As a director of Heart4Happiness, Sheila Neijman develops growth programs for people and organizations in which happiness at work, personal happiness and emotional intelligence are the connecting elements. Sheila started Heart4Happiness more than 10 years ago, making her one of the first to create and sustain a successful business based on happiness.


Happiness at work. Is it possible? Is it valuable? How do people in your organization look at happiness on the work floor?

If you define happiness at work as life satisfaction or wellbeing, then happiness is possible in any system. A parenting system, an educational system or a working system. But for any of those systems, the prerequisite for happiness is a climate that is emotionally safe. Unfortunately organizations as a whole are often not that successful in creating such environment.


Different generations have different expectations from their employers. What is the most significant difference you see between the expectation of the younger generations compared to the older ones?

The biggest differences with the younger generations are caused by the technology they grew up with. Already in school, the younger generations started to challenge the system. Demanding things to be different. And using the new sources provided by technology to get their arguments together. This trend continues as they enter the business world. And I am happy to see it. The younger generation seems to have a high level of understanding of the systems they live in and I have a lot of faith that they will do a great job changing education and organizations when they get older.


Employee Engagement is a term that is widely used, but oftentimes interpreted differently. In your opinion, what should we be talking about when we discuss Employee Engagement?

I see a big difference in being satisfied, and being engaged. I had been satisfied at work before, but as an entrepreneur I’m so incredibly engaged. When you are truly working in an engaged manner, everything flows. Unfortunately, employee engagement is generally very poor. Globally only 13% of people is actively engaged at work. In the Netherlands that is even lower, with 9%. And a lot of research points out that an emotionally unsafe environment, where people don’t feel free to professionally express themselves, is one of the main drivers for it. Another factor is the lack of attention for emotional intelligence at work. Emotional intelligence is key in creating an environment where people become ever more engaged with their jobs, and investing in it is the best advice I can give to any organization. Especially to invest in emotional intelligence of leadership teams, as they have the biggest influence on the working environment and the responsibility to create an environment that is emotionally safe.


HR Technology is evolving rapidly. Which HR Tech do you expect to have the biggest impact on your organization in 2017?

2daysmood! Hahaha. Well to be honest, I don’t see a specific App at the moment that will have the single biggest impact. But there is a lot of interesting technology being developed in the spectrum of self-development. I myself use an App for stress management. It comes with sort of a watch that measures your heartrate, and the App informs and advises you on your stress levels. For me this works, and it’s interesting. On a deeper level of science, there is work going on based on the Neurophone invented by Patrick Flanagan, a device that allows transmission of sound via the nervous system to the brain, allowing you to learn using only your skin. This may seems strange at first, but I’m following it with great interest.


Interested to learn more about Sheila Neijman? Or would you like to know more about the growth and personal development programs Sheila offers? Please visit her company page.