Do You Feel Good at Work? Here Is How to Boost Your Mood

Workplace research reveals the connection between state of mind and satisfaction

Posted Feb 28, 2019

Some people love what they do and never “work” a day in their life.  For the rest of us, Monday is not our favorite day of the week.  Even people with non-traditional work schedules welcome the chance to enhance job enjoyment and satisfaction.  Thankfully, research indicates that we can.

Demanding jobs require attention and self-control.  And happy employees are productive employees. Research reveals how these concepts intersect.

Feeling Good Personally and Professionally

Many people slave away at jobs they despise because the money is good.  No one can blame employees with families to feed and children to put through college for prioritizing job security over job satisfaction.  But does a good paycheck improve productivity?  Does money impact mood?  Research reveals that actually, daily workplace experiences impact job satisfaction.  

Although not establishing a causal relationship, research establishes there may in many cases be a relationship between very important aspects of on-the-job emotional satisfaction.  Wladislaw Rivkin et al. (2016) examined the impact of daily experiences and well-being in a workplace setting.[i]  They began by recognizing prior research establishing self-determination theory (SDT), which holds that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs such as competence, relatedness, and autonomy in a workplace setting creates the foundation for commitment, as well as autonomous (which is the opposite of controlled) regulation, or intrinsic motivation, which boosts a feeling of well-being.  

Regarding the relationship between autonomous regulation and affective commitment, research indicates that the satisfaction of basic needs may enhance autonomous regulation—which can boost employee commitment. When commitment enhances autonomous regulation, the employee may find himself or herself better able to withstand the adverse impact of job stressors.

This is good news, because job stressors can make even the most interesting job miserable.  Thankfully, there are measures that may, in some cases, help counteract the stressful aspects of any type of employment.  

Feeling Good on the Job: How to Go With the Flow

Rivkin et al. investigated how an employee’s daily on-the-job experiences can boost well-being.  They sought to incorporate the concept of flow experiences, defined as “states of consciousness occasionally experienced by individuals who are deeply involved in an enjoyable activity.”  The authors describe flow experiences as “pleasant states that are highly intrinsically motivating and during which employees experience high levels of autonomous regulation.”  

They believed that employees who are strongly committed to their jobs would be more likely to feel autonomous regulation or intrinsic motivation at work, which would likely to translate into flow experiences. 

Sure enough, Rivkin et al. found that day-specific flow experiences mediated the positive relationship between employee commitment and well-being. When employees enjoy the experience of flow, the results suggest, they may find themselves better equipped to cope with demands on their self-control.

Not Married to Your Job Yet?  How to Get Engaged

If you are not already “all in” at your workplace, there are ways to become more engaged.  Woocheol Kim et al. (2017) examined the relationship between work engagement and organizational commitment.[ii]  They recognize this type of research is valuable due to the impact of both concepts on the well-being of employees and the performance of the organization.  

Kim et al. adopted research-based definitions of both concepts, recognizing work engagement as “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption,” and organizational commitment as “the relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organization.”  They further adopted a definition of work engagement as synonymous with concepts such as “employee engagement, job engagement, role engagement, or personal engagement.” 

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They note that the literature appears to suggest that the impact of engagement on commitment depends on job resources such as social support, performance feedback, role clarity, autonomy, and career development, or job characteristics such as task significance or identity.

Home Away From Home

Given the significant amount of time people spend on the job, this research seems to suggest that workplace structure can indeed contribute to satisfaction, and that a positive workplace experience involves much more than merely going through the motions.  Think about this the next time you are invited to a “teambuilding” activity such as a retreat or professional seminar.  (no, a happy hour does not technically count). Companies that strive to go the extra mile to support employees both personally and professionally that have an opportunity to enhance job satisfaction, and maintain employee productivity, and loyalty.


[i]Wladislaw Rivkin, Stefan Diestel, and Klaus-Helmut Schmidt, “Which daily experiences can foster well-being at work? A diary study on the interplay between flow experiences, affective commitment, and self-control demands,” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 23, no. 1, (2018): 99–111. 

[ii]Woocheol Kim, Jiyoung Kim, Heajung Woo, Jiwon Park, Junghyun Jo, Sang-Hoon Park, and Se Yung Lim, “The Relationship Between Work Engagement and Organizational Commitment: Proposing Research Agendas Through a Review of Empirical Literature,” Human Resource Development Review 16, no. 4 (2017): 350–376.