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The top 4 leadership roles gaining in popularity

August 6, 2021

The workforce is in a constant state of flux. Since the beginning of COVID, we’ve seen a massive shift from the standard 9-5 office dynamic to a more flexible schedule. Many companies are now giving their employees the option to work from home, and some, like Facebook, have chosen to keep that policy indefinitely.

As the economy and workplace dynamics change, new leadership positions are emerging to ease the transition and improve employee and customer satisfaction across the board.

This article outlines 4 of the most prominent leadership positions that are gaining in popularity today.

1. Chief Happiness Officer

Over the last decade, statistics on employee unhappiness and dissatisfaction are showing an unnerving trend. According to a 2013 Gallup report, only 30% of the workforce is engaged, and nearly 1 employee out of 5 is actively disengaged. This is supported by a 2019 study by CareerBuilder found that 70% of workers say they don’t feel satisfied in their careers.

Contrast these figures with a landmark 2015 study by the University of Warwick where researchers found that happier employees are 12% more productive. With this, many companies realized the importance of investing in employee happiness, as it’s beneficial for both their staff and the company’s bottom line.

As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of companies appoint a Chief Happiness Officer to monitor happiness throughout the company. This title likely originated in the US and has since been adopted in the UK and Europe.

Ensuring employee happiness is no easy task as it depends on a wide range of factors. Happiness in the workplace emerges from the following:

  • Employees doing something that they’re good at
  • Having the freedom (within guidelines) to do their job well
  • Being listened to and valued
  • Having a manager who coaches rather than tells
  • A no-blame company culture
  • A flexible work schedule

As such, the Chief Happiness Officer seeks to understand employee behavior and develop internal strategies and systems that create a company culture that breeds happiness organically. This position is common in many top companies today including SAP, Amazon, Google, and Airbnb.  As a result, their employees are more productive, efficient, and engaged.

2. Chief Customer Officer

Typically, companies focus their products and messaging on customer expectations and satisfaction. That’s great, but now companies are realizing how impactful it can be to take it a step further to focus on customer delight.

Customer delight is defined as exceeding a customer’s expectations and creating a positive emotional reaction. It’s what makes the difference between someone enjoying your product and them wanting to tell all their friends about it. Some ways that companies increase customer delight is by giving away free gifts, rewarding loyal customers, and finding other ways to really go above and beyond.

With the rise in importance of customer delight comes the need for someone to manage this aspect of the customer relationship. This is where the Chief Customer Officer position comes in.

A Chief Customer Officer is tasked with analyzing the data on customer success and working to translate that into increased customer empathy, loyalty, and retention. It’s a role that’s centered around creating an exceptional experience for customers and it exists at a growing number of companies including Zuora, Algolia and Optimizely.

3. Chief Listening Officer

Every company, whether large or small, has a significant amount of internal and external communication happening at any time. Communication drives relationships, so it’s important that all communication is carefully designed, delivered, and monitored to enhance relationships with employees and customers alike.

The Chief Listening Officer specializes in this broad monitoring and analysis of all company communication – both internal and external. They play a key role in developing an organization’s marketing campaigns and overall business strategy.

Last summer, Jeff Lerner tweeted about a loose lid that popped off his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and soaked his white shirt and new car. Within 15 minutes, Dunkin’ had followed Lerner on Twitter, sent him a direct message asking for his phone number, and called him to apologize. On top of that, he received a $10 gift card.

Lerner then followed up with a blog post saying, “This is social media. This is listening. This is engagement. This is everything that corporations should strive for.”

This is a great example of the impact a Chief Listening Officer can have on a company’s internal and external relationships. In this case, it was attentive communication that transformed an angry customer into a public company advocate. The Chief Listening Officer’s role is to turn these instances from the exception to the rule.

It’s a relatively new role, but with the increasing proliferation of social media across our culture, companies are actively looking for Chief Listening Officers to gather and analyze all the communication data available. This allows them to improve products and services, foster more impactful customer relationships, and improve customer retention.

4. Chief Remote Officer

As more companies transition to flexible or fully remote working policies, there is an increasing need to be strategic and thoughtful in the approach. Especially since only 5% of companies expect a full return to the office once the pandemic is over. Since Facebook announced they were transitioning to a fully remote workforce, they posted a job listing for a Chief Remote Officer to monitor employees working remotely and implement strategies to best support employees and the company moving forward.  

But this isn’t unique to Facebook. Many companies have realized the importance of a Chief Remote Officer and are adding the position to their corporate leadership.

The role of a Chief Remote Officer typically involves the following:

  • Training managers to support, coach, and evaluate remote workers
  • Refining the hiring process, along with updated benefits packages, employee evaluations, etc.
  • Company auditing to ensure that all employees have the tools and resources they need to succeed from a home office
  • Setting up frameworks for collaboration across the company

While this role isn’t as critical for smaller organizations, larger companies stand to benefit immensely from adding this position to corporate leadership. Those that are ahead of the curve will smooth the transition to a remote working environment and ensure that productivity, effectiveness, and employee satisfaction remain high.

Leadership roles continue to evolve

As the economy continues to shift, it’s important for companies to adapt by expanding their leadership and catering to the needs of their employees and customers. The 4 leadership positions outlined here are just beginning to appear in corporations, but will surely only increase in number going forward.

Keep a close eye on your company culture, customer relationships, and employee support systems. It’s possible that one of these leadership positions could make all the difference for your org.  

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