Training 'CHO’s' Chief Happiness Officers: A Higher Education Course Design Challenge

Abstract

Worldwide, organizational happiness presents as the future human resources management and internal marketing practices but there is scarce higher education (HE) training in this merger field. So, which are the ideal key components, scientific fields and respective modules of a Post-Graduation Program on "Organizational Happiness Management" and which is the full CHO's skills profile. The aim of this research is to debate the future challenges of HE in creating global, integrated and consolidated curriculum offers to train professionals for a new emerging profession, the Happiness Managers and to present an HE Post-Graduation Program in Organizational Happiness Management. Research methods included literature review, essayistic view, bench marketing practices and future research methods, since we are projecting the needs of HE and labour market for the future, and designing the training for an emerging profession. We present a Post-Graduation Program, which unites the fields of Human Resources Management, Organizational Psychology, Internal Marketing and others, focusing on the workplace happiness. The Organizational Happiness Management Post-Graduation Program comprise several specialized modules designed to include every aspect that a CHO should be trained including: outdoor learning, lifelong learning, positive and flourishing organizations, organizational behaviour, sociology, internal marketing, leadership and followership, flow, ergonomy, emotional intelligence and mindfulness, workplace and office design, employer branding and employee value proposition (EVP), amongst others. We hope this paper compels the diverse multidisciplinary fields to think with us about the future of HE, proposing training CHO’s even before the market is truly and deeply aware of their need.

Keywords: Organizational happiness, human resources, internal-marketing, higher education, occupational health psychology

Introduction

Happiness in the form of pleasant moods and emotions, well-being, and positive attitudes has been attracting increasing attention throughout psychology research and the interest expands to workplace experiences (Fisher, 2010). Feeling happy is fundamental to human experience, and most people are at least mildly happy much of the time (Diener & Diener, 1996).

For many years, this interest was put aside and not well-received by the scientific community but now is gas now “attention to happiness and other positive states has been legitimized with strong help from the rebirth of positive psychology in the past decade (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000)

Furthermore, challenges with the Bologna declaration in Europe, ask of HE innovative, integrated, inclusive and sustainable future for HE (Araújo & Rodrigues, 2019), and this attitude should trend also in curriculum design. The overall aim of this paper is to present a Postgraduation program to properly train Happiness Managers (HM) and CHO’s- Chief Happiness Officers.

Overall, the approach of organizational happiness (OH) as the future of human resources management and internal marketing practices in organizations is trending worldwide. In the last decade, there has been an explosion of new constructs involving employee happiness and well-being in companies (Fisher, 2010) and more and more studies are proving that valuing human resources is fundamental to the success of organizations, becoming a distinctive factor to increase their competitiveness (Ribeiro, 2019).

OH belongs to a larger family of happiness-related constructs, and share some common causes and consequences (Fisher, 2010). According to the author, we can frame in OH with several overlap constructs, like jog engagement, organizational commitment, positive emotions, Flow, Vigor, intrinsic motivation and many others showed on Table 01.

Table 1 - Happiness-related Constructs in the workplace, according to Fisher (2010)
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OH has, in some ways, become the centre and the fusion of several research fields, for example, organizational psychology and sociology, management, human resources and some others, such as internal marketing or employer branding, which are connected by an already multidisciplinary field which is the organizational behavior.

Fisher (2010) argues that OH can be understood as an emerging concept, which implies the study of job satisfaction, engagement, organizational commitment, and some others that have been studied by many researchers over the decades, in separate ways, and now we can sum up and get an overview on OH as a whole.

We can add contributions from studies on workplace meditation and mindfulness that have lately arose (Araújo et al., 2018), as well as about positive mental training (Ross, 2015), as well as traditional and very recent ideas on emotional intelligence, optimism, positive emotions at work, PERMA Model and Flow, from positive psychology contributions (Seligman, 2000, 2006; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

Nevertheless, some researchers have pointed out that it's important to not forget quality of working life (QWL) (Fernandes, 1996) and some very basic analysis, for example, pressure over the body temperature, light, ergonomy, workplace conditions and office design, as well as in some organizations, basic human rights at work that in some cases might not be fulfilled.

Furthermore, over all human beings have evolved in their needs in the 21st century. For example, the new and revised Maslow pyramid of needs, suggests seven levels of motivations, and includes new levels, for example, self-transcendence (Koltko-Rivera, 2006), aesthetic needs, purpose and meaning into our lives and therefore we explore these constructs also in our work. According to the author’s review, Maslow created the pyramid in 1943 and 1954 and in 1969 amended his model, placing self-transcendence as a motivational step beyond self-actualization, and yet many rich and complex construtcs like self-trancendence have been put aside, maybe because they present of too out-of-the-box thinking.

