Sustainable Pace

July 6th, 2011

Happy Hour Is 9 To 5
(Alexander Kjerulf, 2011)

The concept of happiness at work deeply resonates in me. That's why I was curious to discover "Happy Hour Is 9 to 5" by Alexander Kjerulf, who labels himself Chief Happiness Officer. He argues that companies who put employee happiness first will more and more have an edge over their competitors in the future, in contrast to companies who focus on revenue or even customer satisfaction.

Sustainable Pace

The book is available for free, but I ordered a print copy at Lulu. First of all, this book stinks! Hehe, I'm not rating the content, but the actual book: the pages are really smelly and made the book painful to read. I don't know if it's an issue with Lulu or with the postal service, but it made me long for an ebook reader.

The author, Alexander Kjerulf, is an absolutely energetic person, and his enthusiasm vibrates throughout the book. He is capable of energizing people and empowering them to make the changes necessary to create a happier workplace. I assume he must be a great coach, and I would love to have him around. Just listen to his talk at TEDxCopenhagen, and you'll agree.

Kjerulf lists six virtues which make a happy workplace: Being positive, having the ability to learn, being open, participating, finding meaning and loving. I'm not sure how he came up with these six, as there is no mention of a scientific background or anything. I assume it's the outcome of his coaching activities. While these factors make sense, they somehow seem arbitrary to me, and I could also go with nef's Five Ways To Well-Being and not miss anything. But then, this is not a scientific book.

For my money, Alexander Kjerulf is a better speaker than writer. For example, the book has loads of bullet point lists in it, which ruin the flow for me. It is a quick read, yet somehow feels like a couple of loose strings tied together, like patched together from blog posts. I wish it would have been more consistent, focused and meaty, for example, I would have loved to hear more in-depth of his coaching experiences, or in general, at least some shades of grey.

Maybe the biggest issue I have with this book is that the author puts happiness above everything else. I guess there are plenty of happy companies out there who would benefit more from focusing on other aspects in order to stay competitive. To me, happiness is less a goal, its a side effect if other factors like competence, autonomy and relatedness are well-aligned.

But despite feeling a little shallow and black and white, the author definitely hits home the message that workplace happiness is important, and I deeply thank him for spreading the word. Get this book if you want to become energized and get enthusiatic about workplace happiness!

The review might have a negative ring to it, but coming from the deeply scientific "Happiness" by Bruno Frey (which I still haven't reviewed), I already had a good overview on the state of Happiness Research. Update: I have reviewed the book here.

Or maybe it was just because the book was smelly...

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