characteristics) and
affective organisational commitment (feelings of belonging to the organisation). The
literature provides measures for well-known constructs such as engagement (Schaufeli
and Bakker, 2004) or job satisfaction (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996). However, while
these measures capture positive attitudes, they may be insufficient to determine various
facets of HAW (Fisher, 2010). Interestingly, HAW antecedents have been properly
analysed in previous studies: transformational leadership and organisational learning
capability have been proven to affect HAW (Salas-Vallina et al., 2016a). Research has
also evidenced that HAW affects organisational citizenship behaviour (Salas-Vallina et
al., 2016b). Although HAW implies an advancement in research, we propose that the
HAW original scale needs to be shortened in order for it to be assessed more directly.
The HAW scale has strong psychometric properties, but it comprises 31 items, which is
long and inefficient. Multiple-item scales have benefits such as simplicity of
development, management and scoring. Even though Thomas and Petersen (1982)
exposed the good internal consistency of multiple-item scales, Stanton et al. (2002)
reviewed various problems of multi-item scales. They highlighted the necessity of
shorter scales in organisational research, among other reasons, because measurement
instruments need to be concise to reduce the likelihood of non-response and redundant
items (Baldus et al., 2015). Long scales may promote that respondents feel 'over-
surveyed' (Rogerberg and Luong, 1998), higher refusal rates and more missing data
(Stanton et al.2002). Also Walsh et al. (2016) underlined the usefulness of shortened
scales. We follow 3 key characteristics of item quality to shorten the happiness at work
scale on the basis of accepted methods. The objective of this study, then, is to present
evidence supporting the psychometric properties of a reduced version of the HAW
original measurement scale. Thus, our paper is the first to offer both a short scale of
HAW and a multi-dimensional approach of happiness in the work context. The
shortened version of HAW (SHAW) may truly capture the unique HAW dimensions via
a short questionnaire.
This research is organised as follows. First, we review the concept of HAW and its
antecedents and outcomes. Next, we follow a four-step process to shorten the HAW
scale (creating SHAW) on the basis of the practice of Matthews et al. (2010), Kacmar et
al. (2014), and Sharma et al. (2016). In Step 1, we select the items that compose
SHAW and compare the connection between HAW dimensions. In Step 2, we verify the
factor structure of HAW. In Step 3, we examine the type of correlations between
SHAW and its theoretically proper antecedents. Finally, in Step 4, we explore the
correlations of SHAW and theoretically pertinent outcome constructs. Finally, we
discuss and interpret the results and limitations.
2. Happiness at work (HAW)
The term 'happiness' is not an unambiguous concept and has been defined in different
ways (Kesebir and Diener, 2008). The two main perspectives are the hedonic and the
eudemonic. The hedonic approach refers to pleasant feelings and the affect balance and
is represented by the subjective well-being research (Diener and Seligman, 2004). In
contrast, the eudemonic perspective interprets happiness as doing what is right in order
to have a fulfilling life, and follow self-concordant objectives, indifferent to feelings
(Warr, 2007). Happiness can be defined as global judgements of one’s life, satisfaction
with personal life, the prevalence of positive moods and emotions, and low levels of
negative affect (Kesebir and Diener, 2008).
In the social sciences, happiness is commonly considered in the sense of well-being
(Higgs and Dulewicz, 2014) which is viewed as the core of positive organisational
behaviour (Seligman, 1999). Positive organisational behaviour, emerged as a result of
the shift of attention from the study of negative behaviours to the study of positive ones
(Seligman, 1999). While the prevailing theories considered that the individual is a
passive subject that only responds to stimuli, positive organizational behavior theory
contemplates individuals as decision makers, with judgements, opinions, and the
opportunity to be effective experts (Seligman, 2002). Positive organizational behavior is
defined as 'the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths
and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed
for performance improvement in today's workplace' (Luthans, 2002, p. 59), and is
considered a powerful weapon to promote strengths and to build the best quality of life.
Positive organizational behavior highlights the importance of more focused theory
development and research on the positive traits, states and behaviours of employees in
organisations (Bakker and Demerouti, 2008). Positive organizational behavior research
follows the scientific method to manage the unique problems that human behaviour
presents in all its complexity.
Closely connected with positive organizational behavior theory, the job demands-
resources (JD-R) theory states that job demands (tasks that require effort) lead to
negative attitudes (burnout), and job resources (physical, psychological, social, or
organisational characteristics) result in positive attitudes, such as engagement (Schaufeli
and Bakker, 2004). It is clear that attitudes are crucial for organisations: job satisfaction
reduces absenteeism (Meyer et al., 2002) and improves job performance (Weiss and
Cropanzano, 1996); positive mood at work improves job effectiveness, cooperation
(Harrison et al., 2006), creativity and results (Baas et al., 2008); and positive emotions
facilitate learning and teamwork (Fredrickson, 2001). On a personal level, happy
feelings imply success in life, higher life expectancy and health (Lyubomirsky et al.,
2005). However, the link between attitudes and behaviours is weak because only exist
narrow measures of attitudes (Fisher, 2010), and wide attitudinal measures are required
to better predict behaviours (Fisher, 1980, Harrison et al., 2006). Research also shows
that there are too many measures related to positive attitudes Warr (2007), some of them
overlapping, with a lack of studies that compare the diverse shapes of well-being (Warr
and Inceoglu, 2011). For example, the most well-known positive attitudinal concept, job
satisfaction, refers to evaluations of job conditions (Moorman, 1993). Another example
is engagement, which specifically measures positive affectivity related to work, such as
commitment, enthusiasm, energy, and so forth (Macey and Schneider, 2008).
