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Executive Education

How chief happiness officers can create mutually beneficial value in the workplace

What do SAP, Amazon, Google, and Airbnb have in common? They have all added a CHO, or Chief Happiness Officer, to their executive ranks in response to increasing evidence that happy workers are more productive, efficient, and engaged. Although there no is universally established definition of the role, CHOs are essentially responsible for the company’s overall happiness. A mutually beneficial practice for both companies and employees, focusing on employee happiness is not just a trend, but ultimately a long-term investment that makes real business sense.

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The rise of the chief happiness officer


Over the course of the last decade, statistics on employee unhappiness have been thought provoking. According to a 2013 Gallup report, only 30% of the workforce is engaged, and nearly 1 employee out of 5 is actively disengaged. In an even more revealing study released by CareerBuilder in 2019, 70% of workers say they do not feel satisfied in their careers.

Since the release of a groundbreaking 2015 study by the University of Warwick, which proved that happier employees are 12% more productive, many companies have realized that investing in employee happiness is beneficial for both their staff and the bottom line. Many companies have therefore decided that the most efficient way to develop the happiness factor in the workplace is to appoint a Chief Happiness Officer.

Where traditional Human Resource departments are mainly responsible for employees’ administrative and training needs, Chief Happiness Officers focus on more personal team values like satisfaction and future goals. By going above and beyond base values like fair salaries and good working conditions, CHOs help employees feel fulfilled by connecting their personal achievements with the company’s greater vision. By fostering more personalized social, growth, and empowerment opportunities, CHOs enable employees to actively support the company through more defined—and therefore more achievable—shared successes and goals.


Key benefits of happiness for companies and employees 


Attracting the right talent

In the age of company review sites like Glassdoor, potential hires can now gain valuable insights into employee happiness in specific organizations, before applying. Companies earning positive reviews from happy workers are therefore in a much better position to attract the best talents.

Identifying and resolving pain points

Having a dedicated CHO can help companies identify and resolve specific employee issues. CHOs can share this information and work directly with other internal stakeholders in order to find the best possible solutions and to focus on continuous improvement.

Continuous learning, endless growth

Gathering and implementing employee feedback effectively enables companies to develop more targeted and impactful training. Increasing employee job satisfaction and creating an ever-improving talent base ultimately leads to more productive and more sustainable organizations.

Work-life balance

Studies prove that the happiest companies offer flexible working hours. Their employees have higher energy levels and are more engaged, which makes them more productive and effective when they’re in the office. Studies also show that companies that offer more paid leave are the most efficient and happy.

Productivity through personalization

Employees spend just as much, if not more, time at work than at home, but working environments do not always reflect this reality. By not only allowing employees to personalize their workspaces, but actively incentivizing it, companies can motivate employees to invest more time and energy into their work.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Connecting the dots between teams, cross-functional departments, and leaders is the most effective way to foster authentic relationships and a shared vision. CHOs can encourage this behavior through company-wide talks, events, and workshops that capitalize on the collective talent and insights of everyone in the organization.


Happiness is a worthwhile investment 


Although the role of the Chief Happiness Officer is still a relatively new concept, an increasing number of companies are beginning to see the benefits of adopting this innovative approach to their human capital management. Having a dedicated CHO to ensure the happiness of all employees will become even more important as challenges like new technology, social changes, and environmental conditions continue to change the definition of work itself.