The positive revolution of the Chief Happiness Officers


Happiness is a science. It is not exact but it is built, taught and trained. In personal relationships as well as at work. This is what the Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) does within "positive" organizations, listening to people and valuing them not only for their passions, needs, emotions.

They are strategic managers and consultants who accompany companies, associations and teams on a long and demanding path of cultural change. A change that, although gradual and still ongoing, is making a difference now that, after the pandemic crisis, the labor market faces the voluntary resignation boom and the YOLO Economy: the economy of "you only live once" in which the permanent job, or the salary at the end of the month is no longer enough.

" The sole lever of salary no longer belongs to either young people or over 50s who, despite the label often given them, still have knowledge, talent, skills ".

Thus begins Daniela Di Ciaccio, Sociologist and researcher, in 2015 she founded together with Veruscka Gennari the 2BHappy Agency, to spread the science of happiness in organizations.

From this experience, in 2019, the IIPO - Italian Institute for Positive Organizations was born, which certifies Chief Happiness Officers through a course of high management training that touches the most various disciplines, from neuroscience to integral theories, from civil economics to yoga, from learning sciences to positive psychology and play.

" People want to have a positive impact on those around them, a freedom of expression, autonomy, control of their activities ".

In this sense, positive organizations are truly inclusive.

" In unsuspecting times they began to invest in the culture of positivity, happiness at work, thus cultivating social capital and authentic relationships between people; creating contexts of trust, enhancing the dimension of being and more that of doing. Thus, in the face of COVID, they reacted by putting in place all their 'anti-fragility'. For example, they were the first who, without waiting for the decrees - put people at home in safety, giving them IT tools, extra health insurance, remote technological and psychological support; teaching managers to work agile and defining times to prevent people from being subjected to an invasion of work in family lives. Companies that have continued to grow, in terms of people, turnover and innovations produced ".

Lara Lucaccioni has made happiness a skill to be trained through wellness practices. In addition to being a Chief Happiness Officer teacher and an expert in the science of happiness, but also the main Italian trainer of Laughter Yoga: a discipline of Indian origin which, through unconditional laughter, helps to circulate in our body feel-good hormones, reducing stress. In addition, she is the first Italian HearthMath certified trainer, an institute that has developed cardiac coherence, a series of breathing practices and management of positive emotions for psychophysical balance. Together with her partner Matteo Ficara, she founded the innovative startup "Happiness for Future", through which she dealt with culture and training.

" Talking about well-being at work is also important, because it is one of the places where we spend more time, face more challenges, get more stressed and where we hold onto relationships that are not always chosen and in which perhaps not everything flows. You can work on positive leadership, on processes, on purpose, on personal and corporate values. There are many practices that you can learn as an individual, or bring them into organizational realities to make them part of the corporate culture. The important thing is to be able to realizing '+1 kind', that is, building happiness as a small step after another, creating habits, starting from what is already there ".

Pioneer of the science of happiness applied to work , Daniele Raspini for 25 years he was director of the ASP Martelli, a public health, educational and rehabilitation assistance facility for the elderly and disabled. In the first year of the pandemic, the facility remained COVID-free thanks to effective security protocols, the already widespread use of technology, and the timely reduction of moments of contagion. Now retired, he helps other organizations change for the better as a consultant.

How do you build the happiness of an RSA? Going in search of people's passions.

" To the physiotherapist who was good at making sweets - he tells in an interview with - I asked to make a cake for the elderly. This aspect gratified her and made her work better ".

But also with many trips, long and short but always self-financed, to learn about European and extra-European experiences. And again, with the active participation of all professional profiles, from nurses to cleaners, from cooks to animators, to the definition of the annual " Improvement Plan ".

" What really makes the difference - he underlines - is restoring the ability to make a wish to people. For example: we had the gym, next to the gym there was a kitchenette. The physiotherapist comes to me and he says to me: 'Three gentlemen would like to prepare spaghetti with tomato sauce.' Obviously, any director would have said to him: 'There are hygiene rules to be respected, we go to eat in the canteen!' What did I tell her? went to buy tomatoes, they put the pot, they set a table in the gym and made this spaghetti. They were the three happiest people in the world. I looked at the look of happiness they gave me and I know I gave them a special moment ".

" In Zeta Service we have a real 'Happiness and Values', a team dedicated to taking care of the well-being and serenity of our people. A laboratory in which groups of collaborators alternate who, listening to their colleagues, propose ideas, workshops and activities to bring to the company ".

This experience is described by Silvia Bolzoni who, 19 years ago, founded Zeta Service (9 offices, 330 employees , 1,550 customers) and which he now manages together with his children. In 2019 she was included by Forbes Italia in the ranking of the 100 most influential women.

"For years we have had one butler per office who takes care of our daily errands - he tells to - such as taking the car to the mechanic, collecting the shopping that our collaborators do online, organizing the medical visits in the company, going to the post office. But what has always been most appreciated is the freedom to organize one's work. In Zeta Service there is no stamping, the hours are flexible and even before the pandemic, we had a smart working plan, now revised and expanded to meet people's new needs. In addition, with our parenting support program, we provide training, benefits and even a month's leave for new fathers. Taking care of your collaborators - he underlines - triggers a beautiful virtuous cycle; we take care of our people and our people, of course, will have the same care for our customers".

Andrea Virgilio is 33 years old and the CEO and the first of the two Chief Happiness Officers of Heply, the IT company he founded in 2019 in Udine after an experience in an organization from who, at some point, felt the need to detoxify and find a new life and professional purpose.

Because that's exactly how it is: Bad relationships at work cause physical discomfort. This is demonstrated by the rate of heart attacks on Monday morning, which grows by 20%.

"A negative relationship with your boss - says Daniela Di Ciaccio - hurts more than a diet based on french fries! ".

Today, 34 people work at Heply. Zero turn-over. The last in order of time to be hired is Davide. He is 50 years old and has always been a freelancer before meeting " happycoders", as Heply collaborators call themselves. Founded on the eve of the pandemic, in the second full year of activity the company achieved revenues of one million and 400 thousand euros. To demonstrate that happiness is also an economic value .

Constant listening to people, 3,500 hours of training per year on hard and soft skills, the "Breakfast at Heply" every three months to collect feedback and design the future: these are some of the welfare measures that have made Heply a positive organization since its foundation.

"We have flexibility and hybrid work - Andrea Virgilio explains to -, rooms where you can draw on the walls, sofas, spaces for playing table tennis and five-a-side football. I have created an environment in which, if I have to dress, wash myself, face the traffic to come to the office, it's not to have a desk and a keyboard that I also have at home ".

To date, the IIPO has trained 250 Chief Happiness Officers. " It means that there are at least 250 companies in Italy that talk about these issues - underlines Daniela Di Ciaccio - and they are making a difference, every day, in the lives of the hundreds of people who work there ".