A new look at employee happiness: how employees’ perceptions of a job as offering experiences versus objects to customers influence job-related happiness

Wilson Bastos*, Sigal G. Barsade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

People gain more happiness from purchasing experiences than material objects. We examine whether this intriguing psychological effect also occurs for the employees who provide those experiential and material goods to customers. Evidence from a field survey of employees across multiple jobs and industries (Study 1) and three experiments (Studies 2–4) indicates that people who perceive their jobs as primarily providing experiences (vs. material objects) gain more happiness from those jobs. Furthermore, we hypothesize and find support for a two-step sequential mediation explaining this effect. Experiential (vs. material) jobs are associated with greater employee involvement of the self with the goods they provide to customers and employee perceived positive impact on customers (step 1 mediators), each of which increases job meaningfulness (step 2 mediator), leading to greater job-related happiness. Additionally, as a moderator, we find that when the good turns out negatively for customers, employee involvement of the self with the good and job meaningfulness sequentially mediate the effect, but employee perceived positive impact on customers and job meaningfulness do not. These findings extend the experience versus object superiority effect from the customer-side to the employee-side of the interaction, contributing to the job design, job meaningfulness, and employee affect literatures. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume161
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Experiential job
  • Job meaningfulness
  • Job-characteristics
  • Material job

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