Workplace Happiness

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Dwayne Greene
October 18, 2006
Professional Studies: Ethics & Issues
Professor Tom Russell

Position Paper 1:
Workplace Happiness


Explores how various philosophers clarified questions concerning happiness. Specific questions address: What is happiness? Does everyone experience the same level of happiness in the workplace? Traces the history of happiness, by illustrating the meaning of happiness. Demonstrates several views of philosophers including Aristotle, Stuart Mill and St. Augustine on happiness. Observation of Christianity position revolving happiness. Obtaining happiness at work, and how job satisfaction should be at the top of the list.


As the New Year of 2007 approaches, many will celebrate the New Year by wishing others “Happy New Year”. Even the popular 90’s song was titled “Don’t Worry be Happy” addressed happiness. Most have experienced the joy of the moment; rather, the beauty of the sunset or a great tasting meal. Then, what is happiness, does everyone experience the same level of happiness. Yet few would equate the passing pleasures of the moment with happiness. For employees, work is an important domain of life and feelings of satisfaction at work are of obvious importance in living a good life. For employers, too, employee satisfaction has significant benefits. Happier employees tend to take fewer sick leaves, are less often absent, have lower turnover rates and are more committed. By tracing the history of happiness, examining the views of influential philosophers and by probing the meaning of happiness, the following discussion will explore the revolving questions of happiness related to workplace satisfaction.

Literature Review
Over the past 30 years there has been a significant volume of writing in social science literature relating to happiness at work. Much of it is concerned with working hours, stress, expectations, job characteristics and social recognition. Some scholars have undertaken research into the relationship between happiness, work and leisure. With the topic of happiness, what is the real meaning of happiness? Why does happiness have such a profound affect on job performance? What is the driving factor behind happiness? One must begin evaluating previous philosophers to address these questions. Through the materials of Aristotle, his voice supports a strong view on happiness. However, there are other philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill’s who go against an encouraging view of happiness. Mill’s, view tacked the connection between possession of natural things and happiness. This discussion will illustrate various positions of happiness related to the workplace. Working lives are not just a means to pay bills and to get the most out of our time and effort. There are other important aspects to the experiences of work, such as contentment and enjoyment. Consideration by work force administrators should be given to how people can be happy with their work. This is extremely important because work is a very significant facet of most people’s lives.


In order to fully appreciate the challenge of clarifying happiness, one must inspect the word, happiness. The ancient Greek word for happiness is eudaimonia, which is related to eutychia (lucky), olbios (blessed) and makarios (blissful). The meaning of all these terms signifies good spirit or good god. In colloquial terms, to be eudaimon was to be lucky in a world of constant disorder. To have a good spirit working on one’s behalf was the ultimate mark of good fortune. In a world governed by supernatural forces, human happiness was a spiritual force from the gods, beyond one’s control. However, when viewed through mortal eyes, the world’s happenings and thus happiness could only appear randomly. Although, this meaning held true to Greeks, other philosophers challenged the meaning of happiness and the worthiness of happiness. Most...
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