Doesn’t a Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) sound like a delightful thing? Well, it is, and it’s also a very real job that many companies are now hiring for. The research in this area is unequivocal: happier employees are more productive, stay with the company for longer, and boost your revenues.
Today we’re going to be looking at the role of Chief Happiness Officer and all the reasons you should start looking for one. Let’s take a look.
What Does a Chief Happiness Officer Do?
As the name implies, a Chief Happiness Officer is responsible for boosting and maintaining happiness levels within the organization. They ensure that employees are doing something they’re good at; their managers support them and have the tools they need to do their job effectively.
Why Do You Need a Chief Happiness Officer? 9 Reasons to Start Looking For the Perfect Applicant
1. Workplace Happiness is Declining
Happiness is a science. It’s not as easy as adding a few employee perks and hoping that will take care of everything. In fact, recent studies have shown that employees are actually less happy in our workplaces than they were a few years ago. In 2019, 41% of employees said they were happy at work, compared with 43% in 2018 and 51% in 2017.
2. Employee Enthusiasm is Declining
Much like employee happiness, employee enthusiasm is also declining. In 2017, 52% of employees said they were enthusiastic about their job most of the time. Just three years on, and this has decreased to only 41%. It should come as no surprise that the less enthusiastic employees are, the less productive they will be.
3. Happiness Becomes a Shared Responsibility
One issue with managing employee happiness without a CHO is that unhappiness becomes about individuals. For example, if employees don’t feel supported in their role, this can be blamed on poor managers or a less than effective work station. When, in reality, unhappiness rarely comes from one source. It’s usually a culmination of factors that all build-up to an overall unhappy experience. When you have a CHO, the blame is taken away from individuals, and the focus is on the big picture. The focus becomes on the systemic ways that your workplace structure and culture affect employees. You can make significant changes that apply to all teams and bring everyone together, rather than assigning blame.
4. Boosting Creativity
Creativity is what turns okay businesses into great businesses. New ideas become new products, strategies and take us to new heights. It’s what keeps us pushing forward in a rapidly evolving world. Staying competitive is all about being creative. The simple truth is, we can’t be creative when we’re not happy. Despite our best efforts, you can’t force creativity. New ideas come to us when we’re feeling excited and energized, not when we feel overworked, tired, and undervalued. Employees have to feel a sense of purpose in the company to want to see the company succeed.
5. It Shows You are an Employee-Centric Company
Employees are the lifeblood of your business, and they know it. Your employees want to feel valued, appreciated, and proud of where they work. Most companies strive to be customer-centric, and that’s great, but you can be both. Your employees shape your customers’ experiences, so if you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers. Who would you rather have talking to your customers? An employee who has been with the company for a long time and has an in-depth knowledge of your business and customers? Or an employee who has just come in and might leave soon because you don’t offer a great work environment?
Put simply, people want to work at companies that care about their happiness, and they’re more likely to stay with these companies (you can reduce employee turnover rates).
6. Your Competitors Are Doing It
There has been a sharp increase in CHO roles in the last few years as companies begin to understand the transformative value of boosting employee happiness. If you sit on the decision for too long, and employee happiness continues to trend downwards, you could see yourself getting left behind. How your employees feel has a real effect on your organization’s success, so it’s time to start acting like it.
7. Attract Talent to Your Company
If you take good care of your employees, then they’ll spread the word about how great you are. Today, there are all sorts of review sites like Glassdoor, where employees can anonymously share their working experiences. You can no longer control the narrative by writing blog posts about how great you are or getting a few employees to spread the good word. People today vet the companies they consider working for.
At the time of writing, Coronavirus is still causing havoc on world economies, and unemployment rates are still high (although lower than at the beginning of the pandemic). However, before the pandemic, unemployment rates were down in most places across the world. When employment rates are high, and unemployment is low, employees have much more power. The pool of people companies can pick from is much smaller, and they have to compete to get the best talent. To stay competitive, you have to make your company an attractive place to work.
