Chief Happiness Officer Strategy #1: Cultivate Spiritual Intelligence

The idea of a Chief Happiness Officer is catching on, but what does it mean, and how can people in this position do it well? Over the next three blog posts, we’ll explore 3 ways Chief Happiness Officers can serve their population and excel in their position.

Strategy #1: the work of a Chief Happiness Officer is to look after the care, the feeling, and the importance of the human spirit in the workplace.

A number of years ago, when I left Disney to go out and venture into this world of thought-leadership, authoring, and speaking, I had an opportunity to share the stage with the late, great Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Dr. Covey made a major statement I’d never heard before. He said: “We’re not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I thought, “Wow, that is so profound.” I don’t know if that quote originated with Dr. Covey, but it was the first time that I’d heard it. Fifteen years later, it has stayed with me.

If organizations and businesses would focus on the spirit of human beings and treat them like they’re human beings—not human doings—we would have a healthier workplace where everybody thrives instead of survives.

The real purpose of a Chief Happiness Officer’s job is to focus on the spirit of a person and what they bring to the workplace. It’s the spirit that creates the culture that drives the productivity that yields revenue of customers. It all starts with the spirit, and the spirit is who we show up as, as a human being in the workplace.

Paying attention to the human spirit at work is not a completely new idea but it is one that hasn’t gotten as much wide spread attention. Spiritual Intelligence is not as popular of a term as emotional intelligence, but there are distinct differences between the two ideas. Cultivating spiritual intelligence within your employees comes with a unique set of benefits that can move the organization forward.

Here are my 3 suggestions for cultivating spiritual intelligence in the workplace:

  1. The Chief Happiness Officer has to explore what will uplift and fulfill each employee’s spirit? In exchange for their efforts, employees receive a paycheck, but the real intrinsic value that they get is meaning, purpose, value. As the business, look at a person as a WHOLE person whose personal significance. What would it be like as a chief happiness officer to ask a person: “What makes you tick? What’s important to you?” Forget what they’ve been hired to do. Consider for each employee: how do we engage you in your whole life? When an employee brings their brilliance, their energy, and their time, that’s their spirit.
  2. Totally destroy employee engagement surveys. They are no longer relevant. Employee engagement surveys don’t work because everybody fills out the survey, then there’s an off-site retreat with flip chart paper all over the room of all these great things they’re going to accomplish. The reality is: as important as that retreat was in that moment, there’s often no stickiness to the outcomes of what everybody agreed to do, and then employees don’t take it seriously because none of it is done. While it’s important to gauge employee engagement, elect a service that is more holistic, like TINYPulse. Unlike a traditional employee survey which asks for input from the employee but does not pour back into them, TINYPulse is a company that treasures employees and helps them remain engaged. The whole point of the Chief Happiness Officer is to understand how the spirit of a person is doing and then make sure that employee feels like, “I matter, I am valued, I am heard and we don’t just complete empty exercises to get me to fill out or discuss something and nothing happens.”
  3. Understand how every person is wired. What is your employee’s appreciation language? Years ago when I was working at Disney, I brought the team together, and I was going to recognize everybody for their performance over the last quarter. This particular time we were recognizing Candace for an outstanding performance. Candace turned beet red and ran out of the room. I asked my executive assistant, Beverly, to go after her and find out what happened. Beverly found out that Candace doesn’t like public recognition. It was a huge learning opportunity for me. I was following the management 101 guide that says to recognize people, tell them what they do well, and reward them publicly. What I failed to realize is that everybody has a different appreciation language. Beverly suggested I send a handwritten note to her home address telling her how much I appreciated her performance over the last quarter. Sure enough, I did that, and Candace came into the office a few days later and told me that is how she wanted to be appreciated. It was a huge learning for me as a new manager and it taught me I had to personalize the experience instead of lumping people together. The Chief Happiness Officer has to begin to share with leadership: how do we discover the appreciation language for each person and recognize them in the way they want to be recognized instead of just checking the box that said, yes, we did recognize them.
About Simon T. Bailey
Simon T. Bailey
Simon T. Bailey travels the world speaking to audiences about how how to build a bridge from their current reality to their brilliant future. He is the author of the best-selling books Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc. and Brilliant Living: 31 Insights to Creating an Awesome Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (hometown team), going to movies and eating hot apple pie.