How to Become a Chief Happiness Officer

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Are you a person who believes that happiness makes people work harder? Do you take pride in helping other people find true happiness? Well, then you already have part of what it takes to become a Chief Happiness Officer (CHO).

Although CHOs are not as popular as their colleagues in the C-Suite (chief executive officer and chief financial officer, for instance), the play a very important role in helping an organization achieve its goals. By delivering happiness to the workplace, CHOs are able to nurture a happy, loyal and productive workforce. Read on to learn more about what CHOs are, and the kind of qualifications you need to get a position like this.

1. What Do Chief Happiness Officers Do?

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The primary duties of a CHO include:

  • Analyzing the level of happiness in the workplace – this involves interviewing employees to gather their views on current working conditions
  • Working with other executives to develop and implement policies that enable or encourage a happy working environment. For example, he or she can decide that employees be allowed to bring their pets to work, because there are several benefits of having an office pet
  • Developing effective employee benefit programs – This typically involves ensuring the optional, non-wage compensation given to employees is competitive
  • Helping employees to create personal visions that are linked to the organization’s vision
  • Generating creative ideas for boosting employee happiness  in the workplace – this may involve redesigning the working space
  • Organizing sessions or conferences where employees are taught about happiness. The CHO can also lead these sessions
  • Participating in the resolution of workplace disputes, ensuring this is done with open hearts and that employee relationships aren’t ruined
  • Overseeing a departmental staff that may include employee development specialists, counselors, psychologists and life coaches
  • Providing personal advice to employees who may reach out for help, guidance or even inspiration
  • Recommending books, blogs and other pieces of literature that employees can read to learn more about happiness.
  • Looking for opportunities to promote happiness research, like partnering with a local university to conduct a happiness survey

It is important to note that there is no (at least not at the moment) standard job description for a CHO because it is an emerging position. A perfect example is Google’s Chade-Meng Tan, whose current description is to ‘enlighten minds, open hearts and create world peace’. In other words, you will be expected to do whatever it takes to make the workforce happy and productive.

2. Work Environment

Like other company executives, CHOs typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, unlike other executives who spend hours in their offices holding meetings or working with reports, CHOs generally spend most of their time interacting with employees around the workplace.

You can also expect to travel regularly to attend events and conferences

3. Salary

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Although specific details about the average annual salary of CHOs are scanty, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that top company executives earn a median annual wage of $101,650.

4. Relevant Education and Experience

So, what kind of education do you need to become a CHO? In truth, is there is no specific roadmap to this position.

That being said, there are academic disciplines that can enable you to learn more about people and organizations, which will come in handy in your position. Ideally, you should start by earning a bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial and organizational psychology, organizational development or a closely related field. The University of the Incarnate World in Texas, for example, offers a BA in organizational development that equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency by increasing the capacity of individuals and groups. You will take courses in areas such as team building in organizations, personal productivity applications, work design and communication in organizations.

After graduating, you could start out as a human resource specialist, industrial psychologist or organizational development specialist. As you gain professional experience, explore opportunities to further your education. The best option is to go for a master’s degree in the field of positive psychology, such as the one offered at the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The program focuses on the strengths that enable individuals and organizations to flourish. By the time you graduate, you will be able to identify the conditions that hinder productivity in the workplace and address them accordingly.

5. Skills, Qualities and Interests


If you are to be entrusted with the responsibility of delivering happiness in the workplace, then you must be a genuinely happy person. Other essential qualities include:

  • Strong team building skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Be compassionate and emotionally intelligent
  • Excellent people skills
  • Excellent public relation skills
  • A deep sense of cultural awareness
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • The ability to think creatively
  • The ability to motivate and inspire others
  • The willingness to help other people
  • A good business sense, because at the end of the end of the day, happiness initiatives should boost the organization’s business performance
  • Good analytical and decision-making skills
  • Be fun, approachable and likeable.

6. Career Advancement

Once you are hired as a CHO, don’t stop learning. You will be faced with new challenges every day. As organizations continue to embrace cultural diversity, you will encounter workers who hold diverse views on happiness.

One of the best ways to maintain your sharpness is to pursue additional training in happiness coaching.  For instance, GoodThink, an onsite and virtual training organization, offers a range of short-term courses that can enhance your understanding of happiness and increase your ability to drive change in the workplace.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fiona Duffy, CHO of Happy Startup School in the UK, advises that attending as many events can also make you a competent CHO. You will have the opportunity to interact with people from various backgrounds, exchange ideas and strengthen your people skills.

You could also pursue a doctorate in positive psychology. As your experience builds up you could take on other related roles, such as motivational speaking. If you are entrepreneurial, you can setup a happiness coaching business.

7. Employment Opportunities

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At the moment, employment opportunities for CHOs are few. The vast majority of organizations - with the exception of Google, a few other large corporations and a handful of startups – are yet to create this position. Nonetheless, there is every indication that many organizations are starting to invest in the happiness of employees, and it’s only a matter of time before the position goes mainstream. In fact, it could be one of the hottest jobs in the next five to ten years. So don’t lose hope, just work on obtaining the right qualifications and nurturing your personal attributes.

Becoming a CHO affords you the chance to make a difference in the lives of other people. You will certainly find personal satisfaction in helping them pursue and achieve happiness.

What is your take on the role of CHOs? Is it creepy to have a person who checks on your happiness from time to time? Is it a position you’d like to chase? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.