Involvement exclusively refers to the degree to which the job becomes an essential part
of an individual’s life. Organisational commitment is constrained to measure the
engagement with the company, and apart from cognitive aspects, it can include affective
aspects when measured with the Allen and Meyer (1990) scale.
Because measures of happiness in the work context needed to provide a sufficiently
explanatory measurement, Fisher (2010), identified the need for a measure that
comprised the work itself (affective implication and feelings at work), job
characteristics (evaluative judgements of job characteristics, such as salary, supervision,
career opportunities) and the organisation as a whole (feelings of belonging to the
organisation). A reliable and valid measure of human strengths was needed to
understand how these strengths grow (Seligman, 2002). Harrison et al. (2002)
highlighted the need of a higher order construct to measure positive attitudes,
suggesting at least three well-known and widely checked constructs Salas-Vallina et al.
(2017) developed and statistically validated the HAW scale, beginning with Fisher's
conceptualisation of HAW. They defined HAW on the basis of 3 dimensions (Table 1),
that combine high pleasure and high activation (Xanthopoulou et al., 2012):
engagement, job satisfaction and affective organisational commitment. This broad
perspective is supported by Harrison et al. (2006), who argued that 'when attempting to
understand patterns of work behaviour from attitudes such as job satisfaction and
organisational commitment, researchers should conceptualize the criterion at a high
level of abstraction' (Harrison et al., 2006, p. 316). Our approach lays on a similar
premise to Harrison et al., but also incorporates engagement as an essential employee
attitude. The HAW construct is also sustained by Warr (2013) vitamin model, which
suggests that happiness depends not only on job characteristics (job satisfaction), but
also on whithin-person mental processes (engagement). In addition, literature on
positive attitudes shows that employee attitudes depend on both individual
characteristics and work context. HAW captures both points of view. Wright et al.
drawed up a model in which organisational characteristics (aspects of the organisational
setting, such as organisational-level conflict or role clarity) influence employee
attitudes, which seconds the relevance of HAW.
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Table 1. Happiness at work dimensions
Engagement
The work itself, measured through engagement, aims to capture enthusiasm, passion,
thrill at work, and positive mental states related to vigour, dedication and absorption.
Kahn (1990) defined personal engagement as ‘the harnessing of organisation member’s
selves to their work roles: in engagement, people employ and express themselves
physically, cognitively, emotionally and mentally during role performances’, stating
that it is ‘the behaviour by which people give themselves to their work’ (Kahn, 1990).
Engagement is a special feeling of energy and motivation related to thrill and passion at
work. Following Warr and Inceoglu (2012), engagement is a highly energising and
stimulating well-being state. We understand engagement in the same way as Warr and
Inceoglu, and Schaufeli et al. (2010), related to the Zigarmi et al. (2009) engagement
concept of ‘Employee Work Passion’: engagement is a special feeling of energy and
motivation related to the capacity to feel thrilled, vibrant, excited or passionate at work.
Therefore, engagement refers to feelings resulting from meaningfulness at work.
Job satisfaction
Job characteristics, measured though job satisfaction, aim to evaluate job conditions.
Locke (1976) defined job satisfaction as ‘a positive emotional state resulting from the
appraisal of one’s job or job experiences’. This concept is considered to be a central
concept in organisations (Chiva and Alegre, 2009) and, to date, it has been related to job
performance (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996). Some measurement scales of job
satisfaction introduce information that is within the concept of engagement, such as the
Brayfield and Rothe (1951) scale, or the Job Descriptive Index (Smith et al., 1969).
Unlike engagement, which is related to the employee’s mood at work (enthusiasm,
activation), job satisfaction refers to judgements about work as a result of job
characteristics (joy, gladness). Job satisfaction is understood as adequacy, sufficiency,
acceptability or suitability. It evaluates employees’ feelings about working conditions,
such as salary, career opportunities or relationships with peers. It is a passive and
reactive concept that shows and measures whether we achieve what we want in terms of
work conditions. Moorman (1993) stated that job satisfaction evaluates conditions,
opportunities, or outcomes, which differentiates job satisfaction from engagement.
Through the Schriesheim and Tsui (1980) questionnaire, which was used in the original
HAW scale, information was gathered about judgements of job characteristics (i.e.,
‘how satisfied are you with the person who supervises you?’; ‘How satisfied are you
with the pay you receive for your job?’). However, satisfied workers could not be made
to engage.
Affective organisational commitment
The organisation as a whole, measured through affective organisational commitment,
considers affective feelings at work and continuance and normative commitment at
work. Affective organisational commitment takes the whole organisation as a reference,
measuring affection for the organisation, monetary evaluation of belonging to the
organisation, and feelings of responsibility to the organisation (i.e., ‘I would be very
happy to spend the rest of my career with this organisation’; ‘I feel a strong sense of
belonging to my organisation’). The concept of organisational commitment is defined as
'employees interest and connection with an organisation' (Meyer and Allen, 1997).
Meyer et al. (2002) stated that affective commitment is strongly related to important
organisational variables, such as job performance. Meyer and Allen’s model has three
components: affective, continuance and normative commitment. Affective commitment
refers to emotional links, identification and involvement in the organisation (Meyer et
al., 2002). Continuance commitment is related to the perceived costs to the employee if
she or he leaves the organisation (Meyer and Allen, 1984). Normative commitment is
the obligation the employee feels to stay within the organisation (Allen and Meyer,
1990).