8. To Motivate and Reward Employees
Employees have to feel motivated to continue to do excellent work. If they’re not continually praised and rewarded for their hard work, they can start to wonder why they’re doing it at all. Unmotivated employees can be a drain on your workplace, bringing others down and generating low output.
9. It’s Cost-Effective
A CHO will cost you a salary and company benefits, but you’ll get a whole lot more back. Studies have shown that employee happiness initiatives have a high ROI when done right, and the best way to do them right is to put someone at the wheel. With a Chief Happiness Officer, it’s someone’s sole job to boost employee happiness and morale. This means you don’t have to worry about employee happiness projects getting pushed to the side because of budget issues or something “more critical” coming up.
What Makes a Great Chief Happiness Officer?
After deciding to hire a CHO, next, you need to know what you’re looking for in an applicant. So, what traits make a great CHO?
- Human – First and foremost, they need to be a people person. They need to have a passion for people and want to see others succeed.
- Mindreading – A great CHO needs to understand human emotion, even when someone doesn’t explicitly express it. Depending on your company culture, some employees might not feel comfortable coming forward with their true feelings, so a CHO needs to be able to get to the bottom of things.
- Curious and creative – CHOs have to have an inquisitive mind. They have to be curious enough to be a happiness detective but also inventive enough to come up with solutions.
- Adventurous – They have to boldly try out new ideas without handholding. They need to be confident in their convictions.
- Utilizing data – Today, companies have more employee data available to them than ever before. A great CHO needs to know how to utilize this data to find actionable insights.
Tips to Succeed as a Chief Happiness Officer
Sharing is Caring
Shared experiences help bond us together and make work more than just work. Sure, people go to work to make money, but they also go to make friends, get praised, and improve themselves. Here are some of the ways you can focus on sharing to enhance employee happiness:
Shared Experiences over Food
Many companies have found that hosting buffets throughout the workday or converting the canteen to a sit-down restaurant with a set menu once a week helps bring people together. These meals allow employees to talk about things other than work or even share ideas in a less formal environment.
The key is to make it a regular event that everyone is encouraged and expected to attend. Everyone should be included. If you have employees who need to be on the phones at all times, then you can stagger their meal times to ensure that everyone gets to participate. A significant source of friction in companies is when some employees feel left out. If you make people feel excluded, then they’ll conclude that you value them less than your other employees. This harms happiness levels and productivity.
Sharing Knowledge and Purpose
Thomas Vibe Hansen, Happiness Manager at IT company Ageras, makes each team stand up after lunch and share a story about “why we are here.” The idea here is to build a shared sense of purpose where each team can understand and feel pride in how they contribute to the company and the broader goals of the company. Often, when we go into the office every day, we can forget why our work is essential and how it connects to the bigger picture. But having a sense of purpose and pride in your work is what leads to higher job satisfaction levels.
Of course, depending on your company’s size, it might not be feasible for someone from each team to give a 5-minute speech after lunch every day. However, the key takeaway from this strategy is that companies often focus so heavily on time = productivity that we’re scared to set aside any time for tasks that aren’t directly tied to making money or completing work tasks. Sometimes, taking 5 minutes out of the day to boost morale can actually increase your revenues more than spending 5 minutes more completing work tasks. Human beings aren’t machines, and to maintain high productivity levels, we need an injection of happiness and excitement throughout the day.
20% of Time on Side Projects
Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time on side projects. Google Maps, Gmail, Groupon, and Slack all started as side projects. Sometimes you can enter an entirely new market by giving your employees the freedom to be creative and think of new products and services. If employees are always worrying about completing their job’s main tasks, they’ll expend all their creative energy and struggle to come up with new ideas.
Doing Something Else For 20 Minutes a Day
The idea of this is to get all employees to take a break and focus on something else different from their job. It could be baking a cake, writing, going for a walk -anything that can rejuvenate their focus.
Listen to Employees
You can’t start to improve employee happiness without first understanding what makes your employees tick. You should listen to individual concerns and collect feedback. You can do this through employee surveys or drop-in sessions. But it’s also essential to build a new future by implementing some strategies around team bonding and strengthening.