There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this new C-suite title – Chief Happiness Officer. While some call it out as being a `BS` position, others are building successful companies with the help of a Chief Happiness Officer.
I’ll admit, researching this topic was not as easy as I was expecting it to be. There are a lot of positions associated with this title. Some of them include specific happiness-related responsibilities while others are just nomenclature tweaks.
Is it really a new position?
A Chief Happiness Officer is, in its essence, an HR Manager with a special qualification: he/she believes happy employees make better employees.
Engaging employees, motivating them and raising performance levels are all HR attributions. Whilst these are the most common responsibilities used to describe the CHO position, there are many more HR areas where happiness matters.
Every single action towards a person regarding their relation with the company, meaning all HR processes, can be re-defined to ensure a happy experience and a happiness-driven workplace. Recruitment and onboarding, career planning, performance management, succession management, engagement and recognition, off-boarding and retirement, these are all areas that can benefit immensely from a happiness-oriented approach.
Ensuring that employees are happy is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). As an HR Manager, you can aspire to reach it by applying a series of values or principles to every single interaction with that employee (future, current or ex-employee alike).
1. Treat every person as a human being who matters
It does sound like the obvious thing to do but bad treatment is one of the biggest turnover drivers. Employees deserve to be treated like customers in terms of respect, vocabulary, actions and promises. Nothing entitles an employer to treat their workers like one big entity or a defected resources that did not perform to standard.
Nina Ramsey points out that, globally, only 44% of employees say that they feel valued by their employer. Respect is an essential component of a healthy work relationship.
2. Ensure the basics
Following Maslow’s principle, if the basic needs of an employee are not covered, there is no point in offering them a corner office with a view. Before you set out to make them happy, reward their work with an on-time salary and no unnecessary administrative struggles.
3. Give employees a voice
The unique individuals working for your company need to be heard. For that, they need proper channels, guidelines and an action path that ensures a response to their needs and ideas.
Whether it’s a follow-up call or email after an interview or a feedback on their activity, they need to know that someone is listening to them.
4. Make sure your company values are demonstrated
Almost every article or report on employee engagement will tell you that values are important. They are the foundation on which your company is build and they bind together your external image (your brand) with your internal one (your culture). Whenever you have a decision to make, a conflict to solve or a need to innovate, your starting ground should be those company values.
It’s not enough to have them on a piece of paper. You have to state them and constantly re-state them, put them into actionable behaviors and ensure that people demonstrate those values. For that to happen, you need to recruit people based on those values, evaluate them accordingly and reward them as such. Download our free personal development framework for employees and use it in your value-based recruitment process.
5. Offer them freedom
Take it from Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google: “If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.” (Source)
Offer them the freedom to manage their time and productivity, the freedom to personalize their working space and the freedom to implement their own ideas. If you’re in need of some inspiration, Shelley Prevost has 5 ways to create more autonomy at work that you can try.
6. Support growth
Sometimes people need someone to believe that they can grow. As an HR Manager, you can be that person at any stage in their work experience by pushing them to build on their strengths and take more opportunities.
Create and promote growth opportunities to harvest the talent you’ve recruited. That is, if you want to keep it.
7. Encourage an enjoyable environment
I didn’t use the word fun because it tends to mislead people into believing that it’s all about ping-pong and unending breaks. Instead I’m talking about the joy in having a qualitative conversation with a colleague or learning something new. Of course an occasional darts game can help re-energize you.
Yes, it’s important that people relax from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they are not productive. It goes back to the previous point, give them freedom and trust them to use it wisely.
8. Encourage effective teamwork
How teams perform is a clear indicator of how a company is performing overall. You might have recruited the best people but you need to have them work together and reach results. Very few people are naturally prone to perform well in teams.
This is where an HR Manager should step up and offer preparation, teambuilding exercises and constant support. Try the Happiness at Work Card Game for teams – the game consists of over 50 common workplace scenarios and over 100 science-based solutions. Each scenario identifies and provides context for a common workplace situation, followed by a succinct scientific justification for why it is a problem at work. The cards provide many unique practice opportunities that meet the needs and working styles of diverse teams.
Happiness – the secret ingredient
Happiness in the workplace has become a valid concern for both employees and managers alike. Dismissing it without further research and analysis is not a wise thing to do. We’ve recently discussed this idea in an article on Employee happiness as a business strategy.
For a CHO, happiness is the secret ingredient to add to your planning. By monitoring and analyzing the happiness levels in your organization, you will be able to accurately predict and manage employee engagement and employee retention.
Image licensed from Dollarphotoclub.com
Chief Happiness Officers? First time I have heard about this job title Paula.
Well, it’s real and it’s going to get more and more interesting as companies figure out how to quantify employee engagement and make the workplace work for the employee of tomorrow.
Hello Paula, I love this news! Always believed in every principle mentioned. I’m a lawyer, mediator and human development specialist and would love to apply to a CHO position. Any advise?
Hello Paula. Great article 👏
I’m writing a career plan as part of a psychology degree assignment and I’m including CHO and happiness engineers as part of my career development plan.
I hope to reference some of this article in my presentation to promote and raise awareness of these positions.
I have no desire to be HR but instead I’m more interested in the therapy route but without the label.
Again great writing ✍ and superb article
Mental & Emotional Health Coach
I just love this thought process. My job just closed our NJ office saying that this office did not get along. The real problem was that it is difficult to work for nasty employers and staff! How do i find a job like this? I am a mother of six and have worked my whole life, i just loved interacting with others.