The Happiness proposition

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on June 25, 2020

A still from RPG Enterprises’ Hello Happiness corporate film

A still from RPG Enterprises’ HelloHappiness corporate film   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Brands could use positivity during crisis times

Fear, uncertainty, depression — these seem to be the dominant emotions in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Listen to conversations around you and on social media and the feeling of dread and panic is everywhere. And yet, perversely, this is the time that Raj Nayak, former COO of Viacom 18, has chosen to launch, a new division under the umbrella of his firm, House of Cheer. The service has a proprietary tool to measure the happiness quotient of companies and currently has a free trial tool called People Voice 24/7.

Isn’t it counter-intuitive to launch such a service at a time when people are feeling far from happy? At a time when layoffs, pay cuts, lack of business opportunities are pulling down morale in organisations?

Nayak says within a day of making the announcement earlier this week, he got 18 enquiries. He says it is not a one-off service but a two-year journey with clients in which they not only gather insights through happiness audits but also do interventions.

“We are trying to seed happiness,” says Nayak, whose Twitter handle is @rajcheerful.

The right time

Veteran marketer and angel investor Lloyd Mathias feels this is the best time to sell a happiness proposition. “Everyone is looking to pull themselves up mentally. Brands are trying to use positivity as a communication tool,” he points out.

Happiness is not a new idea per se. Remember Coca Cola had “Open Happiness” as its tagline way back in 2009 and for a number of years ran gurgling, fizzy, campaigns that uncorked positive emotions. But Open Happiness was a proposition focused on customers.

In terms of seeding happiness among employees, Harsh Goenka-led RPG Enterprises has been doing it for a while now. In 2018, moving away from the standard lines that companies usually use of innovation, growth, scale, it had outlined happiness as a value proposition to its employees and brand promise to its customers.

Harsh Goenka


Says Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Enterprises, “We keep that philosophy in everything we do and it is evident in how we treat our large work-family, our diverse customers, various stakeholders and the society. It is rooted in our community outreach programmes, product innovations and our ethical practices and transparent governance.”

The industrialist, whose own posts on Twitter are always upbeat and jovial, adds, “We aspire to continue being the “happy place” our employees look forward to coming to each morning and furthering our brand promise of happiness to benefit the larger society.”

Six months ago, RPG used “Hello Happiness’ as an effective tagline in its corporate film that shows the journey of an infectious tune. The joyous tune originates in a happy workplace showing what an impact the emotion can have outside the office too. During the current Covid-19 pandemic too the company says it has been striving to foster an environment of happiness and security through constant communication and by facilitating a healthy work-life balance.

Measuring joy

But how do you measure something like happiness? As Mathias points out, companies and brands do periodic satisfaction and engagement surveys but there is room for more hard metrics around happiness.

Nayak feels ‘engagement’, which is quite the buzzword among corporates, tends to be transactional and uni-dimensional. Instead, focus should be on ‘Involvement’, which is two-dimensional and deep-rooted.

Nayak’s company has partnered with human insights company, The Happiness Index, to develop the proprietary tool that measures the happiness quotient.

But can happiness be really seeded? Mathias points out how the Delhi government had introduced happiness in its school curriculum two years ago. Around the same time, the Madhya Pradesh government too initiated a project to make people in the State feel happier. In fact, MP is probably the first State in the country to set up a department of happiness and has been developing a happiness index. The idea behind it, as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had explained in a blog post, was to find out why, despite achieving prosperity, happiness continues to elude many.

That’s pretty much a million-dollar question.

Published on June 25, 2020

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