HAW may be particularly meaningful because it is a broad enough concept to overcome
the compatibility principle, which facilitates the connection between attitudes and
behaviours, such as HAW and OCB (Salas-Vallina et al., 2017b). Further, the Job
Demands-Resources theory shows that work resources increase engagement (Bakker
and Demerouti, 2007), and Llorens et al. (2007), in a longitudinal study, demonstrated a
positive gain spiral in which engagement increases task resources over time. Therefore,
a mutual relationship between HAW dimensions is found, implying that HAW is
composed of three constructs with mutual feedback. These constructs have both
affective and cognitive components. Affective elements refer to feelings towards the
target, while cognitive components refer to an individual's beliefs or thoughts about an
attitude target, which is distinct, for example, from job satisfaction (Fisher, 2000).
It must be stressed that there are considerable differences between happiness at work
and well-being. There are two main research streams that represent the concept of well-
being, namely, psychological well-being and subjective well-being. Psychological well-
being, whose main exponent is Carol Ryff, refers to eudaimonic aspects in life, such as
personal growth, purpose in life, self-acceptance, environmental mastery, positive
relationships and autonomy (Ryff, 1989). Later, Ryan and Deci (2001) and Huppert and
So (2013) continued to develop this approach, which argues that hedonic theories are
inadequate to describe the Good Life (Ryan and Deci, 2001). The second view of the
concept, subjective well-being, has three main components, two affective elements
(positive and negative affect) and one cognitive element (life satisfaction) (Diener,
1984). Subjective well-being researchers consider that happiness is an internal state of
subjective evaluations about the quality of one’s life (Kashdan et al., 2008). This
perspective further emphasizes the hedonic and subjective aspects of well-being.
Literature suggests that hedonic happiness, understood as the mere pursuit of pleasure,
is not sustainable over the long term without eudaimonic well-being (Fisher, 2010,
Kashdan et al., 2008). The concept of happiness at work, measured by means of SHAW,
goes one step beyond well-being for different reasons. First, it includes both hedonic
and eudaimonic elements. On one hand, engagement comprises cognitive and
eudaimonic elements, and on the other, affective and subjective aspects. Job satisfaction
mainly includes eudaimonic elements. Affective organizational commitment involves
eudaimonic and hedonic components of well-being. Second, happiness at work is a
broad enough concept to capture much of the variance in person-level happiness in
organizations (Fisher, 2010). Third, SHAW might better explain behaviors, given that
attitude precedes behaviors, and behaviors need broad-based attitudinal measures to be
precisely explained (Harrison et al., 2006).
There are different scales within the positive organizational behavior field, such as the
one by Singh and Aggarwal (2017) and Lyubomirski and Lepper’s (1999) subjective
happiness measurement scale. The former focuses exclusively on subjective well-being
whilst the latter is a short, operative scale, yet is different on several counts when
compared to the SHAW scale. First, Lyubomirski and Lepper developed a scale based
exclusively on the subjective approach of well-being (Diener, 1996), which highlights
hedonic elements. In contrast, the SHAW scale includes objective elements (working
conditions) and cognitive aspects, besides subjective ones. Second, Lyubomirski and
Lepper’s scale measures happiness in general, while the SHAW measurement scale
focuses on the work context. Therefore, Lyubomirski and Lepper’s scale brings little
information about the determinants of happiness in working life. Third, Lyubomirski
and Lepper’s scale includes four items that ask about the respondents’ general level of
happiness (i.e. “Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of
what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this
characterization describe you?”). This type of questions may entail problems in the
quality of responses, as the concept of happiness might be interpreted in different ways
depending on the respondent. Conversely, SHAW does not directly ask about
happiness, instead it fields questions such as “I feel a strong sense of belonging to my
organization”, which is expected to be much more precisely answered by the
respondents.
3. Scale reduction and validation procedure
Self-report scales are a commonly used method for data collection (Sacket and Larson,
1990). Standard organisational surveys contain measures of different constructs that
contain multiple items. Although multi-item scales are easy to develop and administer
(Thomas and Petersen, 1982), research has highlighted problems with them. Such is the
case of the HAW scale, which consists of 3 dimensions and a total of 31 items.
Rogelberg and Luong (1998) showed that many employees feel 'over-surveyed', which
could have negative consequences for response rates. Respondents could negatively
perceive items that seem redundant or of minor importance. More motivated
respondents imply higher response rates and better data (Rogelberg and Luong, 1998),
and better wording improves the quality of items (Holden and Fekken, 1990). Stanton et
al. (2002) proposed a procedure for scale reduction based on three item categories:
internal, external and judgemental. Internal qualities are those that can be examined in
comparison to other items on the scale or to the global scale scores. External qualities
represent links between the items or the scale with other constructs. Judgemental
qualities allude to a subjective assessment of items, which is based on researchers'
knowledge (Hong et al., 2013). Our research shortens the original HAW scale, which
consists of three dimensions and 31 items. Although the HAW scale overcomes the
psychometric properties of dimensionality, reliability and validity, a shorter version is
needed. The current length of the HAW scale may cause problems of lower response
rates and is more complex to administer than a shorter one (Stanton et al., 2002). We
follow Stanton et al. (2002) and Kacmar et al. (2014) methodology to shorten the HAW
original scale in 4 steps. Two international and diversified samples (N1 = 234; N2 =
251) were used to shorten the original HAW scale. This guarantees a more robust
analysis and stronger results. Composite and heterogeneous samples were obtained from
different occupational sectors, such as physicians, nurses, teachers or banking
employees, across Spain and Italy. The first sample was used to measure the long HAW
version, and following select the items of the shortened version of the HAW (SHAW)
scale. The second sample included the SHAW scale, in order to compare the results
with the first sample, as explained later. Table 2 shows the gender distribution,
educational level and age of both samples.
