Do you know how our Happiness@Work Conference was born?
Get rid of these employees!
Our founder, Jim Lippens, worked for 17 years in a production environment when - one day - his boss asked if he was interested to become the plant manager of a business unit of three departments with 108 employees. Jim got two days to reflect upon it. After one day Jim decided to accept the offer. His decision was not obvious at all, as he had no experience of leading such a large group. More over the business unit was losing money for tens of years.
On day one in his new role, Jim got the order to fire 27 employees…
The plan of the new shareholders was to fire all 108 workers within a maximum of 3 months.
Jim was shocked as the management did not inform him about this in advance and also because he was aware of the huge potential of some of these employees.
When Jim saw the fear in the eyes of these employees waiting for their potential personal terrible news, Jim decided to do everything he could, for them.
Jim just could not accept the idea of firing these skilled workers and wanted to reverse this desperate move of the management. But how? The clock was ticking!
Shift from a culture of fear to a culture of love
Jim started working 16 hours a day willing to save these 81 remaining employees’ jobs under terrible time pressure.
From day 1 it was clear to him that he had to win the trust of the employees and together they had to make their business unit profitable within 1 month.
A plan was made in cooperation with all operators. As Jim had extensive prior experience of these departments in project improvements and tests, Jim knew the equipment and machinery well. Jim also embraced the knowledge and experience of these workers as well. Results started to show soon. After 1 month, the business unit started to make the first profit in more than 30 years!
Engagement and mutual respect kept increasing and the business unit started to deliver money on a monthly basis now. Top management did not understand how this was happening, and increased the pressure on Jim’s business unit to deliver even more.
In his role as a servant leader, Jim tried to keep pressure away from the shop floor and started focusing on their passion and talent. In a culture of belonging, the true heart connection between all team members became the base for excellent results. As these employees started to develop even self-invented innovative products, companies from all over Belgium and even from the UK came to visit the shop floor.
Jim’s leadership style was armed with vulnerability, which made him relatable, approachable and cemented the heart connection with his team.
This was the element in his approach that took the plant to unprecedented levels of peak performance. Four years later, the ‘problem department’ (which had only 10% of the total plant population), delivered monthly 85% of the total plant operational result, absenteeism was reduced by 95% and employee turn-over was zero in 4 years.
Our first conference was born
Jim came to realize that happiness at work was a crucial ingredient in business and it was no rocket science: it is mainly the right focus to the human factor and individual attention to each person’s full potential.
Jim experienced the complete transformation in detail and thought it was time to show the world how a human centered approach is far more effective for all parties/people involved.
This gave birth to the idea of organizing the first edition of the Happiness@Work Conference in October 2018!
Jim contacted a famous Belgian ‘event expert’ and the moment Jim told him he wanted to have 250+ attendees for an event with the topic wellbeing and happiness at work, this expert kept laughing. Jim thanked him for the indirect motivation and started creating a team to turn his idea into reality, in which Tom Herrijgers was one of the co-founders.
October 9th 2018, nearly 300 CEO’s and HR managers attended the first sold out H@W event with top speakers from Belgium and the Netherlands.
The initial idea was to organize the event only once, but the amazing atmosphere of the event and the positive reactions afterwards created a huge demand for a second edition, which was again visited by 300+ attendees in a sold-out venue.
That day, Virginie, the presenter came to Jim and said: “in order to give a signal to the whole world, we should fill the ‘Sportpaleis’” (Belgium’s biggest venue with 12.000 seats).
Jim looked her in the eyes and replied: “OK. I promise: We’ll do it”.
Covid-19 created our Movement & Academy
In the meantime happiness expert and visionary partner Asha Lalai joined our team, and the next steps were planned to realize this dream: edition 3 of H@W would be organized in the epic Queen Elizabeth Hall, with a capacity of 1800 seats.
When the pandemic forced us to postpone the 3rd edition, the delay was used to expand the team with Pascal Strauss and Dimitri Tops to set up the Happiness@Work Movement and Academy. Now every month, new team members are enthusiastically joining.
Our world class line-up of international speakers and our team are now fully preparing for the December 13th 2021 edition which will be the biggest Happiness@Work Conference of Europe.
Our goal for this conference is clear:
We want to send a powerful signal to the corporate world, reminding them of their corporate social responsibility so that they prioritize happiness at work, leading to even greater effectivity and lasting overall results.
We want to keep our promise and stay on track … to fill the ‘Sportpaleis’ with 12.000 people by 2024, and become the world’s biggest Happiness@Work event.
By creating a complete ‘Eco System’ Movement-Academy-Conference we want to change workplaces for the better, as we are convinced happiness at work is an essential contributor to personal happiness as well as to Business and Economy.
We hope you join us on our mission and we look forward to see you at the 3th Happiness@Work Conference on December 13th 2021!