The Secrets of Employee Engagement & Happy Work Places

Fascinating insights into the psychology of flourishing organizations, employee engagement and happiness at work.
A co-production of the Erasmus Center of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology and EHERO – Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization.

  • How to go from satisfaction to engagement and fulfilment?
  • How to prevent burnout and bore-out?
  • How to design an optimal work place?
  • Which top-down and bottom-up approaches help to become a flourishing, thriving organization?
  • Which leadership behaviors are crucial for team work engagement and performance?
  • How can leaders inspire, empower and contribute to the well-being and performance of their followers?

Life is too short to be unhappy at work. Yet, many professionals who are free to shape their careers are just that: disengaged, unfulfilled, unhappy.

Introduction to the Masterclass

85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or actively disengaged at their work, according to Gallup’s 155-country study on the State of the Global Workplace (2017). It is widely recognized that for organizations to flourish and be successful in the short and long term, people are a vital asset to any organization and employees play a crucial role. Research from the Erasmus Center of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology has shown how engagement is related to bottom-line outcomes such as job performance, and how working on strengths brings profit and enables individual employees to be more positive and purposeful in their work.

The economic upside of elevating work engagement on the bottom-line is enormous, and a great example of win-win-win: a win for the individual, a win for the organization and a win for society.

Yet, how do we do that? Introducing the Executive Masterclass on the Secrets of Employee Engagement & Happy Work Places with one of the world’s most renowned and leading experts on engagement and the psychology of work and organizations, prof. Arnold Bakker will discuss the results of his most recent research. Prof. Bakker is one of the most cited scientists in the world on work and organizational psychology, and has been included in the Thomson Reuters’ 2015 list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”.

Every day, our work behavior is guided by the emotions we experience. When feeling tired or sad, we have little energy to deal with the complexity of work life. When feeling happy or enthusiastic, we are open to new experiences and can be creative and productive. How can we use these insights from positive psychology to make our organizations flourish? In this two-day Executive Masterclass, we first discuss the science of positive emotions and work engagement – and possible ways to design happy work places. On day 2, we continue with the application of evidence-based strategies to build flourishing organizations.

Job design and the Power of Positive Emotions

When people experience positive emotions, they can do one of two things: look back on what has been accomplished, relax, and be satisfied, or look forward with enthusiasm, and invest all energy in work to accomplish new things. Thus, positive emotions are not just positive – they are also more or less active. Research has revealed that individuals have most creative ideas and are most productive when they experience active positive emotions, like enthusiasm, interest, and excitement. Using this micro perspective on organizational behavior, organizational psychologists have started to study the architecture of happy work places, and begun to investigate what managers and employees can do to design enriched tasks and jobs so that organizations can flourish.    

Modern organizations are confronted with global challenges. In order to be competitive, organizations need to be flexible and need to have flexible employees who are passionate about their work. To foster positive emotions and work engagement, organizations need to offer challenging tasks, combined with sufficient resources. When employees have access to social support and feedback, and can use autonomy and skill variety to do their work, they are well equipped to deal with the daily uncertainties and job challenges.

On the first day of this Executive Masterclass, participants learn about the science of positive emotions, and about the optimal architecture of tasks, jobs, and organizations. We apply scientific theories to design optimal work places. We consider the job demands and resources that influence employee emotions and well-being, and discuss the role of leaders in fostering a climate for engagement. The Job-Demands Resources model (JD-R) is the most widely-cited theoretical model of employee work engagement and used in many countries around the world to predict employee burnout and engagement, role performance and consequently organizational performance, creativity and financial returns. We also analyze the daily conditions that foster creativity, and review the literature to get better insight in conditions that inspire radical, out-of-the-box forms of creativity.

Flourishing Organizations

On day 2, we explore strategies that can be applied to build flourishing organizations and happy work places. One possibility is to encourage job crafting – proactive behavior through which employees optimize their own job demands and resources, and redesign their own work place to experience meaning and perform well. Another strategy is to make the best use of employee character strengths, like social intelligence, persistence, and humor. Participants will identify their own top strengths, and learn about new ways to use these strengths at work. Use of strengths has been found to be extremely effective in fostering happiness, engagement, and performance, because individuals who use their strengths are at their best, can be authentic, and have high levels of self-management and self-efficacy. We discuss various additional bottom-up strategies employees can use to increase their work engagement, including proactive vitality management and playful work design. The latter strategy uses fun and competition to make work activities a more worthwhile experience and to increase meaningfulness and performance.

In this first European Executive Masterclass about the secrets of employee engagement and the architecture of happy work places we will:

  1. Discuss the role of positive emotions and work engagement
  2. Explain the design of happy work places
  3. Facilitate exercises to learn more about strategies to build flourishing organizations.

Target group

CEOs, HR leaders and managers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and their trusted advisors who are interested to learn about the most recent scientific insights in positive emotions, work engagement, flourishing and happiness at work, and want to explore new ways of working and how they can use this knowledge in the context of the organizations they lead or work for.

Program management

Drs. Guy van Liemt RM, Program Director ESAA Executive Happiness Programs and Executive Director EHERO.

Speakers include:

  • Prof. dr. Arnold Bakker
  • Prof. dr. Evangelia Demerouti
  • Dr. Marianne van Woerkom
  • Dr. Pareskevas Petrou
  • MSc. Yuri Scharp


Day 1 is entitled The Science of Positive Emotions and Employee Engagement.

Day 2 explores The Application of Strategies to build Flourishing Organizations & Happy Work Places.

Practical information

Tuesday April 16 and Wednesday April 17, 2019 on an engaging location in the centre of the Netherlands. This intensive program will be in English. There is room for maximum 30 participants.

Price: € 1.950, free of VAT. Includes 2x lunch and 1x dinner. You can stay over at the location or nearby at additional costs.

Sign up

You can sign up by filling out the application form. We prefer to receive your registration before 1 April.
For all practical details and further information please contact the Program Coordinator:

Aartie Bhawaniebhiek

010 - 408 14 15
Van der Goot Building | Building

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PARotterdam


ESAA Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam

Co-production Erasmus Centre of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology & EHERO
The Executive Masterclass The Secrets of Employee Engagement & Happy Work Places is a co-production of the Erasmus Center of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology and EHERO – Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization.

Erasmus Centre of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology
Erasmus Centre of Excellence for Positive Organizational Psychology is the only research centre in Europe that specifically focuses on the positive psychology of resources, talents, strengths and excellence in an organizational context. Work is vital for sustaining vital cities and active citizens, and is of increasing importance in the context of an ageing population and a longer working life. The centre is developing a name world-wide in the development of new and creative approaches to sustainable work engagement.

Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) is a scientific institute where happiness is studied. Happiness is defined as the subjective enjoyment of one's life as a whole. EHERO’s mission is to contribute to greater happiness for a greater number of people. EHERO does this by providing evidence-based knowledge about happiness, with the aim of promoting better informed choices throughout society, be it at the level of governments, organizations or individuals.

EHERO provides evidence-based knowledge by gathering existing knowledge, developing new knowledge through research and spreading knowledge through education. EHERO is based in the Erasmus School of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Participants also work in other faculties of Erasmus University and in other universities. More info at


"Enthusiastic employees excel in their work because they maintain the balance between the energy they give and the energy they receive."

— Prof.dr. Arnold B. Bakker


  • Erasmus School of Accounting & Assurance is als onderwijsinstelling erkend door de NBA en is daardoor gerechtigd PE-uren toe te kennen aan onderwijsactiviteiten. Het aantal PE-uren voor deze Masterclass bedraagt 12 uren.