Flow at work: A self-determination perspective

A.B. Bakker, M. van Woerkom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

794 Downloads (Pure)


Flow at work refers to a short-term peak experience that is characterized by absorption, work enjoyment, and intrinsic work motivation, and is positively related to various indicators of job performance. In an organizational context, research has predominantly focused on situational predictors of flow – including challenge job demands and resources. In this article, we propose that workers may also proactively create their own optimal experiences. We use self-determination theory to argue that all human beings have basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, as well as an inherent tendency towards proactivity and growth. We propose that workers may use four self-determination strategies to satisfy their basic needs, facilitate flow experiences, and, in turn, increase their job performance: self-leadership, job crafting, designing
work to be playful, and strengths use. Furthermore, we argue that factors within
the organizational context – such as human resource practices and leadership, as well as personal resources – such as self-efficacy and optimism, moderate the effectiveness of these strategies. Implications for theory, research, and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
JournalOccupational Health Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Flow at work: A self-determination perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this