Do you love your job? Do your employees? Co-workers? Friends? Do you understand why?
I consumed Tony Hsieh's "Delivering Happiness" a little more than a week ago and I've spent the time since digesting. It isn't that the book is particularly dense, but rather that Hsieh works around an idea I find too important, too compelling to disengage from: we should be happy. Happy with our jobs, with our friends, and with our lives. But why should your employer be actively involved in this discussion?
I shared one of Dan Pink's videos awhile ago. Pink believes that "Autonomy, Master & Purpose" are the three cornerstones for motivation in a knowledge based economy (read more on this in Pink's "Drive"). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studies optimal experiences. In his work "Flow" he ties happiness and overall life satisfaction to our ability to experience these creative and deeply involved moments in our lives. In short, your business can't afford not to care about your happiness.
Hsieh raises other excellent points as well. He advocates for corporate culture, not merely as an extension of your corporate brand, but as the brand itself. Who you hire and how they interact with your employees, vendors and customers creates a brand far more permanent and meaningful than any commercial campaign. AT&T can advertise as many devices, satisfied customers and coverage maps as they like-- anyone who has called and had to work through their technical support process receives a completely different message, one that is far more personal and compelling, I might add. (AT&T, I'm still waiting for you to move my upgrade eligibility date forward, as you've done for everyone else I know who purchased an iPhone 3GS on launch day last year).
Hsieh doesn't claim to have all the answers. The process that's worked so well at Zappos has evolved over a decade and can't be transplanted to other organizations. But some of their great ideas can. Do you provide classes for your employees on site? Actively solicit employee feedback on company culture? Do you protect your culture throughout your recruiting and application processes? Do you offer to pay new employees thousands of dollars to walk away, no questions asked?
At the end of the day, the rewards to pursuing happiness in business, as in life, are numerous. For Hsieh, the biggest reward is still having a job that he loves. If Zappos has successfully created a culture that can keep Hsieh and other early Zappos employees happy and engaged even after their Amazon acquisition, doesn't that say more about these theories than even the $1.2B Zappos purchase price? _What ways do you promote and protect your corporate culture? Who are your most valuable employees or co-workers-- are they happy?_