Over the last few years the press has reported on the emergence of so-called ‘Chief Happiness Officers’ in Silicon Valley – but has this phenomenon broken the UK Startup market? We think so, but not in quite the same way… At Work in Startups we have noticed a rise in the use of “happiness” as a descriptive term within startup roles and job ads at all levels (not just within management positions).
What is a Chief Happiness Officer?
There is some debate about exactly what this role involves (or indeed whether it is a legitimate role at all). In 2015, The Guardian said a Chief Happiness Officer was concerned with “employing people to create happier workforces” suggesting this was largely achieved through events and training. More recently Forbes offered the idea that the main goal of a CHO should be building employee engagement at a management level.
Some grumblings across the internet have intoned that ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ is actually just ‘startup slang’ for a Head of People, and the role it references comes under the remit of an HR manager. Interestingly, Forbes cited this SMF study that concluded “happiness” increased employee productivity by an average of 12% – suggesting that a quest for happiness may not be such a frivolous goal.
It would appear that happiness is not just a feature of startup life from an HR and management perspective. Many people associate a ‘culture of happiness’ with startups – from the talent they hire to the ways they keep their talent… well… happy.
How startups build a ‘culture of happiness’
- Benefits and Perks – this is perhaps the most obvious way startups promote happiness among their workforce. Big names like Charlie HR and Perkbox provide corporate discounts and deals to employees (keep a beady eye on Work in Startups as they advertise their internal roles with us if you fancy having a direct hand in promoting employee happiness!)
- Events and Socials – another ‘obvious’ way of boosting employee happiness. This is where the weird and wonderful comes into play – beer and pizza nights, xboxes, gym or yoga classes. You name it, the UK startup world has it!
- Remote Working and ‘Unlimited Holiday’– handing over control of how and where employees work to the workforce themselves is one of the main ways startups seek to build engagement. That, and facilitating employees when they choose not to work, by promoting vacation time (sometimes to the extreme!).
- Mental health of the workforce – in recent years there has been an increasing focus on maintaining ‘mental hygiene’ in startup employees at all levels. Though slower on the draw, UK startups are definitely making strides to safeguard their workforce (Business Insider)
Work in Startups… Happily?
The idea of securing happiness doesn’t just have to be internal. Lots of startup roles have an eye toward the client and customer, projecting the startup ‘culture of happiness’ outward. Here are some of our favourites in this category to take a look at:
Are you interested in how your future employer can make you a happier employee? Are you dedicated to ensuring happiness not only within your own company, but projecting outward in your customer service? Work in Startups is worth a look.