Continuing changes to the nature of work brought on by technological leaps (e.g. Kurland and Bailey, 1999), increasingly diverse workforces, changes to the traditional contractual nature of work (e.g. Barley and Kunda, 2006), and shifting industry demands make it necessary for researchers who study workers and their work environments to consider dynamic relationships at multiple levels within people and work organizations. Employees are consistently being forced to adapt to meet these changing work demands and a potential cost is personal well-being.
Much of this book focuses on how changing work environments and roles can influence the well-being of employees. It is also critically important to attend to the role of individual characteristics in this process. Throughout this chapter the terms “individual characteristics/differences” represent dispositions and more malleable personal qualities. We will provide a conceptual model that integrates many existing findings regarding these issues and offers a set of clear options for future exploration. We encourage readers to think critically about relationships between individual characteristics and well-being in their own research and practice.
This chapter begins with a discussion of the critically important, complex, and yet underdiscussed well-being criterion. Our conceptual framework is presented, followed by a selective review of research on individual characteristics associated with well-being that we feel are particularly relevant in a changing work environment. Finally, we provide a summary and thoughts for future work in this area.
Well-being and the workplace
There is no single, widely applicable theory of well-being.