Low Employee Engagement? Maybe Your Co. Needs a 'Happiness Officer'

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last week, we looked at a Gallup study that looked at the effects of "stay[ing] connected to the workplace outside of their normal working hours" and found that it was a "somewhat or strongly positive development," according to 79 percent of employees surveyed.

However, when the Harvard Business Review read those results in the context of an earlier Gallup report, "State of the American Workplace," HBR concluded that "workers will view their company's policy about mobile technology through the filter of their own engagement."

So that got us thinking, how can your company increase employee engagement? And, does it need a Chief Happiness Officer to effectuate that change? Let's find out.

Effects of Low Engagement

The Gallup study shows that 70 percent of workers are not engaged, or are actively disengaged, in their work, "meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive." Interestingly, the report concludes that perks such as vacation time and flexible hours, though still valuable, don't have as much impact on employees' well-being as engagement.

How to Increase Employee Engagement?

Among the findings of the Gallup study, the three main ones are that: (1) Engagement affects "the bottom line," (2) management plays "a critical role," and (3) different employees "need different engagement strategies." So understandably, many of the suggestions that Gallup advances have to do with choosing and training management. Which leads us to ...

Does Your Company Need a CHO?

What's a CHO? Just the new kid in the C-Suite, CHO is short for Chief Happiness Officer (don't laugh, it's a thing). But seriously, according to The New Republic, Chief Happiness Officers "busy themselves with diagnosing the emotional well-being of their workers, as well as adjusting workplace policy and culture in order to create the conditions for happiness."

To determine whether your company needs a CHO, you'll first want to consider your company's size, and whether this function can be absorbed by someone else (in smaller companies). Next, you'll want to measure your employees' level of engagement -- not just productivity, though that will be reflected in engagement. If it turns out that engagement is low, considering the financial impact low employee engagement can have on the bottom line, it may be worth investing in a CHO.

Chief Happiness Officers won't be the right answer for every company, but it's one definitely worth exploring. Who doesn't need more happiness in their life?

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