Michael Poulsen, software developer and Chief Happiness Officer, shows off Valtech’s order of the elephant.
The Danish division of the French software company Valtech are very committed to creating a happy workplace. One of their developers, Michael Poulsen, volunteered to be the company’s Chief Happiness Officer for a year and his first initative was to introduce an initative based on the most prestitious award in the Kingdom of Denmark, The Order of the Elephant.
This is how he introduced the idea to Valtech’s 100 Danish employees:
I’m happy to be able to introduce Valtechs first Happiness@Work initiative: The Valtech Order of the Elephant.
To bring all the good things we do for each other out in the light.
How it works:
The elephant is passed on from co-worker to co-worker on a weekly basis, with a reason why it is passed to that person in particular.
The reason for passing the elephant on to a new co-worker is up to you. Maybe someone helped you move apartment, fix a bug in your code or just have a positive impact on your day by always being happy and smiling.
There are only a few ground rules:
- Whenever you receive the elephant you may only hold on to it for a maximum of one week.
- Whenever you pass along the elephant you need to tell the person you give it to why they receive it and send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the receiver and the reason why. (I’m working on a way to visualize the reasons).
- When the elephant is in your possession he needs to be in plain view so everyone passing your desk can see him (and maybe even ask why you got it… hint hint).
- Optional: Remember to supply him with lots of peanuts.
The reasoning behind all this is based on the Danish pioneer in happiness at work (arbejdsglæde) Alexander Kjerulf. He states that happiness at work is based on two things. Our results and our personal relations.
I hope you all will accept and support the initiative so we can keep it rolling… Elephants get very old you know :-)
A closeup of the elephant – which was donated by the CEO’s 6-year old son.
Since then the elephant has been circulating around the office, and here are some of the recipients – and the reason why they got it:
The first stop for the Order of the Elephant, on his long journey will be at Michael Gyde Møllers desk. He is receiving the company of the elephant for the next week because he has always been happy to help me when I was in a tight spot, and always did so with a smile, which means a lot to me.
The Elephant has moved, this time to Eri! At Eri’s the elephant will find itself a good home since she with such good humor shares her invaluable insights in the mysterious danish society. Through her cultural background and experience she’s able to help recent visitors to understand Denmark, may it be swedes or elephants :)
Elephant is now moved to Lone. Elephant has chosen Lone because she is always happy and sweet fair and understanding great at project management (so developers can enjoy working on the project)
I think this just fantastic. It is a fun, simple and above all highly visible way to praise and appreciate co-workers. Kudos to Michael for doing this and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
What do you think of this? Does your workplace already so something similar? Could this work for you? What does getting praise and recognition from your peers mean to you? Write a comment, I’d like to know your take.