Just a few hours after posting an ad for Proxyclick’s first Team Happiness Manager (THM) on my personal Facebook, I sat here with six applicants and a myriad of excited questions from friends, colleagues and people way beyond my personal network.
Since employing Hélène at the start of the year, the response to her role has been phenomenal, and not limited to within Proxyclick, but customers and the industry too. Why have we created this position, who is this interesting new recruit and what exactly does she do? Is it all splashing out on perks and a trendy office, or is there more to it?
Come as you are
If I were to ask you where you are happiest, at home, or at work, the likelihood is, that 99 percent of people would say at home. And that’s natural, home is your safe, comforting place where most of us feel we can be ‘ourselves’; from the way we dress and act, to how we socialise and interact with other people. At Proxyclick, we are breaking down these boundaries, and looking at what we should be doing as a progressive employer to create better interactions between our people. We want them to feel they can be their true selves at work, and not create this whole other persona for the office as this is when people are their most productive.
Hélène brings her lovely Frenchie Rufus to the office every week. In the workplace pets relieve stress, promote social interaction and increase employee performance.
Ultimately, every business has a destination in mind, an end goal to build something great and change the world, but the journey to get there can be a long one, and we believe it’s key to have fun and nurture team spirit while you’re doing it. Proxyclick’s THM is an organic role; Helene works autonomously, developing approaches that help motivate our staff and make them feel valued. And it’s not just about buying ‘stuff’ – the anecdotal ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is true. Yes, elements of employee satisfaction costs money; we’re bringing in a cool ping pong / board room table this month as a break-out space for staff to unwind, but in order for the THM role to work, the mentality of the business must evolve in line with employee satisfaction.
Trust, flexibility, autonomy and freedom
As a relatively new scale-up, we’re huge advocates of autonomy. Micro management is painful and has no place in our team – employees know the ultimate goal of their role and the wider business and we put our trust in them to deliver it their own way. When we hire people, it’s an alliance; a win-win relationship based on trust, flexibility, autonomy and freedom. It is obvious to me; you get back 10 times more from your colleagues if you trust them, and that breeds happiness. We do not place hours or location restrictions on our staff; whether they’re working at home or sat at a desk opposite, is of no consequence to me – give employees the flexibility to shape their working life and it’ll pay you back in dividends. This shift in employee culture benefits company shareholders in the long-term as we are operating with a happy, motivated workforce who feel respected. In fact, employees also stand to benefit as all hold shares in the company too.
Friday's office lunch
The challenge our THM has, is creating the right working environment that actually attracts employees to the office, to feel it is productive and comfortable for them to be here. As a cloud business with clients and offices spread across the globe, remote working is our lifeblood. A big challenge for Hélène this year is to devise better ways to involve our remote workers and make them feel more a part of the team. And sometimes it’s the little things that help: we’ve had every employee’s Slack picture modelled after a Simpsons-style caricature – it raises a smile and breaks down the barriers between us all when we’re talking online so much.
Focus on well-being and the "why"
Business owner to owner, I’ve been asked the question: how does this ‘stack up’ as a business decision? And the answer I give – tenfold. The value of our company is growing because our people work hard and love what they do. Recruiting the cream of the crop millennials takes more than a healthy salary these days, in fact, we’ve had new recruits mention the THM as a key attracter that made them apply. Yes, of course they want to earn good money to live, but the WHY of the company - why do people wake up every day and are motivated to go to work is just as important.
So, what does success look like? We benchmark employee satisfaction each year using a survey and rating scale, however, how this is to be achieved, that’s down to Hélène’s immense creativity and her relationship with the team, so watch this space!
A hello from Hélène...
“Being a Team Happiness Officer is all about ‘humanising’ people – too often this can get lost and replaced with simply a means to a profitable end. Often, it can be the little things that mean so much to people and make them feel valued. From creative break-out spaces and quiet zones, to chill-out experiences or a free lunch, I work extremely closely with the team to understand their needs and how the company can create the most productive and enjoyable experience for them. To also ensure a long-lasting good working atmosphere I am responsible for selecting the best new recruits ever, the ones who will best fit with the Proxyclick startup culture. Building a powerful employee performance system is also one of my top priorities. Proxyclick is an incredibly forward-thinking business and I look forward to working with the industry’s best while developing this exciting new role.”
With everything on her to-do list, Helene will be busy for awhile. The small changes she already started creating are already making a difference in the daily life of the team and we cannot wait to see how she evolves both in her role and the work environment around her.
Do you think a Team Happiness Manager would be a great added value to your company? I am curious to know what you think about it.