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Table 2. Gender, educational level and age
The sample size exceeds the size of previous scale development papers (Fernandez-
Lores et al., 2015.). Data were gathered from an electronic questionnaire, with the
appointment of the head of the medical service. In the first step, we explore both the
internal and judgemental qualities of the original items, selecting those to be conserved
for the shortened scale, following Matthews et al.’s (2010) implementation. It consists
of evaluating internal qualities (item-level statistics) and judgemental qualities (non-
statistical aspects) from the first sample. In Step 2, we confirm the factor structure,
conducting a confirmatory factor analysis. In Step 3, we check external qualities,
examining whether the shortened scale works accurately with the antecedents of the
long version of the scale. Finally, in Step 4, we analyse if the shortened scale behaves
correctly with the long scale’s outcome variables.
Step 1. Scale reduction
Method
The first sample (N1 = 234) was used to both assess HAW and the shortened HAW
scale (SHAW). The HAW scale was developed by Salas-Vallina et al. (2017a), which is
composed of three dimensions. The theoretical discussion of the HAW scale has been
developed in previous research (Salas-Vallina et al., 2017a), in which HAW derives
from: (1) Engagement, which is measured using the UWES scale (Schaufeli et al.,
2002), and consists of 17 items ranging from 1 'never' to 6 'always'. Cronbach’s Alpha
of engagement was .91. (2) Job satisfaction, which is measured using Schriesheim and
Tsui's (1980) scale, and includes 6 items ranging from 1 'totally disagree' to 5 'totally
agree'. Cronbach’s Alpha of job satisfaction was .94. (3) Affective organisational
commitment, which is measured by means of Allen and Meyer's (1990) scale, and
contains 8 items ranging from 1 'totally disagree' to 5 'totally agree'. Cronbach’s Alpha
of affective organisational commitment was .90. SHAW was measured by means of 9
items, selected from the original HAW scale.
Results
We must ensure that HAW dimensions accurately follow their theoretical definitions.
To this end, we rely on our knowledge and research experience of the construct. A
quality selection criterion combined with professional judgement, and not necessarily a
factor loading criteria, works properly for both external relations and internal
consistency (Stanton et al., 2002). Our research group chose a group of three items that
best captured the content area of the dimension (Matthews et al., 2010). After reviewing
literature on well-being, engagement, job satisfaction, and commitment, we selected the
items that we agreed best represented the construct, avoiding repetition and concept
overlapping. Figure 1 shows HAW 31 items and Figure 2 shows SHAW selected items.
The original engagement scale consists of three sub-dimensions, namely vigor,
dedication and absorption. We selected one item for each sub-dimension: item 4 ("At
my job, I feel strong and vigorous", ENG1), item 5 ("I am enthusiastic about my job",
ENG2) and item 14 ("I get carried away when I am working2, ENG3), were item 4
represents vigor, item 5 represents dedication, and item 14 represents absorption. The
three items are focused on capturing feelings of vigor, energy, passion at work.
For job satisfaction, we selected item 18 ("How satisfied are you with the nature of the
work you perform?", JS1), item 21 ("How satisfied are you with the opportunities which
exist in this organization for advancement [promotion]?", JS2), and item 22
("Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your current job situation?", JS3).
These items focus in general and wide questions, combined with job characteristics
questions, that we judged they accurately represent the construct (objective evaluations
of the job). For affective organizational commitment, we chose items 24 ("I would be
very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization, AOC1), 29 ("I feel
emotionally attached' to this organization", AOC2) and 31 ("I feel a strong sense of
belonging to my organization", AOC3).
These items clearly gather the sense of the construct, as they focus on emotional
attachment and feelings of belonging to the organization. Next, we conducted an
iterative process to check item reduction. First, the items were selected on the basis of
face validity by a group of experts in the research field. Then, the selected item was
regressed on the remaining items and the item with the highest β value was added to the
first item. Next, the sum of these two items was regressed on the remaining items and
the item with the highest β was added to both of the previously selected items. This
iterative process finished when no significant variance was found. In addition, literature
considers that three items for each dimension is an accurate number, as it is the
minimum number of items for a viable analysis (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2001).
Then, we determined the Cronbach’s alphas of both the shortened and the original
HAW scale to guarantee adequate reliability. Table 3 shows satisfactory reliability
results and robust correspondence (.980) between the original and SHAW forms. Next,
we assessed discriminant validity correlating the SHAW with HAW dimensions of
engagement, job satisfaction and affective organisational commitment, following
accepted methods (Kacmar et al., 2014). The correlations of the SHAW scale with these
dimensions were strong and positive. We also verified that the original and shortened
variant of the HAW scale worked similarly with engagement, job satisfaction and
affective organisational commitment. To this end, we ran a Fisher r-to-z transformation
to identify divergences in correlations (Cohen and Cohen, 1983). Table 4 shows no
significant differences between the original and shortened versions of the HAW scale
and the dimensions of engagement, job satisfaction and affective organisational
commitment.
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Figure 1. Happiness at work (HAW) measurement scale items.
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Figure 2. Shorted happiness at work (HAW) scale selected items.
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Table 3. Descriptive statistics, correlations and reliabilities. Note: Cronbach's alphas
appear on the diagonal. ENG = engagement, JS = job satisfaction, AOC = affective
organisational commitment (**, p < 0.01, ***p<0.001)
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Table 4. Comparison of correlations between the original and shortened form of the
HAW scale and engagement (ENG), job satisfaction (JS) and affective organisational
commitment (AOC)
Discussion
In Step 1, we generated a short form of the HAW scale consisting of nine items (three
items for each dimension). SHAW presents satisfactory reliability and has similar
properties to the HAW scale in terms of its dimensions of engagement, job satisfaction
and affective organisational commitment. In Step 2, we validate the factor structure of
the SHAW scale.