With artificial intelligence and robots occupying basic jobs, it is time to view work not as the torture at as it once was viewed, but as the possibility to transcend to be happy and fulfilled (Araújo & Fernandes, 2016), for example, touching one of the latest somewhat mediatic subject from the Oriental countries, the ikigai, which has now earned the attention of scientific communities worldwide after several studies on overall happiness (García & Miralles, 2017).

So, organizations are really rethinking themselves, creating environments (physical and psychological) of happiness and wellbeing at work and places where people can really be themselves and grow, have meaningful work and life experiences an even becoming a learning and healing organization (Inayatullah, 2002).

We are finally having the opportunity as human beings in our stage of evolution at this moment to flourish and to seek meaningful work, and so, organizations are growing also and they are rewiring themselves to become happiness-focused and so a new profession arises: the Happiness Managers (HM) and the CHO’s- Chief Happiness Officers (sometimes used as synonym, other times, in big corporations which have a department, used as an hierarquical logic).

Although there is a small component in ‘media publicity’ on the name of this CHO'S, the chief happiness officers or happiness managers, human resources always had a nice view on promoting well-being at work, that is very well studded over the last decades. Nevertheless, evolution of employer branding approaches recently has also lead organizations to invest more in Organizational Happiness, and to prepare for talent attraction and retention (Davies, 2008; Edwards Martin, 2010).

The HM/CHO is much more than a profession, is a talent-oriented job, merging several fields, and acting not only as a worker, a liaison, between departments, but as a model Himself/herself, a person which acts as a coach and with highly developed self-leadership and self-knowledge.

Being a wonderful, enriched and multidisciplinary field of study, its not new at all. Unfortunately, Occupational Health Psychology, which, in our opinion, should be the ideal training for this new profession, is losing protagonism and new and dynamics scientific fields are taking place.

Internal marketing provides a somewhat new fresh view on the subject gaining new perspective on the happy-productive worker (Sgroi, 2015) seeing it as an hypothesis to attract and retain talent and really provide an employer branding, setting organizations to more easily build a brand as employers and more easily attract high-quality and motivated talent to the organization.

On the other hand, research contributions on employee value proposition (EVP), positive and flourishing organizations, leadership and followership, flow are also very important in this scope (Araújo, 2020; Bell, 2005; Noutel et al., 2020; Seligman, 2000).

Facing this, new generations of youngsters entering HE are now graduating from courses that might not be necessary in 20 years. And this situation asks for changes in HE, in order to adjust and evolve quickly, since HE may not be equipped to give quick responses to these urgent needs of the market.

Usually HE, overall the Academia, takes time to change and in some European countries (namely Portugal), there are several bureaucratic aspects until we can create new course offers to undergraduates or even master's degrees. So, HE not always attends the challenges of the labour market.

Higher Education Curriculum design becomes a major concern on HE institutions who search for innovation, promoting interdisciplinary, re-imagining curriculums and cross designing courses. Furthermore, the teacher profile is also a very specific one, since many of the new skills for the future are developmental, intrinsic and transferable core skills like critical thinking, empathy, negotiation, adaptability, among others, so, teachers should develop a specific profile (Araújo & Fernandes, 2017). Moreover, technology is conquering it’s on space on new innovative curriculums in HE, with micro-learning, mobile-learning and podcast-learning, for example (Araújo & Rodrigues, 2019).

New learning practices are also emerging, such as outdoor and lifelong learning project based-learning, game-based learning and other innovative action learning approaches are also needed (Araújo et al., 2019).

We believe that the modern University or college, the highly evolved HE, adjusts and adapts itself to anticipate the needs of the market, but for that to exist it is important to anticipate further the new professions which are arising every day.

In this paper we propose a series of innovative practices on how to engage students in this cross design curriculum training CHO’s and we finish proposing a post graduation in Organizational Happiness Management, comprised of several specialized modules carefully designed to include every aspect that a CHO should be aware, ending with seminars in partnership with companies, and totalizing approximately 130/140 hours (note that in Portuguese Law a Post graduation must have at least 120 hours). This number of hours can be adjusted to the needs of each Higher Education institution, because the paper intends only to be a structured guideline.

This post graduation will include modules centred in workers happiness and in organizational benefits. It’s crucial to approach organizational psychology and sociology, human resources, management, organizational behavior, job satisfaction, engagement, and organizational commitment.

We also added the contributions from positive psychology, namely optimism and emotional intelligence, meditation and mindfulness at work, mental training, positive emotions at work and flow and many other contributes. Quality of Working Life (QWL), specially ergonomics, workplace and office design for wellbeing, is also a crucial dimension to explore. Organizational dimensions will include internal marketing and employer branding approaches, talent attraction and retention, employee value proposition (EVP), leadership and followership, positive and flourishing organizations. To develop this professional profile, outdoor and lifelong learning, as well as technology-based learning strategies, will be used.

We hope this paper compels the diverse multidisciplinary fields relating to OH to think with us about the future of HE and proposing training CHO’s even before the market is truly and deeply aware of their need.

Problem Statement

Worldwide, organizational happiness presents as the future human resources management and internal marketing practices but there is scarce higher education (HE) training in this merger field. So, its is urgent to propose integrated, multidisciplinary courses, certified by HE institutions in order to give proper and scientific answer to market needs, instead of leaving OH training to ‘soft training and expensive’ courses, with no scientific background.

Research Questions

Which are the ideal key components, scientific fields and respective modules of a Post-Graduation Program on "Organizational Happiness Management" which explore, train and detail all HPM/CHO's skills profile?

Purpose of the Study

The overall aim of this paper is to present a Post graduation program while debating the future challenges of higher education (HE) in creating global, integrated and consolidated curriculum offers to train professionals for a new emerging profession, the Happiness Managers (HM) and the CHO’s- Chief Happiness Officers.

Research Methods

Research methods included literature review, essayistic view, bench marketing practices and future research methods, since we are projecting the needs of HE and labour market of the future, and designing the training for an emerging profession.

Futures studies is the systematic study of possible, probable and preferable futures (Inayatullah, 2007), its vision-oriented and the intention is to move out of the present and create the possibility for new futures in a transformative way. Although the present research is not a rigidly defined type of Future research methods, it draws influence from several planning, anticipation of future needs and challenging actual present practices, inspired by the notion that Future studies should, according to the author:

not only find alternative routes out of the present, they need to configure the present differently, using radically foreign and unfamiliar notions of the future. The ability to reinterpret the past, contest the present, and create alternative futures is what makes futures studies different from routine social science, planning or policy research. (Inayatullah, 2007, p. 18)

Findings

The Organizational Happiness Management Post-Grad Program is comprised of several specialized modules designed to include every aspect that a Happiness Manager or a CHO should be trained which are now presented in detail in Table 2 and Table 3.

Table 2 - Happiness Managers/CHO – Chief Happiness Officers course summary
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Table 3 - Post-Graduation Programme in Organizational Happiness Management – Curricular Units
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Conclusion

We developed and presented a detailed, whole view and multidisciplinary Post-Grad Program which unites the fields of Human Resources Management, Organizational Psychology, Internal Marketing and others, focusing on the workplace happiness in general, in order to facilitate the work of higher education institutions in training HM/CHO’s for the future market needs.

As we proposed in previous works, Higher Education need challenges urgently (Araújo et al., 2019), either in the form of new innovative learning methodologies, eithers in new techniques involving for example e-learning, Podcast-Learning (Araújo & Rodrigues, 2019), either gamification and improved corporate world-academics articulation and cooperation.

On the other hand its becoming increasingly common to see simple training programs of 10 or 15 hours providing certification in this complex future profession, which is a danger to organizations and to universities, since that kind of simplistic, fast-selling ease to get, expensive diplomas, aren´t capable of preparing ecletic and competent professionals as CHO’s.

Nevertheless, this easy-expensive-quick diplomas is a type of response to other complicated procedures to become a professional in some fields: for example, in Portugal in particular, the Portuguese Bar Association as increasingly difficult parameters for obtaining the speciality of Occupational Health Psychology, which is the disciplinary field and higher education training that, in our opinion, should primarily occupied the CHO’s vacancies in the future labour market..

As the COVID19 crises and the world pandemic as shown us during 2020, its urgent to adapt and change constantly. Either for organizations in general in an economic perspective, and in Higher Education perspective, since Colleges and universities are responsible for training the professionals of the future work market.

With this brief pragmatic paper, we wanted to openly share our experience in this HE innovative curriculum Design and promote the debate about HM and CHO’s within the scientific Community, and at the same time, give tools to organizations to train and devlope their HM and CHO’s.

What will happen to the HM and Cho’s in future organizations? What are the consequences and impacts of organizations starting to hire HM in the future? These are some questions other research is addressing (Araújo, 2020) and future research should address these impacts, nevertheless, overall, indicators seem that humanity is moving towards a healthier and humane workplaces and deep and meaningful work.

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Doi

10.15405/epiceepsy.20111.31

Online ISSN

2672-8141