People are more productive when they are happy at work. The company bob Finance knows that. The online credit provider has even made one of its staff their Chief Happiness Officer. That employee is the senior UX designer Chiara Bello and part of her job is to maintain a happy working atmosphere at bob.
Chiara Bello joined bob Finance to work as a senior UX designer in corporate design and branding. But she has also taken up the the role of Chief Happiness Officer. So, in addition to managing the financial service provider’s visual appearance, she also promotes happiness in the workplace.
There are a number of ingredients in the recipe for achieving happiness at work. For instance, the work must be enjoyable, challenging and leading to progress. Then you need people to feel comfortable as part of a team. The team should be keen to work on projects together, try new approaches, deal with setbacks and celebrate success. An inspiring working environment is equally important as are shared values and goals. That’s what bob Finance has to offer. The financial services company, founded as a start-up in 2015, is part of the Valora Group and now employs 25 financial and technological experts. In May 2018, bob moved into new premises in Zurich called Westhive. The co-working space is also home to the Valora Lab and creative teams from a number of other companies. “The open and cooperative atmosphere is just what we need. We thrive on the spirit of creativity – it is the fertile soil for new ideas and constructive work,” explains Hilmar Scheel, CEO of bob Finance.
An attractive employer for innovative minds
At the same time, job satisfaction does not come solely from enjoying work, having good team members and an inspiring environment. Happiness at work comes from experiencing positivity in the company. Chiara Bello has been working at bob for several years as senior UX designer. She brought the title of Chief Happiness Officer with her as her former boss had called her that due to her temperament. “I’m a happy person and I don’t take things too seriously”, explains the Italian citizen. This light-hearted gesture by her boss lit a spark within Chiara Bello and it will never leave her. She asked herself how being happy can influence someone’s career and day-to-day work. She did some internet research and quickly realised that happiness is a broad topic backed up by science. Chiara Bello became curious and wanted to know more. Her journey of discovery brought her to a distance-learning course in the Science of Happiness at the University of Berkeley, California. “I began to implement what I learned from the course. I experimented to find out how to make people feel relaxed and happy at work,” she explains. She once started a meeting with five managers by meditating and asking them to close their eyes and stay still for a minute. “I was nervous at the beginning because I didn’t know if they would do it!” The experiment ultimately worked out and has been well received.
Add a dash of humour
Happiness also needs a generous dose of humour. Chiara Bello understands that it is very important to keep the sense of humour at work, no matter what the challenges are. “There is actually a medical reason for that: humour at work makes people relax more. That leads to be open to new ideas and to not take things personally. You are allowed to fail from time to time and it makes things a bit easier. As a result, people feel closer to their colleagues, they communicate better, for example, and spread important information more quickly.” Chiara Bello also states that humour can be a sensitive/cultural issue as some people don’t like to mix humour with their work. “People often worry that they won’t come across as professional as if they were funny.”
All the bob staff have been very receptive to the subject of happiness from the start. “It’s important to make employees enjoy being at work. That’s how they identify with the company.” Chiara Bello is also convinced that including employees in development processes yields more benefit than simply benefiting from their know-how: “Feeling your opinion is wanted, and the fact that you can make a difference creates mutual trust. That has a major influence on life in general as well as on motivation and performance in the workplace.” The bob slogan “we take care” is not just for the customers and partners, it also applies to each one of the employees.
Values are key to happiness. Chiara Bello organised creative workshops with all the staff to define bob’s own values and vision. “We asked ourselves what our vision should be, what our values and objectives are and how we can achieve them.” They came up with 150 ideas. “We are convinced that the employees only really identify with values and goals when they have actually defined them as opposed to receiving them as a fact.”
Chiara Bello finds laughter in many things, not least her baby son. “He’s almost two now. Seeing him experiencing the world in a funny way is pure joy.” Her key to happiness is laughter: “I always try to keep my sense of humour, even in times of stress – both at and outside work”, she says with a smile.
Photos: Markus Bertschi
bob Finance: Convenience in online credit
bob Finance is a financial services provider offering online credit at fair and transparent conditions at www.bob.ch. Over 14,000 customers have achieved their small and big goals through bob, including home renovations, an expensive move or buying a new car. bob also offers loans to finance education/professional training courses or so-called health loans for unexpectedly costly surgical procedures. bob currently employs 25 staff. bob Finance aims to make the customer’s life as easy as possible through digital payments and financing solutions.