Predicting flow at work: investigating the activities and job characteristics that predict flow states at work

J Occup Health Psychol. 2010 Apr;15(2):180-90. doi: 10.1037/a0018893.


Flow (a state of consciousness where people become totally immersed in an activity and enjoy it intensely) has been identified as a desirable state with positive effects for employee well-being and innovation at work. Flow has been studied using both questionnaires and Experience Sampling Method (ESM). In this study, we used a newly developed 9-item flow scale in an ESM study combined with a questionnaire to examine the predictors of flow at two levels: the activities (brainstorming, planning, problem solving and evaluation) associated with transient flow states and the more stable job characteristics (role clarity, influence and cognitive demands). Participants were 58 line managers from two companies in Denmark; a private accountancy firm and a public elder care organization. We found that line managers in elder care experienced flow more often than accountancy line managers, and activities such as planning, problem solving, and evaluation predicted transient flow states. The more stable job characteristics included in this study were not, however, found to predict flow at work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Denmark
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Description*
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires