Chief Happiness Officer. Sounds like the title for a fictional character we might hear on Sesame Street rather than in a boardroom, but that is the exact title that the founder of Woohoo Inc (Yes – Woohoo Inc), Alexander Kjerulf has given himself. Alexander is cited as one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work. His latest book, titled ‘Leading with Happiness’, presents the concept that the fundamental goal of any leader should be to increase the level of happiness at work and in the world.
I recently saw a recording of Alexander’s TedX talk in Copenhagen, where he introduced the concept of ‘Arbejdsglæde’ (pronounced ah-bites-gleh-the) and explained the importance of finding happiness at work. Now Arbejdsglæde is not another Sesame Street concept or made up word. In fact, it is a Danish word that translates to “Happiness at work”. While Arbejdsglæde may be quite a mouthful, it is defined as the feeling you get when you enjoy your work, when you feel you are making a difference, when you like the people you work with and you genuinely look forward to coming into work every day.
It is worth noting that the word Arbejdsglæde only exists in Scandinavian languages. There is no one word in the English language that means happiness at work. Kjerulf notes that perhaps this is because, in many organisations (and countries), the focus is on the perks of your job – such as salary, superannuation, leave entitlements, etc. While these factors are important and influence job satisfaction levels, they do not necessarily lead to Happiness at Work. Job satisfaction relates to what you think about your job, Happiness at Work (Arbejdsglæde) relates to how you feel about your job. Kjerulf goes on to say that, not only can anyone be happy at work, everyone SHOULD be happy at work. He lists three main reasons why being happy at work is so important:
- Time: Work is where you spend the second largest amount of your time (You spend the largest amount of time sleeping). If you spend this much time on something, shouldn’t it make you happy most of the time?
- Life: There is a proven strong connection between happiness at work and happiness in life. Having a good and meaningful job has been proven to be one of the main factors that attributes to an overall happier life. It’s not all about the pay check!
- Success: If you want to be successful in what you do, it is important to be happy. Happy people are better at almost everything. They will usually be more productive, more creative and more engaged.
Kjerulf states that the two things that will influence our happiness at work the most are:
- Results: It is important to do something you can be good at, to be able to take pride in your work, to be able to make a difference and deliver the desired results.
- Relationships: It is equally important to have strong relationships and like the people that you work with.
If you’re not happy at work, do something about it. Make a positive change to create a happier environment. Find your Arbejdsglæde! As Steve Jobs said ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do’.