Step 2: Confirm factor structure
Method
A new sample (N2 = 251) was used to confirm SHAW’s factor structure. To evaluate
the psychometric properties of SHAW, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis
using EQS. In congruence with accepted methods (Gerbing and Anderson, 1988), we
assessed dimensionality, reliability, content validity, convergent validity and
discriminant validity. SHAW is a second-order factor and comprises three dimensions:
engagement (ENG), job satisfaction (JS) and affective organisational commitment
(AOC). Three items represented each SHAW dimension, for a total of 9 items.
Dimensionality refers to the adequate factorial structure in designing the SHAW scale.
Reliability allows us to confirm the level of quality of the measurement scale
(considering random error). Validity ensures that the scale measures what it is intended
to measure.
Results
To verify the dimensionality of the SHAW higher-order construct, we ran a second-
order confirmatory factor analysis. All factor loadings were significant (Table 5), and
the results revealed, in absolute terms, a good fit; the Root Mean Square Error of
Approximation, RMSEA, was close to 0 (0.048), the Bentler and Bonet Normed Fit
Index was higher than 0.992 (0.990), the Comparative Fit Index was close to 1 (0.996),
and the normed Chi-square (the ratio of the chi square to the degree of freedom) had a
value below 4 (2.418), yielding a very good fit (Hair et al., 2014). Figure 3 shows
confirmatory factor analysis results and Table 5 shows the global fit indicators of the
model.
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Figure 3. Confirmatory factor analysis for the shortened version of happiness at work
(HAW).
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INSERT TABLE 5 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Table 5. Fit values of the HAW second-order factor model
Reliability is defined by Hair et al. (2014) as 'the ratio of the true score’s variance to the
observed variable’s variance'. We used composite reliability values and R2 values to
check reliability; all the values fell within the recommended range at above 0.50, and
composite reliability values were above 0.70 (Table 5 and Figure 2). We can therefore
confirm the reliability of the measurement scales for each dimension of happiness at
work.
____________________________
INSERT TABLE 6 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Table 6. SHAW composite reliability, variance extracted, standardized loadings,
reliability of indicators and measurement error (sample 1). Notes: The parameter was
equaled to 1 to fix the latent variable scale. Parameter estimates are standardized. All
parameter coefficients are statistically significant (**p<0.01)
_____________________________
INSERT FIGURE 4 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Figure 4. Composite reliability formula. Note: λ (lambda) is the standardized factor
loading for item i and ε is the respective error variance for item i. The error variance
(ε) is estimated based on the value of the standardized loading (λ).
Validity ensures that the scale measures what it intends to measure. We checked
content, convergent and discriminant validity. We affirm that there is content validity if
the scale items represent the construct and they are easy to respond to. Both the
dimensions and the items of SHAW are based on previously validated scales (Schaufeli
et al., 2002; Vigoda and Cohen, 2002; Hartman and Bambacas, 2000).
Convergent validity shows that the measure used has a high correlation with other
measures that evaluate the same concept. It was evaluated using the BBNFI indicator
and the factor loadings estimated in the confirmatory factor analysis. In Table 5, the
BBNFI index lies above 0.90 (Ahire et al., 1996), the factor loadings are above 0.4
(Hair et al., 2014) and the t-values are superior to 1.96 (Anderson and Gerbing, 1982).
Discriminant validity warrants that all dimensions that make up the construct are
different from each other (Gatignon et al., 2002). We checked discriminant validity
using pairwise confirmatory factor analysis. It consists of comparing two models, one of
which was estimated by constraining the correlation to 1. The results show (Table 8)
that the model fits better for all pairs of constructs where the correlation is not equal to
1, confirming that the two constructs are distinct from each other, although they may be
significantly correlated (Bagozzi et al., 1991). We also found that all correlation
coefficients were significant and below 0.9 (Del Barrio and Luque, 2000), which also
ensures discriminant validity.
_____________________________
INSERT TABLE 7 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Table 7. Pairwise confirmatory analyses
We also conducted a Harman’s single-factor test (Podsakoff et al., 2003) to assess
whether common method variance exists. This test allows us to check if responses are
affected by social desirability. The results of the CFA with the indicators loading into a
single factor (Chi-Square 161.392; CFI = 0.886; RMSEA = 0.186; BBNFI = 0.913;
BBNNFI = 0.886; x2/d.f. = 6.725) suggested a poor fit, meaning that a single factor
does not account for all of the variance in the data. In addition, the variance extracted
for each dimension (Tables 5 and 6) is above the squared correlation of a construct with
any of the others composing SHAW scale (Fornell and Larcker, 1981), which confirms
discriminant validity. Therefore, we can conclude that SHAW consist of three distinct
dimensions. Pairwise confirmatory factor analysis is a stringent test, which was
complemented with Harman's single factor test. Both confirmed that SHAW dimensions
show significant distinctions to deserve considering each as a separate and unique
variable.
Discussion
Steps 1 and 2 confirm that SHAW works similarly as the original version. In steps 3 and
4, we examine the external qualities of SHAW by analysing it in terms of the
antecedents of the original HAW scale (Stanton et al., 2002).
Step 3: Antecedents
Method
To assess the external qualities of SHAW, we first examined its correlation with
antecedents from the nomological network. We obtained the r-to-z Fisher
transformation using the first sample (N1 = 234), in order to determine if the original
and shortened HAW scale versions significantly differed in their correlations with
HAW antecedents.
