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Become Your Company’s CHO: Chief Happiness Officer

Become Your Company’s CHO: Chief Happiness Officer

This article appeared in Natural Awakenings Magazine in April 2014. You can see it here.

If you’re a business owner, company manager or team leader, you no doubt try to hire individuals who are competent, skilled and capable. It is likely that you also want your employees or staff to be engaged and supportive of their co-workers and your enterprise. Your postings for open positions may include words such as creative, resilient, adaptable, and motivated.

Even though identifying and hiring people with those sorts of qualities is itself an accomplishment, a smart leader understands that the recruiting effort does not end on the start date of a new hire. According to a recent Conference Board survey of CEOs worldwide, the greatest challenge faced by company decision makers was “how best to develop, engage, manage, and retain talent.” Whether a company is small or large, retention of valued employees is a primary concern for business owners and leaders.

Talented employees are easier to retain when they are engaged. An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by, and enthusiastic about, his or her work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. “Engaged” is not synonymous with “happy,” but we know that a happy employee is much more likely to become — and stay — engaged. A happy work environment also stimulates innovation and commitment. It makes good employees want to stay.

Creating a Culture That Values Employees

So, how do you create happy? You need a company culture that values leadership, teamwork, integrity and transparency. However, to ingrain those values in the culture of a company, those at the top, even if only a sole proprietor, need to “walk” the “talk” — by having frequent, open communication on matters that concern the company and its employees and by fostering an environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas.

Other requirements for a happy workplace include opportunities for professional growth and a system that reliably recognizes employees for a job well done. Money, of course, is likely to be an important component of any successful reward system. However, employee rewards can also take the form of programs that reduce workplace stress, promote self-awareness and nurture a strong sense of belonging. If employees are provided with an opportunity to develop skills and insights that help them decompress and manage stress in their personal lives, they can, and will, apply those skills and insights in the workplace.

Allowing Teamwork to Evolve

When a group of individuals who work together are allowed an opportunity to connect, grow and have fun together, they evolve into a team. And as a team, with a stake in each other’s success, they will spend far less time of their workday on unproductive or counter-productive efforts, discussions and thoughts. When people feel reinvigorated, they are better able to focus and to think strategically. “Happy” starts to permeate the workplace.

Promoting Wellness

Many people today, of all ages, are exploring holistic approaches to health and well-being. They place a high value on the opportunity to learn and practice new (and sometimes ancient) methods of caring for themselves and those around them. It’s not necessary to form a wellness division within your company to reward employees with an opportunity to benefit from practices that support mind, body and spirit. You can create these opportunities by arranging periodic workshops, half-day retreats or team-building events. Alternatively, you can provide employees with access to an independent practitioner such as a life coach or nutrition counselor, or even by holding weekly yoga classes in a conference room. These offerings communicate to your employees that you value them as individuals and that their overall well-being is important to you and the company.

As a leader, what will you do to promote happy and create a positive work environment? How will you demonstrate a professional and personal commitment to your team? Keep in mind that while it’s wonderful to hire great people,it’s even more rewarding overhearing them tell others how much they love their jobs — and where they work!