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Updated Apr 10, 2024

How Hiring a Chief Happiness Officer Can Save Your Business

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations

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In recent years, workforce trends have shifted in favor of employees, and competitive pay isn’t the only thing workers expect of their employers; they also demand a workplace that cultivates a positive work-life balance. They want to work for a company that aligns with their values and prioritizes their overall happiness and satisfaction. In fact, Indeed’s 2022 Work Wellbeing Insights Report found that 46 percent of U.S. professionals increased their expectations around work happiness in that year alone.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking employees have become unnecessarily demanding, you might want to think again. Studies have shown time and time again that happy workers are good for business. If you expect to attract and retain top talent, employee happiness must be a priority. One effective way to make sure your staff is all sunshine and rainbows is to hire someone dedicated to making that happen: a chief happiness officer.

What is a chief happiness officer?

A chief happiness officer (CHO) is exactly what it sounds like: a C-suite executive whose sole priority is to make sure your employees are happy and satisfied within their roles, departments and workplace. Since employees spend an average of one-third of their lives at work, it’s important the employee experience entails more than just performing a task for a paycheck; it should also be a fulfilling endeavor. A CHO can take on a multitude of responsibilities to help achieve this, with the end goal of maintaining a happy workforce. 

Common CHO functions include the following:

  • Surveying and measuring employee happiness among individuals, teams, departments and the company as a whole
  • Implementing programs and activities that cultivate employee happiness and well-being
  • Training managers and supervisors on effective leadership [Learn how to test for leadership.]
  • Training employees on effective communication, conflict management and stress management
  • Working one-on-one with employees to create personalized happiness strategies
  • Supporting and encouraging employee growth and development
  • Addressing any area of the business where employee satisfaction is falling short

If your organization is experiencing issues with retention, or if you simply want to improve employee well-being and company culture, hiring a CHO can bring many happy returns.

How can a chief happiness officer help your business?

If you’re on the fence about hiring a CHO, make sure you genuinely understand how they can impact your business. These are some of the ways CHOs help the companies they work for.

1. They enhance employee motivation, performance and productivity.

The primary goal of a CHO is to improve employee engagement, happiness and satisfaction. While this may seem to benefit the employee only, it actually benefits your business as well. Happy workers tend to rank higher in terms of motivation, performance and productivity.

Being stressed at work causes employees to have difficulty concentrating and lose motivation to perform their best. Additionally, stressed employees are more likely to make errors and speak aggressively at work. With a CHO on hand to manage employee stress and satisfaction, employees are in a better position to perform well for the company. [Find out how stress impacts productivity.]

2. They reduce employee burnout.

Employee burnout can start slow, but as it grows over time, burnout can become detrimental to your business. A CHO can work closely with each employee to help stop burnout in its tracks. For example, they can ensure workloads are fair and equitable, listen to employees as their professional and personal demands evolve, and support team members in times of need. 

3. They promote employee health and well-being.

Preventing burnout is one way to promote employee health and wellness, but a CHO can do a lot more than that. They can consult with workers to identify and provide the types of health benefits and support they need to be physically and mentally healthy in the workplace. For example, a CHO might implement mindfulness meditation classes, exercise challenges and other supportive programs. They strive to ensure each employee feels valued and supported to achieve a positive work-life balance.

4. They encourage employee growth and development.

There’s a good chance you’re already aware of how important growth and development are to today’s workforce. Offering clear professional development opportunities not only helps you retain top talent, but also builds your employees’ skills and develops them into your organization’s future leaders. A CHO is focused on maintaining high satisfaction among your workers, which includes putting them on a path to learn new skills and grow professionally.

FYIDid you know

A recent survey by TalentLMS and Vyond revealed that 66 percent of U.S. employees think they need to develop new skills to be successful at work and 41 percent said they will look for another job this year if their company doesn’t offer them training opportunities.

5. They foster teamwork and a positive company culture.

Employee and manager relationships can have a lasting impact on the success of your organization. A positive workplace and company culture can lead to high-quality results and increased innovation and efficiency. Instead of having employees work in silos, your CHO can train staffers on effective communication and collaboration strategies and facilitate programs and events that foster teamwork.

6. They reduce employee tardiness and absenteeism.

Employee tardiness and absenteeism have costly effects on a business’s productivity, morale and resources. If a team member is consistently late or missing work, your CHO can consult with them to get to the root of the cause. Once they identify the reason for the issue, they can work toward a solution together. [Read related article: How to Stop Absenteeism in the Workplace]

7. They increase employee recruitment and retention.

Employees want to work for organizations that prioritize their happiness, and increasingly so. Indeed found that “80 percent of job seekers look for information about employee wellbeing when they are considering a job opportunity.” That’s a whole lot of potential team members you could lose out on if you fail to demonstrate how you contribute to employee happiness.

Even if you do manage to attract great employees without taking measures to foster employee happiness, you likely won’t keep them for long. According to Indeed, 20 percent of employees look for other jobs simply because they aren’t happy at work; other top reasons include lack of job satisfaction (24 percent) and feeling stressed at work (26 percent). These are all issues a CHO can combat.

TipBottom line

To reduce employee turnover, check out these reasons why employees quit and learn how to prevent them from doing so.

Should all companies have a chief happiness officer?

As with most things in business, whether or not your company should have a CHO depends on the specifics of your organization. Some people think a CHO is a needless title for responsibilities that are already taken on by other members of the company (e.g., the CEO or the chief human resources officer), yet others swear that a CHO is integral for company success. The best staffing decision for your business will depend on your organization’s specific goals and resources.

For example, small businesses and larger enterprises that have the capital to hire additional employees can benefit from having a high-level executive dedicated to maintaining employee happiness. This is especially true for organizations with company values centered on the employee experience. However, if you’re running a lean startup, you’re probably faced with the fact that each of your staffers wears multiple hats and you don’t have the capital to hire a highly paid leader who focuses solely on employee happiness. In this case, it’s still essential that employee happiness is a priority; you’ll just have to distribute related responsibilities amongst other managers or take them on yourself.

Bottom LineBottom line

If you want to remain competitive in today’s workforce, it’s critical that you have someone actively managing employee happiness – but whether that’s a chief happiness officer or someone else is up to you.

What companies have a chief happiness officer?

The CHO position has risen in popularity in recent years. Notably, some of the organizations that have found success in implementing this kind of role are big-name companies.

Here are some well-known businesses that have dedicated staff focused on employee happiness and well-being, though they aren’t all titled “chief happiness officer.”

  • Airbnb: Global Head of Employee Experience
  • Coca-Cola: Benefits and Well-Being Manager
  • Deloitte: Chief Well-Being Officer
  • Ernst & Young: Chief Well-Being Officer
  • Google: Chief Happiness Officer
  • Mount Sinai Health System: Chief Wellness Officer
  • Rakuten: Chief Well-Being Officer
  • Salesforce: SVP of Employee Success
  • SAP: Chief Happiness Officer
  • Siemens: Head of Wealth & Well-Being
  • TikTok: Global Well-Being Program Manager
  • Unilever: Chief Health & Well-Being Officer

These businesses’ continuing success is proof it can be beneficial to invest in your employees’ happiness and well-being.

How do you measure employee happiness?

Regulating employee happiness should be an ongoing task, and it’s vital to formally measure and assess employee happiness at least once or twice each year to know how your company is faring and where adjustments are needed. Here are some methods to measure employee happiness.

  • Ask your employees. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of employee happiness, just ask. Your CHO and other company leaders can gain consistent employee feedback through various channels, like regular one-on-one check-ins, recurring team member surveys and anonymous feedback forms. Giving team members multiple outlets to express how they feel will put you in the best position to identify what is and isn’t working.
  • Observe your employees. You can also measure employee happiness by observing your workers. High levels of employee productivity, strong performances and positive attitudes can be clear indicators of overall happiness. Happy staff members tend to have higher performance levels and cheery demeanors.
  • Track workforce trends. Another benchmark a business can use to measure employee happiness is attendance and retention. How often are workers tardy, absent or resigning from your organization? Is it just one specific role or department affected, or is it a companywide trend? Tracking employee attendance and turnover numbers can give you keen insight into happiness trends as your organization evolves.

Using some combination of these methods should provide you with a full picture of how happy – or unhappy – your employees are.

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a human resources writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has researched and written more than 300 articles on HR-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and HR technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products and services that help business owners run a smoother human resources department, such as HR software, PEOs, HROs, employee monitoring software and time and attendance systems, Skye investigates and writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.
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