18 Jun Could your business do better with more happiness?
by Jim Witkin for the Guardian
Zappos, America's largest online shoe retailer, has achieved success by nearly every conventional measure. Founded in 1999, the company reached $1bn in annual sales in less than 10 years and was acquired by Amazon in 2009 in a deal worth $1.2bn. Yet, it's the company's unconventional culture and a business model based on happiness that Zappos's chief executive, Tony Hsieh, wants to share with the rest of the world.
Hsieh recently brought his message to the UK parliament, where he spoke on a panel discussion entitled Happy Workers = Business Growth? hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics.
By focusing on company culture, he told the parliamentary group, everything else such as building a brand with sustained revenue growth and passionate employees, fell into place. Zappos's culture is guided by a set of core values which aims to empower employees, create a sense of community in the workplace, and serve a higher purpose beyond bottom-line metrics.
Employees should have a sense of control and progress in their careers, says Hsieh. Zappos developed a set of skills for their call centre reps, rather than a one-size-fits-all job description. Employees directly control their salary increases as they acquire the skills that interest them at their own pace, rather than waiting for fixed review periods or annual raises.
Zappos encourages employees to "create fun and a little weirdness" in the workplace and build personal connections with co-workers. To protect this feeling of community, Zappos carefully vets each new applicant for a cultural match. The company even offers new employees $4,000 to quit after their first week of training to weed out people who are there just for the paycheck…
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