Competence, autonomy and relatedness have been proved to be antecedents of positive
attitudes (Reis et al., 2000). Pekrun et al. (2006) found that performance-approach goals
promote intrinsic motivation. Kindness, gratitude, optimism, curiosity, humor and open-
mindedness are also important contributors to happiness (Seligman, 2002). In the
organizational context, Hackmand and Oldham (1975) argued that task significance,
skill variety, task identity, feedback from the job and autonomy produce positive work
attitudes. The more developed view of Morgeson and Humphrey (2006) suggested 21
motivational factors, including social and work context factors (task significance, task
variety, skill variety, feedback from others, work conditions, social support, ...). Warr
(2007) provided a different typology of job characteristics that promote positive
attitudes, such as supportive supervision, equity, environmental clarity and opportunity
for skill use. Fisher (2010) and Pryce-Jones and Lindsay (2014) highlighted that
leaders’ behavior might be related to employee happiness. For example, it has been
found that charismatic leadership promotes subordinate job satisfaction (DeGroot et al.,
2000), and trust in the leader predicts satisfaction and commitment (Dirks and Ferrin,
2002). Previous research has also evidenced a direct and positive relationship between
transformational leadership and HAW (Salas-Vallina et al., 2017a), in line with Mathieu
et al.'s (2016) model, in which transformational leadership is positively related to
employee's commitment and job satisfaction. We measured transformational leadership
using Rafferty and Griffin’s (2004) adaptation of the Podsakoff scale (Podsakoff et al.,
1990). This scale comprises the dimensions of vision ('has a clear understanding of
where we are going'), inspirational communication, intellectual stimulation, supportive
leadership and personal recognition.
Another construct that influences HAW is organisational learning capability (Salas-
Vallina et al., 2017a). It has been proven that organisational learning capability
mediates the relationship between transformational leadership and HAW. The scale
validated by Chiva et al. (2007) was used to measure organisational learning capability.
The scale measures the five factors of OLC defined by Chiva et al. (2007) through items
such as 'people are encouraged to interact with the environment: competitors,
customers, technological institutes, universities, suppliers etc.'.
Results
We provide correlations between the HAW original and shortened scales and
antecedents of HAW in Table 7. Columns 1 and 2 evidence that the correlations
between the HAW scale (using sample 1), SHAW (using sample 2) and its antecedents
(transformational leadership and organisational learning capability) are very similar.
Fisher’s r-to-z transformation in column 3 shows that the differences in correlations are
not significant (z < 1.96). The pattern of results for the dimensions reveals that both the
original and shortened forms’ dimensions correlate similarly with HAW antecedents,
considering the two different samples.
____________________________
INSERT TABLE 8 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Table 8. Comparison of correlations between the original (sample 1) and shortened
(sample 2) HAW scales and antecedent variables. ENG = engagement, JS = job
satisfaction. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01
Discussion
Step 3 provides evidence that HAW antecedents work similarly in the original and
shortened versions of the HAW scales. Although HAW dimensions correlate nearly
identically with HAW antecedents, it is interesting to observe that some are strongly
related to each dimension (i.e., engagement correlates more strongly with organisational
learning capability, while job satisfaction correlates more strongly with transformational
leadership, for the both samples).
Step 4: Outcomes
Method
We also evaluated external qualities of SHAW by comparing its correlation with HAW
outcomes. We obtained the r-to-Z Fisher transformation to determine whether the
original and shortened HAW significantly differ in their correlations with HAW
outcomes.
Past research found a reduced intention to quit as a consequence of job satisfaction and
commitment (Meyer et al. (2002). Organizational citizenship behavior was found to
emerge as a result of higher job satisfaction and commitment levels (LePine et al.
(2002). Happier employees are more predisposed to learn (Singh and Aggarwal, 2007).
Moreover, the “Holy Grail” of organizational behavior research lies in the positive
relationship between job satisfaction and job performance (Weiss and Cropanzano,
1996). Previous research (Salas-Vallina et al., 2017b) has also revealed that
organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is a consequence of HAW. OCB goes
beyond traditional measures of job performance and reveals a type of behaviour that
refers to positive contributions made by employees that are not included in their job
specifications. Organ (1988, p. 4) defined OCB as the ‘individual behaviour that is
discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognised by the formal reward system and that
in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organisation’. The attitudinal
theory states that positive attitudes result in positive behaviours (Abzari et al., 2015),
and the JD-R theory posits that resources lead to positive attitudes, which result in pro-
social behaviours (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007). OCB was measured using the Lee and
Allen (2002) scale, which has been validated in previous research. Participants
answered how often they presently engaged in the behaviour or if they assisted others
with their duties.
Results
Table 9 provides empirical evidence that both the original and the shortened version of
the HAW scale do not have significant differences (z < 1.96) in their correlations with
the outcome variable, which means that they work similarly. We also determined the
correlations between the original (using sample 1) and shortened (using sample 2)
HAW dimensions and OLC, finding that they correlate similarly. These results are
interesting for researchers who aim to work with specific HAW dimensions.
____________________________
INSERT TABLE 9 ABOUT HERE
_____________________________
Table 9. Comparison of correlations between the original and shortened HAW scales
and outcome variables. ENG = engagement, JS = job satisfaction. * p < 0.05, ** p <
0.01
Discussion
Step 4 confirms that the OCB outcome variable examined in previous research
correlates with SHAW similarly to the original HAW scale, using two different
samples. In addition, we found that HAW original scale dimensions correlate with OCB
slightly more compared to SHAW dimensions.
