Title Are you happy in your work (or retirement)?

With Dr. Stephanie Morgan (left), Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Director of Student Experience and Academic Development, Faculty of Business and Law, Kingston University.        

Stephanie is Director of Student Experience & Academic Development for the Faculty of Business & Law at Kingston University. She was previously Deputy Head of the Department of Leadership, Human Resource Management & Organisation, Course Director for the MSc Business/Occupational Psychology and course director for the MSc Leadership & Management in Health. Stephanie has an IT management background, with 20+ years experience in industry before switching to psychology.




There are many facets to what may be called ‘happiness’ and ‘well-being’. An important aspect of happiness which has been shown to reduce stress has been termed ‘Optimal Flow Experience’  (flow - Csikszentmihaly, 1997). Research has shown that ‘flow’ is achieved at work and at leisure but that we need to create the environment that facilitates this positive experience. Whilst this talk will focus on enhancing flow at work, there will be discussion of actions that can be taken to reduce the sometimes negative impact of retirement and enable an increased sense of happiness and well-being.

Flow experience is a short-term peak experience that is about absorption, enjoyment and intrinsic  motivation (doing something for pleasure rather than money). Flow can occur when we are doing our job and any similar activity like studying, or deep immersion in a hobby. Whilst we are experiencing this time flies and the task itself can be extremely pleasurable. The ‘highs’ experienced during flow, along with the long-term fulfilment resulting from repeated experience of this can lead to high levels of job or life satisfaction – we enjoy our tasks and derive deep satisfaction from the act of performing our work itself.  For example, in some of my work on teaching,  we showed that teachers report optimal flow experience and intrinsic enjoyment much more than comparative careers such as IT/telecoms, marketing, PR and administration and accounting – although lower enjoyment in the latter two are no surprise to me!

 When you experience Flow you feel:
•    Fulfilled — having a sense of meaning and purpose to work;
•    Excited — enjoy a variety and a broad range of interactions;
•    Satisfied — you feel enabled in your self development and derive pleasure from the task itself;
•    Enjoyment — your work can be an immediate source of long-term pleasure

Learn how you can optimise your chances of experiencing this enjoyment

In the session we will talk about other elements of motivation and engagement, including the role of other people, as well as the experience of flow itself, and how to enhance the opportunities to enjoy this experience both at work and leisure. We will assess what organisations can do to help staff experience flow at work, and briefly discuss potential issues some people face when they reach retirement, and how to increase the chance of enjoying extended leisure.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997) Finding Flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life. Basic books, New York.

There is a survey available where you can assess your current experience of flow (and in the session we will show how this compares with others). Whilst this is aimed at people at work, those who have already fully retired can still complete the survey but consider their leisure time (or a specific aspect of their leisure time, whenever you see the word ‘job’ or ‘work’. This survey also assesses your relationships with people at work, again those fully retired can consider relationships with any other people when they see the word ‘co-workers’.

Link to the motivation and flow survey:


Date 24/10/11
Contact Jeannette James
020 8399 6222
Location Room 1004, John Galsworthy Building, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road campus
Kingston upon Thames
(view map)
Cost Free

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