What does a Chief Happiness Officer actually do?

Kasia Kern - March 7, 2018 - 0 comments

Another day, when we were putting our sons sleep, my husband was reading one of the boy’s favourite book – „Winnie The Pooh” by A.A. Milne. Sometimes, I can’t believe how real and up to date the adventures are of those heros in that book, and what is even more surprising how much of it can be related to the work environment. While I was thinking about my next article for a blog about Chief Happiness Officer job description, I just hear this:

When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”

How not to smile? It is exactly true. Each of us is different. Each of us has a different thought at the early morning, and going forward, different definition of happiness. How the hell Chief Happiness Officer can make all of those different creatures happy? It might seem impossible.
I used to repeat this quotation: “It is only impossible until it is done”. My team would know what I mean very well.

Chief Happiness Officer like many newly created roles has many definitions and for some is seen as critical role to the organisation, and for some like just another name of HR manager or engagement specialist. I believe the Chief Happiness Officer has wide and strategical role in an organisation which is ready for it. Its clear that today, not all companies see the happiness of employees as a priority. But for those which decide to invest in this area, positive changes within employees will be very visible not only on their faces but also in financial results.

Scientists (*see references to the sources below) have proved that happier people are more engaged, productive and deliver higher quality work. They are also more collaborative and innovative. Happiness is decreasing staff turnover and sick leave and increasing customer loyalty, people development and employee loyalty. Happy employees are healthier, more energetic and less stressed. Have you ever worked in the team where you felt a sense of belonging and safety? Where you could be yourself and you have a lot of fun every day while also delivering exceptional results? It is possible and how to get there it is exactly what the Chief Happiness Officer helps an organisation to do.

It is not a magic, its actually really simple, yet its not always easy to implement as this requires changes in attitudes, behaviours and often in values. When a company achieves this, they are becoming unstoppable. So, that said, the main focus of a Chief Happiness Officer is to work closely with Boards, Leaders, HR, and employees to transform an organisation into the place where:
• People feel safe and respected
• People feel that they belong and have strong relationships
• People feel valued and appreciated
• People have a clear understanding of their role in the organisation
• People demonstrate clear and transparent bi-directional communication
• People feel heard and are able to impact their surroundings
• People participate in creating direction of organisational goals
• People are involved in creating a great organisational culture
• People are allowed to make mistakes
• People are given space for taking responsibility and ownership
• People openly share knowledge and experience to develop others

In addition to this, its also the role of the CHO to ensure employees are ready for the future through being taught new skills to cope in such environments
• People are taught how to be facilitator
• People are trained from interpersonal skills, communication, leadership, emotional intelligence, productivity and others
• People are educated and coached on healthy habits such: sport, nutrition, mindfulness, dealing with stress, relaxing, resting
• People have space and time for their own development
• People has flexibility of working hours and time off
• People are encouraged to show vulnerability and asked for help
• People are not assessed but encourage to focus on their skills and potential
• People are encouraged and appreciated for making enjoyable work atmosphere
• People are encouraged for helping other and giving back to the local communities
Those are just 20 main items, but it could me more and I believe that it will be more, while Chief Happiness Officer roles will grow and develop, organisations will soon realise the positive impact of those activities being translated into innovation, growing employee’s potential, gaining customer satisfaction and achieving better results.
You will probably wonder what kind of competencies and knowledge Chief Happiness Officer should have to be able to influence such changes. I believe that experience in business and especially in HR is very needed, strategic thinking, excellent communication and influencing skills are a must. Being stubborn and also patient will be helpful. Creativity and constant learning are required in this role. But the most important is to put people first and see potential in them, even if they don’t see it yet.

As a closing sentence, let me share with you another, genius citation from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne:
Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh:

„Promise me, you will always remember: you are braver than you belive, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

• Happiness made people around 12% more productive. (source: Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick)
• Happier people are more engaged and productive and do higher quality work. (Source: Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. A., & Diener, E. (2005). Psychological Bulletin)
• People who are happier at work get promoted more quickly and are less likely to lose their jobs. (Source: Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Journal of Career Assessment)
• The skills that are key to happiness are also the “21st Century Skills” that employers are looking for today, including strong collaboration and interpersonal skills. (Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers; Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008)
• Leaders high in social and emotional intelligence are more likely to have satisfied employees and to retain their positions of authority. (Source: Keltner, D. (2016) The Power Paradox. New York: Penguin Press.)
• Hughes, J.; Bozionelos, N. (2007). “Work-Life Balance as Source of Job Dissatisfaction and Withdrawal Attitudes- An Exploratory Study on the Views of Male Workers” (PDF). Personnel Review.
• Fisher, Cynthia D. (2010-12-01). “Happiness at Work”. International Journal of Management Reviews. 12
• GAVIN, JOANNE H.; MASON, RICHARD O. (2004-12-01). “The Virtuous Organization:: The Value of Happiness in the Workplace”. Organizational Dynamics. Healthy, Happy, Productive Work: A Leadership Challenge.
• Bhatti, K.K.; Qureshi, T.M. (June 2007). “Impact Of Employee Participation On Job Satisfaction, Employee Commitment And Employee Productivity”. International Review of Business Research Papers.

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