4. Discussion
This paper has developed and validated a short version of the HAW scale, which is a
broad and accurate measure of positive attitudes at work (Fisher, 2010). Self-report
survey methods need to be improved by shortening existing scales (Kacmar et al.,
2014), and the SHAW scale is a reliable, valid and acceptable measure that answers the
call for more accurate and precise self-report measures. SHAW supports previous
research on positive attitudes and takes Fisher’s (2010) conceptualization of HAW
(Fisher, 2010), which comprises three dimensions that broadly capture HAW,
considering the affective implication and feelings at work, evaluative judgments of job
characteristics, such as salary, supervision, and career opportunities, and feelings of
belonging to the organization. These three dimensions are respectively captured in the
original HAW scale using engagement (a special feeling of energy and motivation
related to the capacity of thrilling and feeling passionate at work), job satisfaction (a
more reactive concept that captures feelings about working conditions, such as salary,
career opportunities or relationship with peers) and affective organisational commitment
(feelings of affection and belonging to the organisation). What makes HAW particularly
interesting is that not only does it integrate and clarify its three dimensions, but it also
presents a higher order construct, a general attitude measure (Salas-Vallina et al.,
2017a,2017b), which enables compatibility when wanting to link attitudes and
behaviours, such as HAW and OCB.
We shortened the original HAW scale by using best practice recommendations for scale
reduction (Stanton et al., 2002; Kacmar et al., 2014), using two heterogeneous samples
from different occupational sectors, such as physicians, nurses, teachers or banking
employees, across Spain and Italy. The results of our research suggest that the nine-
item version of the HAW scale adequately captures all aspects of each dimension only
with less than one-third of the items, and that both versions of HAW have similar
psychometric properties. In Step 1, we followed Stanton et al.’s (2002) recommendation
of contemplating not only internal item qualities (factor loadings, Cronbach's alphas...)
but also judgemental qualities. Research expertise can positively influence the quality of
items by improving items’ relevance or clarity of expression and avoiding semantic
redundancy, negations or absolutes. We choose 9 items of the 31 items in the original
HAW scale. In Step 2, we verified the factor structure of the SHAW scale using a
second sample, by means of confirmatory factor analysis. We ensured that SHAW
overcomes the psychometric properties of dimensionality, reliability, content validity,
convergent validity and discriminant validity. In Step 3, we checked that there were no
significant differences in the correlations between the HAW scale and SHAW
dimensions with HAW antecedents. In Step 4, we confirmed that the HAW scale and
SHAW work similarly in relation to HAW outcomes. Steps 4 and 5 used the first
sample (N = 234). These four steps demonstrate that the proposed SHAW performs in
the same manner as the original HAW scale. We provide ample evidence that our
shortened scale can be used to measure HAW while maintaining the statistical
properties of the original scale.
Our research shows that the SHAW scale is a viable measure to implement in the
growing field of positive management, in which few comprehensively reliable and valid
wide measures exist (Fisher, 2010). SHAW is a quick and accessible tool to assess
happiness in the work context. We argue that this new measurement scale presents a
high statistical potential to widely capture positive attitudes at work, which opens
undeveloped research possibilities. Our environment is increasingly characterised by the
progressive dehumanisation of organisations (Kristensen and Johansson, 2008).
Sulkowski (2013, p. 10) stated that ‘The industrial era of dehumanization of the
workforce has influenced and left management practices being incompatible with the
emotional, cognitive and collaborative underpinnings of modern human capital. […]
there is a need to humanize [human capital] again’.
However, there is some criticism of positive psychology. Fineman (2006) argues that
the ‘sunnier side of life’, namely, positive emotions (love, hope and joy), should be
linked to negative emotions (fear, anxiety, sadness), as they are two sides of the same
coin, and that love and jealousy, or anger and energy can be mixed. Hence, research
should not focus solely on the positive, as it represents a narrow view of reality. But the
point is that SHAW is not an emotion, it is an attitude. And as Fisher (2010) stated,
emotions (joy, love) precede attitudes (engagement, commitment, satisfaction,
happiness). Therefore, the complex and little known world of emotions is not examined
in this research.
Fineman also stated that positiveness is presented as the panacean world, being
seductive and uncritical. The SHAW scale does not support this view. SHAW does not
force people to smile and feel happy. On the contrary, it is a way to improve their
quality of life at work. We do not propose psychotherapeutic workplace programs to
improve self-esteem (Armstrong, 2004). The aim of SHAW is not to generate positive
energy. SHAW aspires to seduce companies to set the stage for better working
conditions. In response to this, employees are expected to become more engaged,
satisfied and committed at work, which is aligned with recent publications centering on
happiness and the common good (Felber, 2015).
As Fineman (2006) and (Doughty, 2004) rightly argued, measures for positivity do not
take into account social or economic conditions in the workplace. Moreover, positivity
is often understood as an imposed psychological state, which leads to employee
conformity to the organization (Fineman, 2006). Nevertheless, we agree with Fineman
that programs that aim to make workers happy can reinforce subordination, control and
inequalities (Alvesson and Willmott, 1992). This is not the case of the SHAW construct,
in which happiness emerges as a consequence of breaking down imbalances in the
workforce. For example, a fair salary is included in the job satisfaction dimension of
SHAW, which refers to good working conditions. What is more, affective
organizational commitment refers to employees’ perception of belonging to the
organization, which is closely related to participation and, by extension, to the level of
democratization of the organization. Still, we agree with Fineman (2006) that positivity
at work might need to consider cultural diversity, as cultural norms differ between
countries, and therefore the SHAW scale may require adaptation to distant cultures.
More than ever before, managers need employees that make a critical difference in
innovation, competitiveness, and performance. The focus in modern organisations
should be on the management of human capital, creating the working conditions that
inspire employees to be happy, going the extra mile and persisting in the face of
difficulties. HAW is a powerful tool that may help organisations to attract creative,
enthusiastic and passionate employees who make companies successful. HAW should
become a primary focus of human resources management and its rigorous measurement
is primarily a practice imperative.
