Is it possible to enjoy something that takes up a third of our day and which we do out of necessity? In other words, is it possible to be happy at work? It seems so – more on that later.
On the opposite side, unhappiness at work makes people perform worse, become more tired and more open to change companies. To address this issue, some organisations have created the figure of the ‘Chief Happiness Officer’. Their objective? To promote an environment in which employees feel valued and motivated, thereby improving people’s quality of life, underpinning organisational culture and optimising performance efficiency.
What will I read about in this article?
Causes and consequences of unhappiness at work
Do you remember Charlie Chaplin’s film “Modern Times”? Through his character, the Worker, Chaplin presents a sharp and bittersweet view of the working experience in industrialised society.
This work of silent cinema highlights the dehumanisation that can come with mechanised labour. The Worker becomes an extension of the machine, just another cog in the giant wheel of industrial progress. A situation shared by many workers today, who can often feel like insignificant cogs in a larger corporate machine, with no meaning or purpose to their work.
Unhappiness at work can have significant consequences, both for the individual and for the workplace as a whole. Gallup’s latest global job satisfaction survey reveals that 59% of employees are disengaged with their organisation. According to their analysis, these people are sitting and watching the hours tick by on the clock. It’s what they call “silent resignation“. They make minimal effort and are psychologically disconnected from the company. They’re also more likely to be stressed and burned out than engaged workers because they don’t feel involved and valued in their workplace.
“59% of employees are neither satisfied nor engaged with their organisation”.
Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP. But beyond organisational results, these figures show that millions of people are not enjoying the activity that takes up most of the best hours of their week.
Leadership and management directly influence engagement in the workplace, and there‘s much that organisations can do to help their employees develop professionally and ultimately ensure the company’s own performance, as a 2021 study by the University of Warwick concluded that happy workers are 12% more productive.
The transformative role of the Chief Happiness Officer in the work environment
Unmotivated people are often looking for a reason to get out of the unhappy state of work they’ve found themselves in. As the report says, they don’t want to remain apathetic, they want to be inspired and motivated. And it’s up to leaders to achieve this.
The figure of the Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) is a relatively new in the corporate world. Their mission is to mitigate unhappiness at work by creating a positive work environment. This role goes beyond traditional HR functions, focusing on employee happiness and satisfaction.
The CHO can plan team building activities and implement wellness policies, but it really encompasses much more. As pointed in this article, the role entails:
- Organising training and awareness-raising campaigns on nutrition, rest, sport or emotional management that generate healthy habits among employees.
- Implementing social and financial benefit portfolios (health insurance, pension plans, parental policies at the time of maternity or paternity).
- Developing arrangements for digital disconnection.
- Providing personal and psychological support services for workers and families.
- Creating sports teams or associations that contribute to healthier social interaction in the workspace.
For Andrés Pascual, author of the book Líder de bienestar, the essential trait of a Chief Happiness Officer is listening: being attentive to the needs of employees and knowing what they want. The key, then, is to establish a procedure that manages to transform feelings and emotions into measurable data that help us to implement the appropriate measures to mitigate unhappiness at work.
Happyforce, a company specialising in internal company communication, converts these feelings into data through confidential employee surveys that measure the Happiness index and eNPS. The former converts the mood of each person who chooses from four different emoticons every day when the app installed on their mobile phone asks them “Hello, how are you? The second indicator tells us about the degree of satisfaction and commitment of employees to the company based on a single question: “Would you recommend a friend or family member to work at this company?”
Companies are embracing this role to improve employee happiness and engagement, seeing it as a valuable investment that can increase productivity and healthy employee retention. However, there are also critics who argue that employee happiness should not fall to one person, but should be a responsibility shared by all leaders within an organization instead.
In conclusion, it’s clear that mitigating unhappiness at work is not only possible, but essential for employee performance and engagement. Happiness at work shouldn’t be an aspiration, but a reality. Companies that understand this will not only see improvements in productivity, but also in talent retention, customer satisfaction and ultimately their bottom line.