Chief Happiness Officer. Oh, really?

Gamification rules the world. That’s one way of looking at the concept of Happiness Managers, people who are supposed to focus on making people happy at work. The other view says that work productivity will increase and turnover will decrease when employees are happy. And the third viewpoint says that engagement is important, and satisfaction and happiness have almost nothing to do with it. If I’m not happy, I’d rather not be engaged. And just being happy isn’t enough to be engaged in the life of the company either. I can take those moments of happiness and give nothing to the company in return. So how is that? Is it worth it for the company to employ that happiness coach?

This role first appeared, as it were, in Sillicon Valley. The competition in the job market there is immense and it is difficult for any start-up or established company to attract candidates for jobs. They all offer virtually the same thing and every job opportunity is amazing. Having a happiness helmsman proved to be a good idea to differentiate yourself from the rest and strengthen your Employer Brand and Employee Value Proposition.

Another, rather large group of companies, hoped to reduce turnover and increase productivity from this position. Implicitly, they were counting on the fact that a happy employee is a productive employee who, moreover, will not be lured away by the competition. Thus, he does not think about whether he would be better off in another company.

Eventually, this position became the new buzzword in Human Resources. As with any soft thing, assessing the real benefits is relatively difficult because there is no way to quantify the impact of such a decision.

Chief Happiness Officer: Most common tools to improve employee morale and engagement
Chief Happiness Officer: Most common tools to improve employee morale and engagement

However, the vast majority of modern organisations have started thinking about how to implement gamification and many companies have decided to establish Chief Happiness Officer positions. There has been the occasional minor problem of how to buy in employees to the idea.

Generally, the younger the staff of a company, the easier it is to push the idea. Coming up with the idea of having a person through the playfulness of, for example, the Job Centre, would probably not meet with much success. Officials don’t want to play, after all, they work hard. And it’s from eight to four, not a minute more.

So how does it work?

The Chief Happiness Officer is usually not directly in the Human Resources department. He or she is positioned to speak to and influence HR processes, Internal Communications and the leadership team of the organization or company as a whole.

It’s very much a contact role where the person in charge is interested in what the mood is in the company. This means speaking to many employees on a regular basis, conducting quick surveys and taking an active interest in what processes and procedures should be improved in the company.

However, he needs to clearly define where his role ends and the work of the HR department begins. Of course, he provides feedback to them and actively helps to change processes and procedures, where HR people may already suffer from a certain professional blindness.

The tangible benefits

Ultimately, this role can have a very positive impact on company culture. By being in constant contact with employees and conducting regular satisfaction surveys, they will naturally learn a lot of insights from across the organisation.

Then, of course, it’s up to how actively he can use the insights he collects and how he can influence the leadership of the organization to make the desired changes. Usually the easiest changes to implement are those that only require a financial investment, the hardest are changes in leadership style and decision making. However, these are often the areas where the buried dog lies, preventing higher employee satisfaction.

So if the main outcome is a differently executed Christmas party organisation, then this role in the company is rather disappointing. However, if the outcome is that everyone breathes better and innovation thrives, then the introduction of the role has been a success. And as always - it’s all about the people.