THC 2.0: Why HR shouldn’t try to make everyone happy at workplace?: Prabir Jha


Uniformity, however much important for workplace, can never guarantee happiness. Prabir Jha, Global Chief People Officer, Cipla shares the key to employee happiness in the new era of man and machines at the workplace.

Happiness has many faces. It can mean different things to different people and hence it is not easy to ensure, especially in workplaces where people from diverse interests, backgrounds and cultures come together. Uniformity, however much important for workplace, can never guarantee happiness. So what is it that can? What makes people happy in workplace and how do organisations need to look at this agenda of ensuring happiness at work?

At the Happiness Conclave 2.0, 30 CXOs and over 120 other HR professionals gathered to seek new answers to some pertinent questions on employee happiness, engagement and productivity in the age of intelligent machines.

Prabir Jha, Global Chief People Officer, Cipla delivered the keynote address, as he shared what will ensure employee happiness in the new era of man and machines at the workplace. He began with sharing data from a research that shows that happy employees are 85 per cent more efficient in their work and that companies with happier employees outperform competition. Yet, India ranks 122nd in the Global Happiness Index.

Sharing an example of Google, which is perceived as one of the happiest places to work, Jha explained that even in a workplace like that absolute happiness doesn’t exist. “Happiness is individual specific,” he said. Happiness means different things to different people, for some it may be a pay raise, for some a specific job responsibility; while some people may generally be happy at all times, irrespective of circumstances but others may behave differently in same circumstances.

Jha suggests that HR professionals need not try and make everyone happy. “It is not our job to make everyone happy, we should simply try to create a context where right people can choose to be happy or unhappy,” he says.

Defining real happiness at the workplace and sharing the key to ensuring the same, Jha says, “Happiness is feeling fulfilled – creativity, space, opportunity of impact creation, respect, trust, appreciation, growth and reward. Creating such an eco- system is designing happiness at work place.”

Putting it in the right context, Jha says, “Happiness is a choice,” and goes on to explain how one can ensure their own happiness.

Reflection, looking within, focusing on one’s achievements and not envying others, and contentrating on things that really matter and acceptance are what people can inculcate as habits that can lead to true happiness within.

“One can chose to be a prisoner, or be bold and seek happiness,” Jha opines.

Quoting a research, Jha shares, , that people are happiest post the age of 55 and before 25. Similarly in an organisation people are mostly happy during the first 6-8 months in an organisation and for the first 12 months in a specific role.

Jha further shares that adults have an innate tendency to be anxious of the future and remorseful of the past at most times whereas children experience absolute happiness as they are always in the present moment. Adults lose the ability to feel the same happiness with progressing time and age.

He explains, “Corporates should work towards the same and focus on softer dimensions that underpin happiness, and are more difficult to understand and ensure, but cannot be ignored as there is nothing more important that can make one happy.”

The definition of happiness for people changes as they progress in life and their career and hence, something that makes them happy today may not make them happy tomorrow.

Considering the same, Jha puts forward an important question, “Is workplace happiness an oxymoron?” He wonders if one can actually be happy at a place where they are supposed to present their best self for 9-10 hours a day.

Re-emphasising the role of HR in creating happiness at the workplace, Jha concludes, “HR and leaders’ role is to create an environment and circumstances, where people can chose to be happy.” Having said that he also shares the elements that can ensure or drive happiness in the workplace, which are, appreciation, potential fulfilment and career advancement.

Last but not the least, Jha brings together workspace and lifespace in venn diagrams to showcase that a perfect balance and intermingling of both is what creates an ideal life, as excess of either can disrupt the requisite balance and happiness in life.

(Sodexo, Art of Living Corporate Programs, XLRI, NHRDN Pune, NHRDN Mumbai, XoxoDay and Kommune are partners for The Happiness Conclave).


  1. Dear Sir.
    Excellent message
    Real great learning for all HR Engagement managers..
    I liked it very much !!!
    Thank you for such intellectual thoughts and thank you for sharing which is a great knowledge booster for us.
    Sharad Chandra

  2. Hi,
    It is very true that happiness is a choice. It is individual specific.
    Internal system in an organization may be managed by leaders and HR by defining happiness in workplace but outside organization factors of managing time , targets, EMIs, family & so on in own ambitious world may be brining unhappiness in workplace. Do we as an HR have to take higher initiatives by coaching people on finance management, time , yoga….so on?

    thanks for above article!
    warm regards,
    Nidhi Sharma
    KHS India, Human Resources
    Nidhi Sharma

  3. I liked the article very much. It is HR’s responsibility to recruit team members that they think will fit the culture of their organization.

    It is incumbent on individual leaders within the organization to create an environment where their team members can make the choice to be happy, or not.


    Chris Dawson

  4. Very true. Happiness is a choice and one can be happy at all times irrespective of circumstances Introspection, not envying others, focussing on things that really matter and acceptance are what people can inculcate as habits that can lead to true happiness within.

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