Future Friday: Is there a Chief Happiness Officer in your future?

by Michael Haberman on June 30, 2017 · 1 comment


Which comes first? Happiness or productivity?

In my reading I came across a discussion of happiness and productivity. The article, Rethinking Physical Workspace Helps Improve the ‘Human Experience’ for Employees, Says JLL, quoted results of a survey conducted by an office design and real estate firm. The quote that caught my eye was:

Nearly 70 percent of participants agreed that happiness at work is the best ingredient to guarantee a unique work experience. Nearly 90 percent of all respondents support the idea of having a Chief Happiness Officer at work, dedicated to employee wellbeing.

My first reaction was “What?” With all the titles being created today, such as Global Head of Employee Experience (AirBnB) or Executive Vice President, Global Employee Success (Salesforce) companies are getting away from the “traditional” title of HR, but Chief Happiness Officer?

Is happiness important?

There are many, many articles written about what is necessary at work to make employees productive members of the company that stay for more than a couple of years. One author suggests that “meaning” at work is important. If employees find meaning in what they do they will be more productive. Another author asks the question Are Happy Workers More Productive? He wonders if people have to be happy to begin with in order to be better workers or does being more productive make them happier? He concludes:

“…happy people become more successful and productive. People’s success in life, rather than being the cause for happiness, as we commonly think in our society, just may be the outcome of happiness. And that success includes being a more productive worker.”

In the blog called The Chief Happiness Officer Blog, author Alexander Kjerulf, says there 10 reasons why happiness is the ultimate productivity booster. His 10 reasons are:

  1. Happy people work better with others
  2. Happy people are more creative
  3. Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them
  4. Happy people have more energy
  5. Happy people are more optimistic
  6. Happy people are way more motivated
  7. Happy people get sick less often
  8. Happy people learn faster
  9. Happy people worry less about making mistakes – and consequently make fewer mistakes
  10. Happy people make better decisions

Kjerulf provides backing for his statements, so if you are interested you may want to click through to the article.

Finding the secret

Happiness to me is somewhat like motivation, it is different for everyone. Just like I believe you cannot motivate someone, only provide an opportunity for them to be motivated, you cannot make someone happy. You can provide an opportunity for them to be happy. JLL, the first company mentioned in this blog feels that their office designs can make employees happy, or at least provide the proper environment for them to be happy. Hey give me a nice office environment, better yet let me work from home, give me a nice big paycheck and leave me alone and I will be happy, many an employee may think.

The secret like motivation, if finding what makes an employee happy. Perhaps that would the role of the Chief Happiness Officer? For me, I would prefer not to have that title, it would make me unhappy and I think it takes away from the serious business role HR plays in today’s world.

What do you think? Is this a viable title of the future?


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gary Dumais July 1, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I think happiness stems from within, after basic needs are met (food, water, shelter, etc.). It’s also closely connected with resilience, or a person’s ability to flex and adapt to all the challenges life inevitably throws at us. And, perhaps the common thread, perception is crucial for cultivating happiness (e.g., the old adage about the glass being half full or half empty). I believe that if you teach others to see the positive, or the potential upside to situations (e.g., losing a job could lead to a better job, rather than being the end of the world), you’ll see many of the benefits you listed in your article (e.g., increased motivation, more energy, etc.).

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