Happiness@work: myth or reality
Why do we work? After spending few years as an HR in a small hotelier business I started asking myself that question. Besides the obvious money reasons, what else is there? We spend most of our waking hours at work. Do we love it? Well, according to vast research data on that topic, not really. Work is obligation, necessity, everybody is doing it, everybody is force to do it and everybody wants out. Ok, let’s not exaggerate. There are some urban legends about weirdos who actually do like what they do. Have you met them? You know those annoying types, believers in positive thinking, constantly cheering and encouraging everybody.
How I became Happiness Manager
Few months ago, I firmly decided to become one of them. I began my quest. My first stop was job adds. Let’s see what is out there. Ensuring legal compliance by monitoring human resources legal requirements, managing documentation and maintaining personnel files, tracking, analyzing and reporting KPI in HR... boring, boring...and then... Happiness/HR Manager position at software engineering company. Who are those guys? Is this a joke? They wrote on the end- Do you think you have what it takes and dare to make the next step in your career? Really. You are using classic childish provocation on me...Well, it worked. You got my attention and apparently attention of many others. I prepared myself for fierce fight. I’ll show them who are they dealing with. I’ve done my research, wrote motivational letter, went through majority of interview questions, wrote follow ups after each selection interview round (as my friend calls them seven circles of hell), some nerve-racking waiting for their decision and wholah, I got the job. Now what? ...Wait a minute, what is Happiness Manager?
Who started the whole thing?
As my new colleague Alexander pointed out to me, expectations in Happiness business are quite high. Should I be scared? My CEO Dejan, really nice guy (I hope he is reading this) send me link to The Chief Happiness Officer blog. So, this is what it’s all about:
„Companies are seldom happy if they are only about money. It is much more fun to work for a worthy cause. If companies and employees are opposites or enemies instead of partners, nobody will be happy. If there are barriers between employees that prevent collaboration, energy will be wasted on internal friction rather than spent on customer satisfaction. An open and collaborative organization has fun. It is that simple. Therefore, I dare say that happiness is not a joke in management. It is damn serious: happy companies will win. Happy companies will grow and happy companies will innovate.“
Kjerulf, Alexander (2014-01-01). Happy Hour is 9 to 5: How to Love your Job, Love your Life, and Kick Butt at Work (Your Best Self). Pine Tribe Ltd.
Today, efficiency, innovation and customer service are prime success factors in any organization. Studies consistently show that happy companies are way more productive, service-oriented and creative than unhappy ones. In the market place unhappy ones don’t stand a chance. So, how to achieve it? According to The Chief it only takes two things: results and relationships.
Most companies focus only on results: budgets, plans, projects, strategies and missions. Results are keeping them in the market race, so it is understandable and also a mistake, because good relationships don’t just appear by themselves. It takes time and a concerted, daily effort to create them. When this effort is not made instead of teamwork and mutual appreciation you get mistrust, internal conflict, bickering and selfishness, which makes people unhappy at work, and then results suffer.
First month in my new role
When I entered my new collective, all I saw was a bunch of silent, highly concentrated professionals on their computers, except for that joyful group, they know who they are... So, this is how software developers look like. I joined them on their conference meetings... and this is how they sound... not understanding a damn thing. Hmm...I needed to somehow make them speak in normal language. Dejan asked me: „When will you start with one-on-one interviews with them all?“ Oh, c’mon, I just suggested that on my job interview because you and Luc and Goran (in case they are reading this: Hi Luc, Hi Goran!) cornered me with: „What will you do if you get the job? Give us your ideas? Anything?“ I was improvising. Are we really going to do this? ...I guess we will.
We called it „coffee with HR“. I met with every one of them (we are fast growing company, so the number is approaching 30 as you read this) at the nearest café for an hour. Some happiness séances took longer than that...Sorry Dejan, we couldn’t stop talking. Apparently this personalized approach was quite unexpected for them. They were like: „What do you want from us? Go away!“, and I was like: „Here, have a cookie...“ And after that initial awkwardness, it began, we started connecting. I discovered that they are very interesting, highly intelligent people, with ideas, aspirations, accomplishments and challenges, and most importantly with great sense of humor.
This is why I work. To remove fear from human relationships, to establish trust, to help people grow and have fun while doing that, to light fire for idea exchanging, to acknowledge everybody’s differences giving them options to choose from best suited for their needs and interests...or, maybe I should just go back to those HR administration job adds. They seemed much easier.
What about you? Why do you work?