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% of U.S. professionals have increased their expectations around work happiness in the past year alone.
If you’re shaking your head and thinking employees have become too 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 focus 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 that the employee experience entails more than just performing a task for a paycheck – it should be a fulfilling endeavor. Your CHO can take on a multitude of responsibilities to achieve this, with the end goal of maintaining a happy workforce.
Common chief happiness officer 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 business where employee satisfaction is falling short
If you’re experiencing issues with retention, or if you simply want to improve employee well-being and company culture, creating a CHO position can bring many happy returns.
How can a chief happiness officer help your business?
If you’re on the fence about hiring a chief happiness officer, make sure you genuinely understand how they can impact your business.
1. They enhance employee motivation, performance and productivity.
The primary goal of a chief happiness officer is to improve employee happiness, satisfaction and engagement. While this may seem to only benefit the employee, it actually benefits your business as well. Happy employees tend to rank higher in terms of motivation, performance and productivity.
Indeed’s employee wellness report found that 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.
2. They reduce employee burnout.
Employee burnout can start slow, but as it grows over time, it can become detrimental to your business. A CHO can work closely with each employee to help stop employee 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 employee burnout is one way to promote employee health and wellness, but a chief happiness officer can do a lot more than that. They can consult with employees 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 chief happiness officer is focused on maintaining high satisfaction among your workers, which includes putting them on a path to learn new skills and grow professionally.
5. They foster teamwork and 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 employees 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 chief happiness officer 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% of job seekers look for information about employee wellbeing when they are considering a job opportunity.” That’s a whole lot of potential employees you could lose out on if you fail to recognize their 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% of employees look for other jobs simply because they aren’t happy at work; other top reasons include lack of job satisfaction (24%) and feeling stressed at work (26%). These are all things a chief happiness officer can combat.
Tip: To reduce employee turnover, check out these reasons why employees quit (and how to prevent them from quitting).
Should all companies have a chief happiness officer?
As with most things in business, whether or not your company should have a chief happiness officer depends on the specifics of your organization. Some people think a chief happiness officer is a needless title for responsibilities that are already taken on by other members of your company (e.g., the CEO or the chief human resources officer), yet others swear that CHOs are integral for company success. Big names like Amazon, Airbnb and Google employ chief happiness officers, and the role does wonders for some businesses. But 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 around the employee experience. However, if you’re running a lean startup, you’re probably faced with the fact that each of your employees 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 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.
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 a year to know how your company is faring. 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 chief happiness officer 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 employees 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 employees tend to have higher performance levels and cheery demeanors.
- Track workforce trends. Another benchmark a business can use to measure employee happiness is employee attendance and retention. How often are employees 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 employee 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.