Ready for the International Day of Happiness?

Marco Venturelli3 March 2021
Ready for the International Day of Happiness?

What is the International Day of Happiness?

It’s a day to be happy, of course! Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world: “The General Assembly, (..) conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives, recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness”.

Action for Happiness sustain the UN goal 

Lord Richard Layard founder of Action for Happiness sustains that: “ We all want to live happy and fulfilling lives and we want the people we love to be happy too. So happiness matters to all of us. Happiness is about our lives as a whole: it includes the fluctuating feelings we experience everyday but also our overall satisfaction with life. It is influenced by our genes, upbringing and our external circumstances – such as our health, our work and our financial situation. But crucially it is also heavily influenced by our choices – our inner attitudes, how we approach our relationships, our personal values and our sense of purpose”. “

“In the last 50 years, while Economic growth has been very important, Happiness has been flat so if we agree – he continues – that for all human beings it is important that they experience happiness and escape misery, then it follows that the best society is the one in which there is the least misery and the most happiness. On this basis, everyone’s happiness counts equally. This includes the happiness of everybody now alive as well as that of future generations. So it is important that we act in a way that takes the happiness of all into consideration. If we can agree on this then we’re one step closer to achieving a happier society”. 

Investing in Happiness

I found this movement while I was reflecting on how Finance can help Society to be a better place to live and TheHappyCFO’s articles on LinkedIn shared my thoughts. The inspiration of my articles has been Shiller’s book “Finance and the Good Society” where he writes: “What I want most for my students – near and far, young and old – to know is that finance truly has the potential to offer hope for a more fair and just world, and that their energy and intelligence are needed to help serve this goal.”

Can Finance make it “Fair, just and happier?” 

In almost all profit and non profit, large and small, successful and unsuccessful organization people cooperate and share information under a defined power structure where usually there is a leader that stands for the idea – the core idea behind the company’s activities, a way of thinking that defines the work of all company’s employees and a culture that includes its corporate values connecting the company to the larger society. I will focus my article on profit organizations where the leader is Chief Executive Officer (CEO). A great part of the World working population operates in mid to large profit organizations and the CEOs and their power structure can influence importantly their level of Happiness as measured in the 8 KPIs of the Happiness Report. (Increasing GDP/ company outcome, keeping a correct boss to employee relation, helping people in trouble through charity and donations or special aid programs, create a culture of freedom, at work, a climate of trust, happiness and enjoyment – see notes for more details)

The CFO of any of those organizations, through constant financial resource optimization, can contribute that those goals are pursued via measuring and setting a system that includes measures of Happiness. 

You get what you measure: include Happiness in Financial reports 

Jacob Morgan author of “The Employee Experience Advantage” in a very recent article on HBR reports that “investing in Happiness” gives high returns. After interviewing more than 150 leaders around the world, he identified three environments that matter most to employees: cultural, technological, physical. Next, he developed survey questions to determine how organizations are faring in each area.

 When he interviewed business leaders at the top-scoring organizations, they told him that their investments in the three employee experience environments had led not only to happier employees but also to larger talent pipelines and greater profitability and productivity. Morgan in addition found that, for instance, compared with the other companies he studied, those that invested most heavily in employee experience were included 28 times as often among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 11.5 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, 2.1 times as often in Forbes’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, 4.4 times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers, and twice as often in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Some of the most compelling evidence lay in the financial data: Compared with other companies, the experiential organizations had more than four times the average profit and more than two times the average revenue. They were also almost 25% smaller, which suggests higher levels of productivity and innovation. 

Ultimately then the CFO certifies the outcome of the unit, reassure the CEO that the unit is in the right trajectory and then measure Happiness as an outcome of their effort.

When the objectives are reached, it means that the unit the CFO works for is in line with its broader scope. Then embedded in a broader scope, when numbers turn in the right direction, the CFO feels his or her role accomplished. The whole Society benefits for proper use of money. Happiness comes. 

The Happy CFO preparing for the International Day of Happiness 

Yearly the World Happiness Report is published on March 20th, the International Day of Happiness. It will rank more than 180 countries by their happiness levels. The widespread interest in the World Happiness Reports, of which the 2017 one will be the fifth, reflects growing global interest in using happiness and subjective well being as primary indicators of the quality of human development. Because of this growing interest, many governments, communities and organizations are using happiness data, and the results of subjective well-being research, to enable policies that support better lives.

The KPIs measured to define Happiness status in one country are listed at the end of the article with some comments taken from a speech on Sept 23rd 2014 by Lord Richard Layard

Stay tuned with TheHappyCFO if you want to know more about World Happiness Status