Contented workers, we are told, are productive, loyal and collaborative. But in the current environment of talent wars, just how content do they have to be to stick around rather than casting longing glances at the competition?

Research generally looks at the two components of contentment: satisfaction and happiness. The Stone and Beatles, respectively, explored these states of mind in pop songs. But more important, how are they defined within the context of the workplace? And what is the difference between a satisfied worker, and a happy one?

Two studies were produced this year that may help address the issue, and guide employers toward the right amount of contentment among workers that will foster the desired outcomes: productivity and loyalty.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.