HR as the Chief Happiness Officer

One of the best advice that I have ever received on leadership is from a long-time client of ours who regularly invest in training for his people. He had a simple philosophy when it comes to people management. He said, “Take care of your people, and your people will take care of you and your business.”

Being a business owner myself, I find that this piece of advice, when applied properly, does wonders for your company. As soon as we adapted this philosophy, running our business and managing people became easier and fun.

That is why I now see the role of HR practitioners as not just transactional or strategic. HR people are present in our companies not just because we need someone to process our salaries and keep our employment records. HR people are here not just to make people productive. More importantly, HR people have the important role of ensuring that the people are well taken care of in the company.

HR leaders are Chief Happiness Officers. They occupy the important role of ensuring the employees’ well-being, while the employees work tirelessly in marketing, selling, finance and operating the business. The logic behind this is that “Happy employees stem from good morale. Good morale leads to enthusiastic employees and a harmonious workplace.”

Thus, the challenge for Chief Happiness Officers is this: How do you make employees happy and productive without spoiling them to a fault?

Well, here are a few important guidelines that Chief Happiness Officers follow…

Cover the Basics

Salaries and benefits are important things that need to be processed promptly. The reason people get up day in and day out to go to work is so that they can earn a living for their families. They work hard and the last thing they want is to worry about is getting paid or not. They are employed, that’s why salaries and benefits must be given regularly, without delays and difficulties.

This rule is basic and yet not all companies have efficient systems for this. A group of employees from a popular internet company I know was not happy with their HR because of delays in salary and benefits administration. They did not have a high regard for their HR because of this. Fortunately, their big boss realized this early enough and approached our company to help iron out the issues and develop a more efficient system. As a result, they were able to retain key people in their company.

Encourage a Fun and Caring Environment

All work and no play, makes a dull workplace. In our company, we try to provide fun activities for the team that isn’t just centered around work. There are movie nights, periodic raffles, teambuilding activities, sports fest and other programs just to break the monotony of work.

Fun activities, rewards and gimmicks are HR’s creative outlet. This is where HR people can unleash their creativity and establish a dynamic and vibrant image for the department. There are many HR departments who are thought of as boring and unexciting. That is why when they hold in-house events, they generate yawns and it’s difficult to get people involved. So I suggest overhauling your image by creating fun programs with a little more noise for a change.

Meanwhile, it is also important to project a caring image. It’s quite easy to show people that you care, but another thing to show that the company cares. It’s easy if you get naturally caring leaders. I’m quite lucky because one of my business partners really excels in this. One of our new staff recently had a heartburn episode and rushed to an emergency clinic. My business partner took the time to call her and see how she was which the new employee really appreciated. It may look like a simple gesture, but it does wonders to a person’s sense of worth. Who wouldn’t want to work for a caring leader?

Help People Grow

Employees spend one-third of their adult lives at work. It’s easy for them to stagnate if the work environment does not encourage learning and growth. This is why, no matter how busy we are, it’s important to take some time to provide learning opportunities for employees.

One of our corporate clients takes this seriously. They invest in “extra-curricular” seminars and workshops for their people that’s not necessarily work-related. They provide money management seminars, livelihood workshop and even language classes. They focus not just on the professional growth of their employees, but also the spiritual, emotional and financial aspect. That is why people stay with the company. They are happy, which is what HR as Chief Happiness Officers’ role is all about.

After I started viewing HR work as a Chief Happiness Officer’s role, managing the HR department became more fun and exciting. More importantly, it improved our company’s morale and made running the business easier. I hope leaders out there will open their minds to the idea as it really works. Take care of your people and your people will take care of you and your company!


Note:  This article was originally published at Manila Bulletin Newspaper.

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and HR Club Philippines.  Her organization offers public seminars and in-house training on Human Resource Management and Business Skills Development.   You may email your comments and questions to: