Happiness and Absenteeism in the Workplace

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Type and Duration

FFF-Förderprojekt, January 2009 until December 2012 (finished)


Chair in Management

Main Research

Growth and Complexity

Field of Research



Absenteeism is one of the largest internal cost drivers in
organizations as it causes both direct costs - such as lower
productivity - and indirect costs - such as a drop in work morale.
Research on potential predictors of absenteeism is large. Multiple
meta-analyses have revealed that there are both personal (e.g.anxiety, satisfaction, commitment, personality) and climatic (e.g. shift-work,
flextime) factors that may predict individual-level absenteeism.
However, the limited predictive validity of these antecedents suggests
that our understanding of absenteeism remains to be fairly limited.

The main purpose of this study is thus to move beyond the existing
frameworks and to draw on findings from psychological economics
and positive psychology, which suggest that happiness might be an
important and largely unexplored predictor to absenteeism. In this
context we aim to answer the following two research questions:
1. What are the important factors that influence happiness in the
workplace? More particularly we ask how organizational fairness and
trust in colleagues affect happiness in the workplace.
2. How does happiness influence absenteeism?
We will test our hypotheses both qualitatively and quantitatively in a
large Swiss multinational firm.

We will communicate our research results to the scientific community
as well as to practitioners. For the latter we plan to communicate via
three channels. Firstly, we plan to conduct a series of talks on
happiness in the workplace at the Hochschule Liechtenstein. For
these talks we invite our research partners and also communicate our
findings. Secondly, we develop a "happiness in the workplace survey"
which will be made available for firms upon request. Thirdly, we write
a brochure about "drivers of happiness in the workplace" which will be
distributed to firms in Liechtenstein.

Practical Application

a) This research project allows to integrate our findings in those three fields we have already conducted research in: trust, organizational fairness and self-determination theory. In addition we are able to bridge those findings from our happiness research partners in psychological economics with our findings in the field of positive psychology.

b) In addition to what we have identified to be our main two contributions to the literature (see 2.2.1) we suggest that this research might also contribute to research on health in the workplace. Numerous psychologists support the view that there is a positive association between health and happiness (c.f.Dolan et al., 2008; Norrish & Vella-Brodrick, 2008; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Investigating the sources of happiness is not only beneficial for workplace improvements, but also for general improvement of physical, psychological and social health of a society.


  • Forschungsförderungsfonds der Universität Liechtenstein