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CHO : Chief happiness officer could be the new retention effective tool?

Happiness officers: does every workplace need to hire someone to bring the joy?

A lawyer at a top London firm has suggested recruiting a chief happiness officer. Could this be the answer to mid-life burnout and the great resignation?

The psychological and philosophical pursuit of happiness was going on thousands of years ago in China, India and Greece. Think Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, Aristotle. More recently, Roger Hargreaves published his scholarly text Mr Happy in 1971.

This isn’t about that though, is it? Not directly. It’s about an even more modern idea, namely the happiness officer.

Happiness officer? That’s a thing? It could be soon.

One of the candidates for managing partner at their London headquarters, John Kewley, has promised to create the new role of chief happiness officer, if appointed.

Surely they are already happy, when they earn all that money. True, partners at such firms do get seven-figure salaries. But stress levels and burnout rates are also high …

OK, that’s not good. “Let’s surprise, let’s delight, let’s dream,” Kewley wrote in his manifesto. “We have a generational opportunity to create the most vibrant, happy and uplifting place to work in the world.”

I’m still finding it hard to feel sorry for a bunch of rich City lawyers. It is not just at Clifford Chance; workers are burning out and dropping out all over the place. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, almost a quarter of a million Brits aged between 50 and 65 have left their jobs and aren’t looking for new ones.

And you’re suggesting appointing happiness officers would help? Well, you never know, it might do. Laurie Santos says it’s in employers’ best interest to notice that people are burning out.

Laurie Santos? Who’s she? A psychology professor known as Yale’s “happiness professor”, since teaching the most popular course in the university’s history, Psychology and the Good Life. She is also host of The Happiness Lab podcast.

Sounds like Santos knows her stuff when it comes to happiness. Perhaps she might be interested in the job at the London law firm? Prof Santos is currently taking a burnout break …

Do say (as Albert Schweitzer once did): “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

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