For many years, the American giant Google has been well known for taking particularly good care of its employees. It has tried to do everything to make the company a good place to work. Not only has it renamed its Human Resources department People Operations and hired social science researchers to study the organisation in a People & Innovation Lab, but Google has also appointed a Chief Happiness Officer.
Managing through well-being
Inspired by the newcomer, other HR directors have now renamed their position to Chief Happiness Officer, on the basis that their main function is to ensure all the company’s employees are happy. The CHO has the weighty task of ensuring employees have a high standard of working life or, in other words, creating the conditions for employees to be happy. A happy employee is an employee with clear, achievable goals whose skills are recognised.
Essentially, employees are happy when the conditions are right for them to feel comfortable in their professional environment. Being happy at work is not a completely new idea; it’s just taken on a different form at a time when many employees are saying they’re unhappy at work or are finding it hard to cope with all aspects of their working life. This has significant consequences for businesses.
When employees are happy at work, they’re more effective, more creative, more productive and more loyal and there is less absenteeism and sickness. So, aiming for a happy working environment is a wise decision if you want to combine performance with fulfilment. Did you know that a happy employee is sick half as often, is absent six times less, and is nine times more loyal, 31% more productive and 55% more creative?
Another trend is appearing among the general public in parallel to this: the desire to enjoy every act of their daily life. But how do you transpose this into corporate life? Where do you start? How far do you go? There are some interesting trials going on. For example, one CEO at the company GHC Healthcare Services states publicly that he breakdances! Although not everyone loves breakdancing, imagining your CEO breakdancing clearly gives them a fun side.
The idea of fun in companies is supported by evidence, explained Alexander Kjerulf, a specialist in happiness in the workplace. However, what’s much less evident is how to achieve it! Essentially you need to inspire happiness in others by having a fun, dynamic, friendly and energetic attitude. Hence the arrival of the Chief Happiness Officer within corporations!
The CHO’s aim is to look after employees’ well-being and foster motivation. There are many factors they can adjust, just as there are many different types of corporate culture. Everyone does it in their own style: by focusing on internal communication, promoting the employer’s brand, and whatever it takes to achieve a loyal workforce or a fulfilled team.
What does the company get out of it?
Of course, the company has to benefit too. So, what can it expect to get back? As Alexander Kjerulf explains, “happy employees make better decisions, manage their time better and have other skills essential to the leadership”. Creating the post of Chief Happiness Officer can at the very least be a statement that you take employees’ happiness seriously.
In fact, what teams think of it can be pretty varied and depends on the maturity of both the company and its employees. In terms of clear and attainable targets, we could mention: greater attachment to the company, and lower burnout and absenteeism rates, which can deliver a certain competitive advantage.
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