MS. Could you start by telling us a bit about your role at IHN? You are popularly known as the ‘Chief Happiness Officer’, how do you define happiness at work place?
Punam Singh. I am the Chief Happiness Officer at Indian Hospitality Network – IHN. Along with the dynamic Founder, Abhishek Garg, I have had the opportunity and excitement of building IHN from an idea in our hearts, into an organization, a little over a year down the line, which our members and industry colleagues who meet and engage with us, have begun to immensely value. The IHN journey, embarked upon during Covid times, had more than our fair share of challenges, but such was the purity of our intent to build something worthwhile for our industry colleagues, that the Universe rewarded us with success, slowly, but surely!
“Quality of life is increasingly being recognized along with HAPPINESS as an Indice. Organisations now know that the output from a HAPPY employee versus a stressed/unhappy one ultimately impacts their bottom line negatively.”
MS. In a time where employee happiness at work is more important than ever, many companies are turning towards Chief Happiness Officers. Why are they important now?
Punam Singh. Quality of life is increasingly being recognized along with HAPPINESS as an Indice. Organisations now know that the output from a HAPPY employee vs. a stressed, unhappy one ultimately impacts their bottom line negatively. Environments are becoming more humane and politically correct. Happiness goes viral very quickly. So it is not just relevant but extremely desirable from the corporate standpoint. Happiness is a state of mind and of being! It is different things for different folks!
At IHN, to begin with, doing something close to our hearts with a sense of purpose, engaging with industry colleagues to convey hope for the future and with new hires for whom we meant a job in extremely constrained times, dealing diplomatically with our families who found it tough to accept that we were going out to work during rampant Covid spread conditions, trying to remain “safe” and upbeat all through – each day was an achievement and Happiness contributor. We constantly encouraged each other and the very fact that the IHN team looked forward to coming to office each day, the camaderie and positive spirits all around; that was HAPPINESS. Our members on boarding was Happiness, getting an enviable Board of Advisors was Happiness, forging collaborative relationships was Happiness, doing small yet successful physical events when so many were scared of stepping out was Happiness, getting appreciated and talked about was Happiness, growing the IHN Team with fellow believers was Happiness, adding amazing members pan India was Happiness, having our members take ownership was Happiness, introducing new ideas that worked and staying ahead of the Covid curve, supporting each other through good times and bad and growing steadily with integrity IS HAPPINESS.
So yes, overall, we are a happy bunch!
MS. Please tell us more about the IHN initiative.
Punam Singh. Simply put, IHN is about the three prongs of CONNECT – NETWORK – SYNERGISE! This collaboration focused platform believes whole heartedly in #truerelationships; supporting each other and growing with each other. If the Covid Pandemic has driven home one important lesson to everyone, which we immediately imbibed, it was to Support or Perish!
More details can be had from www.indianhospitalitynetwork.com !
MS. Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the profound changes it is causing, we believe that marketers will need to think hard and differently. As a marketing consultant too, what do you think about consumer behaviour in the new normal?
Punam Singh. Economics and trends drive consumer behaviour in normal times. The Pandemic has turned the market upside down totally. People have learned to slow down, to reconnect with family, to learn to co-exist and work from home – WFH, effectively, while sharing space with parents / spouse / partner / siblings / kids / pets! Organisations have also recognized, albeit a bit reluctantly, that WFH can actually cut costs dramatically and employees can still be effective; indeed, improvisation and innovation have been drivers! Almost everyone has learned to TECH UP and acquired at least one, if not multiple new skill sets.
Speaking for myself, I learned to unwind and slow down, spent a huge amount of time as an Empath supporting folks, became a bit of a cooking wizard, enhanced my ability in animal communication with a formal course and put it to good practice, delved into DigiArt, connected more on calls and virtually with folks, became a Zoom Maestro with over 800 sessions attended or initialized, executed virtual events with panache, turned increasingly vegetarian and cultivated the valuable art of doing more with less – a complete turnaround from the shopaholic that I once was! I notice so many people in my environment with almost similar stories. Professionally in our industry, Domestic has replaced Outbound and Inbound. Trade colleagues are innovating and going bespoke in a big way!
MS. Mentoring programs can be highly impactful, but there are many factors that are critical to success. How is IHN instrumental in synergizing and helping its clients discover the X-Factor through their Unique Mentorship Program.
Punam Singh. Our Mentorship Programmes are completely bespoke and custom fitted. IHN recognizes only too well, the importance of skilling, training and development at all levels, so our advanced capsules cater to plugging important gaps, whilst the regular modules are kept on. To know more, you have to “enlist !” And yes, the X-Factor is pretty much the End Game!
MS. What have the past five or six months looked like for you? What is coming next from IHN?
Punam Singh. The last 6 months have been challenging, growth oriented and filled with learnings like never before, but we are not resting on our laurels! IHN believes in constant innovation and member engagement which we contnually strive for with our member focused initiatives, programmes and build-up!
MS. What are the key challenges surrounding our industry? In your opinion, what does the future hold for the MICE industry?
Punam Singh. Industry challenges are manifold. Starting from the fact that we are a largely unrecognized and unsupported by our government industry, lack of infrastructure, no clarity on Covid travel policy,
rules and regulations changing almost daily so it’s almost like navigating a minefield and the increased dependency upon each other for information and to work together for greater effect and mutual profit!
For the MICE Industry, the focus will continue to be domestic for at least the next 6 – 8 months. So redefining deliverables to metaphorically Sex Up the product in comparison to overseas glamorous trips is desirable by way of unusual elements, entertainment capsules, new properties, onsite engagements, accompanying party favours or gifts, catering to adventure, spiritualism, shopping, food and drink will win brownie points! Overall, the UN focus on Sustainability will also need to be concentrated upon.
MS. How would you describe your collaboration with the stakeholders as a Ghostwriter? Any piece of writerly advice that you would like to share with us.
Punam Singh. This has always been a constant with me. I believe my words will toot my horn ability wise!
MS. We all need white space – open, unassigned time for better relationships, mental health, and better productivity. On a personal note, we are curious to know what keeps you busy when you are away from work?
Punam Singh. I am a bit of a free spirit with multi interests. Family, friends, pets, reading, writing, gardening, travelling, music, events, tarot, art, story-telling, Empath work, my practice of Nichiren Buddhism, spiritualism, cooking, entertaining – the list is fairly long. And yes, I do love to sleep and enjoy a spot of well being treatments and pampering!
MS. Is there anything else you would like to add as we wrap up?
Punam Singh. Do what you love to do and believe in so it doesn’t feel like work. Mentor whenever you can. Empower women always. Be a person of integrity, a giver rather than a taker. Always inspire, spread the smiles, be kind and compassionate to folks. Build a legacy!