5. Limitations and future research
To validate the psychometric properties of the SHAW scale (Salas-Vallina et al., in-
press-a, b), we did not limit the sample to a specific department or organisation. We
used data collected from two samples with wide range of employees throughout Spain
and Italy. We followed accepted methods for scale reduction (Stanton et al., 2002),
accurately examining internal, external and judgemental qualities of the new shortened
scale. However, our research design presents some limitations. First, although we
analysed different antecedent and outcome variables, they represent only an example of
the wide number of variables that could have been included. This limitation also opens
future research possibilities for SHAW. Causal effects were not explored due to the
process of data collection. We propose that future research tests additional antecedent
and outcome variables and validates previous theoretical models, comparing its
psychometric properties with those of the SHAW scale. Although our validation of the
SHAW scale still requires further exploration, this research demonstrates that HAW can
be accurately measured using a shortened scale.
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Engagement
1. At my work, I feel bursting with energy
2. I find the work that I do full of meaning and purpose
3. Time flies when I am working
4. At my job, I feel strong and vigorous
5. I am enthusiastic about my job
6. When I am working, I forget everything else around me
7. My job inspires me
8. When I get up in the morning, I feel like going to work
9. I feel happy when I am working intensely
10. I am proud on the work that I do
11. I am immersed in my work
12. I can continue working for very long periods at a time
13. To me, my job is challenging
14. I get carried away when I am working
15. At my job, I am very resilient, mentally
16. It is difficult to detach myself from my job
17. At my work I always persevere, even when things do not go well
Job satisfaction
18. How satisfied are you with the nature of the work you perform?
19. How satisfied are you with the person who supervises you [your organizational
superior]?
20. How satisfied are you with your relations with others in the organization with whom
you work [your co-workers or peers]?
21. How satisfied are you with the pay you receive for your job?
22. How satisfied are you with the opportunities which exist in this organization for
advancement [promotion]?
23. Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your current job situation?
Affective Organizational Commitment
24. I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization
25. I enjoy discussing my organization with people outside it
26. I really feel as if this organization's problems are my own
27. I think that I could easily become as attached to another organization as I am to this one
28. I feel like part of the family at my organization
29. I feel emotionally attached' to this organization
30. This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me
31. I feel a strong sense of belonging to my organization
Figure 1. Happiness at work (HAW) measurement scale items.
1. At my job, I feel strong and vigorous
2. I am enthusiastic about my job
3. I get carried away when I am working
4. How satisfied are you with the nature of the work you perform?
5. How satisfied are you with the pay you receive for your job?
6. How satisfied are you with the opportunities which exist in this organization for
advancement [promotion]?
7. I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization
8. I feel emotionally attached' to this organization
9. I feel a strong sense of belonging to my organization
Figure 2. Shorted happiness at work (HAW) scale selected items.
Figure 3. Confirmatory factor analysis for the shortened version of happiness at work
(SHAW).
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Figure 4. Composite reliability formula. Note: λ (lambda) is the standardized factor
loading for item i and ε is the respective error variance for item i. The error variance
(ε) is estimated based on the value of the standardized loading (λ).
... In this regard, the concept of happiness at work involves both the individual and organizational dimensions of work life, going beyond them and permanently focusing on the worker (5) . According with the same authors, happiness at work involves organizational and individual factors that are divided in transitory aspects (emotions and moods) and aspects that remain more stable through time (dispositions and attitudes). ...
... According with the same authors, happiness at work involves organizational and individual factors that are divided in transitory aspects (emotions and moods) and aspects that remain more stable through time (dispositions and attitudes). It involves the concepts of engagement (affective and cognitive involvement and liking one's work), job satisfaction (judging the characteristics of the work, environment, colleagues, and conditions) and affective organizational behavior (feelings of belonging, emotional bonds, and identification with the values of the organization) (5) . ...
... Data collection took place in September 2020, through the application of three instruments: a questionnaire for sociodemographic/professional characterization (including sex, age, marital status, children, dependents, leisure activities, academic degrees, time of professional experience, professional category, work shift, and professional bond with the institution); the Shorted Happiness at Work Scale (SHAW) (5) and the Impact Event Scale Revised (IES-R) (17) , preceded by two questions, which invited participants to succinctly describe the critical incident that marked them the most in their professional lives and how long ago it happened. After contact was established with the nurse directors, the content and objective of the study were presented to them. ...
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Objective to analyze the relationship between happiness levels at work and psychological trauma in nurses and their variation according with sociodemographic/professional variables. Methods cross-sectional study with 113 nurses. The sociodemographic/professional questionnaires applied were the Shorted Happiness at Work Scale and the Impact Event Scale Revised. Pearson’s correlation, Students T and Mann-Whitney’s tests were used. Results there was a mean score of 4.25 (±1.05) in the Shorted Happiness at Work Scale and 24.8 (±13.9) in the Impact Event Scale Revised. The variables sex, dependents, and leisure activities influenced job satisfaction; age, children, leisure activities, professional experience, and work shift influenced psychological trauma. There was a negative weak correlation between job satisfaction and psychological trauma (r=-0.270). Conclusion nurses showed moderate levels of happiness at work and low levels of psychological trauma, suggesting that higher levels of happiness may protect them from psychological traumas.
... Some consider EE as a dimension of wellbeing while others as a construct able to influence it. Our review highlights the lack of studies in which EE is considered a psychological dimension of wellbeing or in which EE is studied as a component of happiness at work (Salas-Vallina & Alegre, 2018). ...
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