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Monday, June 14, 2010

Zappos: Where Happy Employees Deliver

Zappos celebrates happy individuals
Have you noticed how organizations with happy employees have a vibe unlike other places of work? They are encouraging, supportive and fun.  Employees walk with an undeniable bounce; their humor is contagious, their energy levels inexhaustible, their enthusiasm boundless and they deliver on business goals. That's what I experienced when I visited Zappos HQ in February 2010.

[Previous posts in this series about Zappos include Zappos Embodies Customer Service and Zappos and Service.]

Not that I felt that those I encountered had been brainwashed. Quite the opposite. This was the real deal: happy, grounded, self-confident and highly motivated employees determined to deliver on 'powered by service' to customers.

Perhaps you're aware that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has just published Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose [here is one review: Delivering Happiness – The Key to a Great Company].  Happy @ Zappos, an interview with Hsieh, provides perspective on "the science of happiness which infuses the Zappos culture and explains its astonishing success."  More specifically, "one of the frameworks is that happiness is about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (meaning the number and depth of your relationships) and being part of something that is bigger than yourself that has meaning to you."

 Zappos' fun office environment
The interview explains how connectedness goes hand-in-hand with company culture which leads to employees being more engaged and happier.  "... Employee engagement leads to better productivity."

I love Hsieh's statement that "the best social media is the telephone and yet that's boring so no one wants to talk about it.  People tend to refer to 'social media' as a technology, but that skips over the actual benefit or purpose of it.  For us, it's more about forming personal and emotional connections."

That relationship building is a big deal inside the company as well as with customers.  This article Tireless Employees Get Their Tribute, Even if It's in Felt and Polyester gives a taste for how unique Zappos' culture and approach to people are. Customer loyalty team employees stay on the phone with customers "for as long as you wanted to talk. They would talk about anything."  The Zappos "customer loyalty team is not scripted and is not measured on time of calls."  The end result is fierce customer loyalty, strong company growth and passionately motivated employees...

who are encouraged to be themselves as On a Scale of 1 to 10, How Weird Are You?, another interview with Tony Hsieh, explains.  One of Zappos' 10 core values is "create fun and a little weirdness" which celebrates individual differences and personalities.  Personality is what comes through in those customer loyalty conversations...

The company's yearly Culture Book project where everyone contributes his/her perspective on the 10 core values is what creates commonality of language and experience and consistency of commitment to 'powered by service.'

I can't help but contrast the Zappos celebration of individuality to what I have observed in my workplace travels... That combined with perceived control, progress, connectedness and being part of something bigger than just you makes for a powerfully motivating and happy work environment.

What's your reaction? Are you happy in your workplace? Are your employees? How well do you all collaborate to deliver on results?


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