What do happiness managers do in a corporate environment?

Learn more about the hottest new job title that has reached Israel.

Miri Vexler, happiness manager at EcoSupp. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Miri Vexler, happiness manager at EcoSupp.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The hottest new job title these days is happiness manager, also known as Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) or people happiness manager, and now that this trend has reached Israel, people are wondering: What does a happiness manager actually do?
Miri Vexler, who holds this position at EcoSupp, an Israeli firm that sells vitamin supplements online, is, well, quite happy to explain.
“We work with everything that is connected to the happiness of the staff, what makes each person happy,” she said.
Then is happiness manager another name for therapist? Not quite, said Vexler, who studied anthropology and started her career as an entrepreneur. “We identify everyone’s needs, how they can feel better at work,” she said. With different people, this means different things, however. “One of them might need to sit and talk about his relationship because he’s having a hard time, another might need support because he wants to talk to his manager about his schedule, and he is nervous talking to people in authority,” she said.
It also involves figuring out what kinds of assignments are best suited to each employee. “One person is very organized and detail-oriented, another works very well independently, another needs more support and feedback as he accomplishes each task,” she explained. “You have to be creative and make sure that the assignments are tailored to each person and I use my knowledge of him or her to make sure the work is well suited to them personally.”
According to Prof. Shay Tzafrir, associate professor and head of the School of Business Administration at the University of Haifa, the happiness manager is an outgrowth of the human resources department. 
“Soon, the human resources managers will be called people managers,” he explained. “It’s semantics, but it’s important, it shows an evolution in thinking... The happiness manager is a symbol that represents a company’s dedication to the well-being of its employees, just like the diversity manager is a symbol of a company’s commitment to increasing workforce diversity.”
The bottom line, said Tzafrir, is that “workers need to feel that their well-being is important to the company.” These managers need to create a situation where workers feel “a sense of engagement, attachment and belonging... The emphasis on trust is very important for workers and it's also key for them to feel that there is empathy for them.”
Vexler said the happiness manager has a particularly important task during the disruptions and downturns of the coronavirus pandemic. Her job is just as important when many people are working from home, she said.
“Working from home can increase the pressure on some people and make it hard to maintain a work/life balance,” she said. “It’s very individual. For some people who really are having a hard time, I make myself available 24/7 if someone needs me. I try to teach them to handle the pressure.”
She noted that while in some industries there have been cutbacks due to the virus, others have been busier than ever. “As things change in the world, people think about the future and I can help them plan long-term career growth,” she said.
Said Tzafrir, “We are in a time of disruption but that does not mean there is not a need for workers to feel appreciated and to feel that their work is valued. It’s essential now during the time of corona.”
Having an executive in charge of happiness is a worldwide trend. Even in emerging economies like India, companies are hiring CHOs to help their companies progress.
“I would like companies to know that every company needs it,” said Vexler. “When people feel valued and are working under less stressful conditions, at the end of the day, it makes companies more profitable.”