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Nov 23, 2020

My Life as Vooban’s Chief of Happiness Officer

by Ève Côté G.O


You might have heard about this new job title that is slowly making an appearance in Quebec companies.

This concept, originating from Google and quite popular in the United States and France, is finding its place in Quebec, especially in Montreal. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to showcase this “brand new” profession and my daily life as Vooban’s C.H.O.
C.H.O., as you might have guessed, means Chief of Happiness Officer. In French, we call them G.O. de bureau, or gentils organisateurs. The first thing to know about my job is that I am basically responsible for promoting employee happiness in the office. Before I show you some examples, I want to tell you about my personal and professional journey and what I did to land a job as a C.H.O. at Vooban.

What does it take to become a C.H.O.?

This type of job obviously requires a strong desire to work with people, a good amount of creativity, and some interpersonal, organizational, and planning skills. For my part, it’s after studies in theatre, travels, and a job in the tourist industry that I wondered what kind of diploma could tie together my strong interests in activity planning and – above all, in human relations. That’s when I found out about the bachelor’s degree in Leisure, Culture and Tourism at l’Universtié du Québec à Trois-Rivières, which I completed in 2013. It allowed me to continue working in the tourist industry and then to focus on recreational activities in municipal settings, primary schools, and colleges. Yet despite these great experiences, I still felt like I hadn’t found my calling and that something was missing. I needed more contact with people.
Then the opportunity to become C.H.O. presented itself. I had never heard about this kind of career before, and the job description interested me right away. Vooban already had a lot going on, such as monthly activities with the Social Club, a beer brewing project in collaboration with a local microbrewery and various services offered to employees (training during lunchtime, hairdressing service, unlimited coffee and snacks, etc.). And that’s not mentioning the beer tap, foosball table and videogame corner! It’s part of Vooban’s culture to take care of their own, and that’s why we strive to provide a friendly workplace where people can experience meaningful moments. I made it a personal matter to contribute to this positive work atmosphere, which was like nothing I had known before.

What’s my typical day like?

When I arrive at the office, some of the employees are already having coffee in the kitchen. I take the time to chat with them, to ask them about their day ahead, their night out or even their family, all the while filling bowls with fresh fruits. When the doorbell rings, I’m the one in charge of answering - I walk over and open with a smile. If it’s mail, I distribute it, and if it’s clients I offer a coffee or a glass of water.

Then I tackle my emails, take care of upcoming orders, manage activity registrations, check if we have everything we need in the kitchen, etc. When it’s a colleague’s birthday, I decorate their desk with balloons and I offer them my best wishes in person, then send a virtual birthday card to our internal chat platform. At dinnertime, I talk with the other employees about upcoming events, tell them how it would be fun if they’d be there. When a colleague gets out of a big meeting, I ask them how it went and what I can do to make them feel better. It usually ends by pouring a small glass of beer and giving them a cookie or two. All of this, I do while taking care of my daily administrative tasks.

How is my job making a difference in the life of my colleagues?

Speaking from my experience so far, I would say it’s all about the small gestures. For example, taking the time to listen to a colleague’s car accident story even if I’m in the middle of an important project, or ordering gluten-free beer for a colleague that requires it. It’s the candies I leave on the doorstep of an employee during the covid pandemic or buying breakfast for someone who couldn’t eat because of an emergency. All the little things that don’t require a lot of time or energy, but which never fail to put a smile on my colleagues’ faces.

For this, you need to be alert, listen to everyone’s needs, be available and know how to avoid tensions, whether personal or professional. It allows you to constantly assess what is already in place and try to improve it. I can personally vouch for the impact this has had on our team spirit.
Speaking of, I can’t tell you how big of a challenge it was to keep spirits up during lockdown and bring happiness through screens. Finding a way to keep in touch with each other was a real head-scratcher. I had to use a good dose of creativity, which is an essential part of my job.
I would like to conclude by telling you this: never hesitate to make any small gestures, no matter how simple. It will surely light a spark that will make all the difference in your coworkers’ day.

Yours truly, The happiest C.H.O. on earth

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