Fostering employee happiness is fast moving up the HR agenda. With happier and engaged employees creating a more productive and loyal workforce. It is unsurprising that a greater emphasis is being placed on the importance of employee wellbeing. As part of this, the role of Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) has emerged.
There are a few prominent Chief Happiness Officers, such as Jenn Lim, from Zappos and Chade-Meng Tan from Google. Chade-Meng actually goes by the title ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ and specifically heads up personal development within the company.
Here at Allsop, Emma has been our Chief Happiness Officer for nearly a year now. As this is a relatively new role and maybe one you haven’t heard of, I got her to answer a few questions to give a greater insight into her job.
What does your role as CHO involve?
Being CHO covers a lot of different areas within the business. First and foremost you need to be a ‘people person’ to use a cliché, as the role involves interacting with all departments and management levels. I am a conduit for communications across the board and ensure that we are all in sync from the top down. Culture is key and I work on our culture here at Allsop.
As per Maslow’s Principle, it’s about ensuring the basics are met first and moving on from there. I ensure that our values are demonstrated, that we have a great environment, everyone has what they need to grow within the business and helping to build stronger teams by organising social events outside of the workplace. These are just a few of the areas I’m involved with. I also look at our policies and processes to ensure our customers and employees are getting the best from Allsop and that they are always protected. I’m also starting to expand into areas such as customer care – looking at how can we better serve our clients. CHO is a new role relatively speaking that has its roots in the US but we can learn a lot about the role that no-one quite yet ‘gets’!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Everything! It’s such a unique role and I really embrace the autonomy I have to see everyone grow and be better (including myself). I work closely with our Directors to put in place new employee initiates as well as reflecting what the team requires. Watching our culture grow and become established as we grow is very satisfying.
What initiatives have you introduced to improve ‘happiness’?
I think just to clarify happiness is fleeting, it’s about maintaining an equilibrium which is a hard thing to do with the different wants and needs of everyone, but it works. As mentioned, I work closely with our Directors to talk about what we are going to keep and ditch as a result of team input. I think communication is key to introducing anything new.
The first step was to conduct a company survey to delve into where exactly the team was sitting with any issues or ideas. After analysing the feedback we introduced quarterly ‘Town Hall’ meetings to discuss a wide variety of topics ensuring everyone stays informed and gives us a chance to break bread (or pizza in our case). We have quarterly staff outings to ensure it’s not all about work! And we have introduced additional benefits such as free breakfasts and snacks, medical insurance and health plans, training and development, a quarterly performance bonus, monthly cooked breakfasts and lots more!
Why is company culture important?
I believe that company culture plays a huge role in the future of companies, as the old dynamic of 9am-5pm is being replaced with a more flexible workforce. Company leaders will have a more difficult task to build a company culture if they don’t start looking at this more seriously now. As referenced in Harvard Business review “When aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong culture drives positive organisational outcomes”.
What we have to remember is what works for one company may not work in another, and what worked in the past may not work for the future. Business leaders need to embrace a slightly more agile culture and investing in ‘Happiness’ will be key to business growth, talent attraction, and retention as well as a greater buy-in from employees and customers.
Got questions on how to introduce a CHO into your business? Connect with Emma on LinkedIn and she would be more than happy (pun intended) to help.