Wellbeing: An Occam’s Razor Example of Case Studies

Wellbeing: An Occam’s Razor Example of Case Studies
Wellbeing: An Occam’s Razor Example of Case Studies


Over the course of human history, we have realized that for the growth of a society and economy, civilization and culture requires a constant set of economic activities. These economic activities driven by human labour are required no matter how much technological progress we make. Further, these economic activities are propelled by the need for a labor force.  A labor workforce is a collective of human beings who comes from different socioeconomic and cultural constructs. They drive the economic activities.

Happiness of a labor workforce is crucial for an economy or a larger society to stay happy. However, it is also important to understand how and which factors are impacting the labor workforce and in what way they are impacting. While their impact is being considered, one also needs to understand the degree of impact on various happiness indicators. This degree of impact can only be understood by trying to understand the hidden, latent factors which finally impacts the happiness and wellbeing of the individuals of a labor workforce. This is because, if a labour workforce in an employing economic sector is happy, the economy and the larger society are expected to attain a state of wellbeing. Well being is often defined by the mental health and state of happiness of people which is in reality a subjective context.

Well-being is a generic term and used frequently in a loose, rhetorical way in our day to day lives. In an Aristotelian definition, well-being is often seen from relational, material, and aspirational way. It also imbibes the concept of equity and fairness. Even a beggar who scores poorly in terms of material well being can exist at a higher level of happiness and well being in terms of relational wellbeing. The beggar can be contained with his or her state of mind, situation and be happy and more self contained and at peace than an individual staying in a sky scraper. Hence, wellbeing is a relative, debatable term. Development discourse and economics often defines wellbeing as a capacity to fulfill one’s need and sustain the basic needs of human life defined by access to clean food, water, house, clothes,

education, health and sanitation and various other indicators defined by the Sustainable Developmental Goals of UN.

In this regard, Amartya Sen has defined well-being through three distinct categories which are materialistic, social and relative. Furthermore, according to Sen’s definition, the three well being categories are stated as –

  1. Materialistic wellbeing of a person is defined as a state in which a person holds or earns a certain amount of regular income through which the person can get access to food, cloth, education and shelter for the individual and the larger family of the individual. 
  2. Social wellbeing refers to the attitude and behavior of a person and deals with the level of satisfaction or happiness of a person?
  3. Relative wellbeing refers to the comparative nature of human beings and it innately includes the desire to want more because other people have more of what they want.

It is assumed that with a growth in employment, income of individuals will go up and it will therefore enhance the material and psychological well being of individuals by providing them more liquidity and access to material aspects of life. However, this is in a large way a materialistic definition of wellbeing.

Literature provides an ample evidence of the relation between employment and psychological wellbeing. For instance, Cropanzano and Wright (2000) studied the happy worker hypothesis in which they conducted two field studies studying the relation between psychological wellbeing of individuals and job performance of employees and later compared between these two studies. 

The comparison of the studies showed that there was a positive relation between a happy worker with better psychological wellbeing and higher performance. The comparison showed that a “happy” worker with a relative higher psychological wellbeing often have higher performance than the worker with lower psychological wellbeing.

In a study conducted by Cooper et.al (2005)2, the predictors of labour productivity (i.e., in terms of work performance) were investigated with “A Shortened Stress Evaluation Tool”. Around 16001 employees were studied with 26 various occupations.  In the study, 3 variable parameters were studied and they were psychological wellbeing, physical well being and job satisfaction. The study found that people with more stressful occupations tend to have a lower psychological wellbeing and had the least job satisfaction in comparison to other people who had higher psychological well being and greater job satisfaction. Darko et.al (2021)found out that not all employed people are always happy.

Therefore, there is a need to understand the relation between wellbeing and work efficiency of the people from different sections of the society working in different sectors of the economy. This is because socio-cultural constructs and background do impact the wellbeing of people and hence on their efficiency in the workplace. After understanding the differential nature of impact of the socio-cultural constructs on worker efficiency, it is important to assess why the same or different factors impact workers in different working contexts in a varied form. Therefore, some of the questions that we need to ponder are –

  1. Is there any relationship between efficiency and the psychological wellbeing of an employee?
  2. Does higher income indicate better psychological wellbeing?
  3. Which sectoral employees have the highest job satisfaction?

In order to explore these questions, a survey based method was used focusing on age groups of 18 -30 and 30-40. The survey was conducted for employees from the private, government sector. Questions regarding their well being were asked and further insightful interview methods were applied to understand why they were in a certain state of well being.

Moreover, it was also found whether their status of wellbeing had any relation between their psychological wellbeing and efficiency in their respective workplaces. Indicators of wellbeing were marked on a scale of 1 to 5.  The well being indicators followed Cropanzano and Wright’s (2000)1 self-marked indicators. People were asked how often they get the following feeling (as stated in Table 1) in a week on a scale ranging from 1 to 5,with 1 being not at all and 5 being all the time. The factors related to the feeling were demarcated as Lonely, Depressed, Bored, Restless, Uneasy, Excited, Pleased, Top of The World. Within each category of the factors further sub-categorisation was created as – Very lonely or remote from other people (within lonely), Depressed or very unhappy (within Depressed), Feeling nothing interesting or nothing to do (within Bored), Restless and not able to sit in chair (within Restless), Uneasy (Uncomfortable in different situations), Excited (feeling enthusiastic), Pleased (feeling satisfied), On top of the World (Extremely Happy).

