Business News

What are Chief Happiness Officers and are they becoming more important post-pandemic?

Wellbeing initiatives in the workplace have become increasingly popular since the pandemic and Chief Happiness Officers, as their name suggests, play an important role in employee wellbeing. But what exactly are they and is their role changing? Business Leader investigates.

What does the role of a Chief Happiness Officer entail?

The Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) is the C-suite level member of staff responsible for managing the happiness of employees. Business Leader spoke to Sarah Metcalfe, the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Coffee Consulting, who told us a bit more about what the role entails.

She said: “The goal of a Chief Happiness Officer is to create a workplace that fills people up with positive energy. Being a Chief Happiness Officer is all about working in an organisation to create happier, healthier, and more thriving workplaces for the people who work there. Creating a culture where we put people first, and work first on their happiness and wellbeing.”

Some of the specific duties of Chief Happiness Officers may include:

  • Creating programs that aim to improve employee satisfaction and well-being
  • Working with employees to identify areas of improvement and developing strategies to address them
  • Coaching managers on how to be effective leaders and create a positive work environment
  • Training employees on how to deal with stress and navigate difficult conversations
  • Compiling employee feedback and using it to improve company culture.

According to Metcalfe, who helps companies through happiness training programmes, anyone can be a happiness officer too, provided you are passionate about people and create environments that allow workers to be their best selves at work.

She said: “We have trained people from frontline support staff, IT, managers, HR, GP’s, engagement teams all the way up to CEO’s to be Chief Happiness Officers.”

Did the role change during the pandemic and has it changed post-pandemic?

When the pandemic forced businesses to shut and people to stay at home, many felt frustrated, sad and lonely. As a result, many organisations started introducing wellbeing initiatives to improve the happiness of their staff.

But according to Metcalfe, whilst the pandemic was the cause of this cultural shift, it did not change the role of Chief Happiness Officers.

She said: “I don’t believe the role itself has changed so much as the fact that organisations have had to realise that putting their people first, investing in their health, happiness and well-being is the number one factor which is helping attraction, retention and business success. Those organisations who have thriving individuals and happier workforces have not only done better during the pandemic (Nic Marks, FridayPulse) but have recovered faster.

“This means that the role of happiness or well-being officers is becoming more popular as we move away from the idea that we can throw money at people or at solutions, and realise the critical thing is to focus on a more human-centric form of work, where we put relationships, and support above profits.”

Are employers doing more to keep staff happy?

One of the biggest trends we’re seeing in the UK is known as the Great Resignation, where people are leaving jobs in huge numbers to find roles that better suits their needs. Back in May, this resulted in there being more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK.

Interestingly, research from Ipsos also found that one in two British workers were considering a new role, and the main causes of job satisfaction for these workers were the type of work, work-life balance and work colleagues. Burnout is another factor in the UK’s high resignation rates.

Bearing these statistics in mind, we asked Metcalfe whether organisations were doing more to nowadays to keep staff happy and whether wellbeing initiatives had changed in recent years.

She said: “One of the major shifts that we are happy to see has been where organisations have previously put their money into perks, benefits, office layouts, gym memberships etc., we now see a decided move towards focussing on things that ultimately create happiness for their people.

“Companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to make employees happy (or engaged) by investing in perks, bonuses, free fruit, free coffee, “enforced” fun, free smoothies, etc. These things do not make people happy at work. Happiness at work comes from doing great work together with great people.

“Our definition is that it is comprised of meaningful results and meaningful relationships, and we have a framework that we teach our clients to help look at what works and what doesn’t.”

So, is there anything more that employers can do to ensure their workforce is happy?

“Having open conversations about happiness at work, having a clear definition of what you mean by happiness at work, giving time and space to explore that, and to invite questions, comments and challenges,” continues Metcalfe. “I would also recommend making it something that is supported by senior leadership and executive sponsors but run by people from all levels of any organisation.”

However, according to Nicola Hemmings, Workplace Scientist at Koa Health, a big cultural change is needed to improve the staff mental health and employee retention.

When commenting on the news that a lawyer at Clifford Chance had suggested recruiting a Chief Happiness Officer as the answer to midlife burnout and the Great Resignation, she said: “First and foremost, it’s great to see law firms discussing workplace wellbeing and it must be commended. But firms must take stronger steps in the right direction, beyond simply appointing Chief Happiness Officers.

“For starters, happiness is an emotion that is fleeting – it’s not an end state. Instead of increasing happiness or joy (both of which are still important), we should aim for engaged and well employees. This is done through structural change and with the buy-in across leadership and the business.

“You need to match the intervention with the problem and culture. This manifesto, although well intended, has not done that. If there is a mismatch between wellbeing and employee engagement, interventions can fall flat and even cause harm. Yes, a Chief Happiness Officer may be in place, but are associate-level lawyers still expected to miss personal, milestone events to meet client deadlines? Will pay be reviewed to ensure fair allocation across the organisation, and will the recovery time be implemented for those that have put in the often necessary, long hours?

“For now, the manifesto shows the beginning of a shift from reactive to proactive when it comes to supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace. But that’s not enough. Individual mental needs need to be better supported by providing personalised and accessible resources. In addition, the culture needs to shift. This can be achieved by changing structural processes to support sustainable and engaging ways of working for employees”.

So, whilst Chief Happiness Officers might become more common as companies look for new ways to retain staff and keep them happy, the efforts of CHOs might not be quite as effective unless hiring them forms part of wider structural change.

The post What are Chief Happiness Officers and are they becoming more important post-pandemic? appeared first on Business Leader.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.