Various indicators were considered linking the wellbeing and efficiency of the workers. Cooper et.al (2005)2 discusses different factors affecting psychological wellbeing of an employee in the work place. The following factors were analyzed in the survey based study where each factor was being explained by a certain, specific descriptive questions like – a) How much do other people affect each other in a work place? Is it a healthy atmosphere? (Within Work Relationships), b) How the work place balances its extra work? And how is the nature of the job itself? (Within Overload), c) How much control does the employee has on its time? Is the job very binding in nature? (Within Control), d) What is the level of job security being given to the employee? (Within Job Security), e) Are the resources, tool or materials being given to the employee? (Within Resource and Communication), f) How much time does the job take of the employee on a daily and weekly basis? (Within Work Life Balance), g) What are the extra pays and benefits being given to the employee and how often are they given? (Within Pays and Benefits), h) To what level is the organization committed to their employee (Within Commitment of the organization to employee), i) To what level is the employee committed to their organization (Within Commitment of the employee to organization)

Psychological well being of child and teen aged labor are explained by various latent factors as explained by Darko et. al (2021). Some of these other latent factors which have been considered in the survey deals with the following questions – a) What is the condition of their household emotionally? What is the bond they share with their family? How supportive and listening their family members are? (Household Factor), b) What is the financial condition of their family? Do they inherit a good financial status or is it made up by them? How much financial support do their families give? (Wealth Factor), c) Have they faced any biases at work, home or any place due to their gender? How does their gender affect them? What are the extra responsibilities they have to take care of due to their gender? (Gender Factor),  d) How their childhood has been in terms of financial and emotional? What are the memories they remember the most? What do they crave the most from their childhood? (Childhood Health Factor),  e) Have they experienced any shock and how has it affected them? (Experience of Shocks Factor).


The survey findings using the above questionnaire framework clearly highlight that well being is not a homogenous concept at all within the employees of an organization. Different people with same set of inducing wellbeing factors behave differently in varied contexts. Even the same person can behave differently in terms of his or her well being under the same set of well being inducing factors. Hence, one set of policy is not enough to address the issues and challenges of wellbeing of human labour in workplaces. One individual can go through a range of well being emotions within the same organization under different working, cultural and larger societal, individual contexts. This can happen even with the presence of same set of well being incentives given by the organization. The insights emerging from the study and related to well being are therefore like an Occam’s razor where even one particular case study finding can be a distinct truth and no generalization can be done. A particular case study finding can act like an absolute truth for policy making. Keeping this in mind, 15 distinct people from different income, social and cultural backgrounds were interviewed for the research. An ethnographic analysis was conducted based on a questionnaire based method. Out of the total interviewed population, 33% was female and the rest being the male. In the survey most young employees were employed in private sector.

The findings from the study indicated that the human labour in the workplaces of the different economic sectors were enthusiastic, passionate and excited about their work. However, at the same time, more than 50% of them were also lonely. This indicated a situation, that while people who are joining the private sector to work are excited about to work with a dream about their future aspiration, they at the same time are lonely, depressed, bored and restless. Many of these employees are new employees who have a dream for their future and hence when they are joining the job market, they feel excited or at the top of the world. However, slowly that top of the world feeling has been fading away and is also complemented by emotions of loneliness, boredom.

The cause of concern is that there is a tendency of boredom which is setting in these workers making them lonely in future. Thus, the policy to address the well being of these labour work-force cannot be uni-dimensional or cannot be too rigid or restrictive. The policy has to give space to the multiple layers of conflict and feelings of the labour workforce which is ranging from depression, boredom, loneliness to extreme happiness and being at the top of the world. This indicates well being of the future society will be more complex to address as it is going to be marked by large range of conflicting individuals within the same person. Hence, a more, dynamic, innovative, malleable policy framework for addressing well being of labour work force will be required in future. Such a framework will also have to reinvent or re-innovate itself regularly to address the emerging, dialectical, conflictual challenges of wellbeing which a hyper consumerist, materialistic society is facing everyday in India.


  1. Cropanzano, R., & Wright, T.A. (2000). Psychological Well-Being and Job Satisfaction as Predictors of Job Performance. Education publishing foundation. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12655756_Psychological_well-being_and_job_satisfaction_as_predictors_of_job_performance
  2. Cooper, C., & Johnson, S., & Cartwright, S., & Millet, C., & Donald, I., & Taylor, P. (2005). The experience of work-related stress across occupations. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232516798_Work_Environments_Stress_and_Productivity_an_Examination_Using_ASSET
  3. Rajeswari, M., & Magesh, R. (2017). A Study on Psychological Well-Being among Employees of I.T Companies. Canadian Center of Science and Education. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318676104_A_Study_on_Psychological_Well-Being_among_Employees_of_IT_Companies
  4. Darko, C.K., & Carmichael, F., & Vasilakos, N. (2021) Well-being and employment of young people in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam: Is work enough?. Development Policy Review. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dpr.12565
  5. Mokona, H., & Yohannese, K., & Ayano, Getinet. (2020) Youth unemployment and mental health: prevalence and associated factors of depression among unemployed young adults in Gedeo zone, Southern Ethiopia. International Journal of mental health system. https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13033-020-00395-2
  6. Fisher, C.D. (2010). Happiness at work. International Journal of Management Reviews. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227533694_Happiness_at_Work
  7. Gil-Monte, P.R., & Salas-Vallina, A., & Pozo-Hidalgo, M. (2020) Are Happy Workers More Productive? The Mediating Role of Service-Skill Use. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00456/full
  8. Guerrero, R.F., & Salas-Vallina,A., & Alegre, J. (2018).  Happiness at work in knowledge-intensive contexts: Opening the research agenda. European Research on Management and Business Economics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2444883418300883
  9. Tordera, N., & Peiró, J.M., & Kozusznik, M.W., & Molina, I.R. (2019). The Happy-Productive Worker Model and Beyond: Patterns of Wellbeing and Performance at Work. Int J Environ Res Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388150/#__ffn_sectitle


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Wellbeing: An Occam’s Razor Example of Case Studies