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What Makes Happy Companies

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This is a silly story about workplace happiness Main point of this story: If you are looking for a great place to spend your working hours, get inspired by the few ones focusing on happiness. In 1917, the founder of Forbes magazine wrote “Business was originated to produce happiness, not to pile up millions. Too many so-called "successful" men are making business an end and aim in itself.” Dalai Lama sais: “I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own very limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being.”


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So what if we focus on workplace happiness and get $ as bi-product? Not the other way around…


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Let’s look at happy companies, having both success and radical culture Google. Founded 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 52,000 thousand employees. Fortune magazine names Google the 2014 “Best company to work for” Zappos. Shoes online. Founded 1999 with Tony Hsieh as CEO since early days. 1400 employees. Culture advisor for HP, Hilton, … Patagonia. Outdoor clothes and gear. Founded 1972 by Yvon Chouinard. 1300 employees. CSR advisor for Walmart, Levi’s, …


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Larry Page and Sergey Brin envisioned Googleplex, a “college campus” where the brightest could brainstorm and collaborate on ideas that would change the world. To attract the best talents, they needed to provide an environment where you had fun, could dream big and get rewarded for hard work


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Mission: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful 10 things we know to be true: Focus on the user and all else will follow You can make money without doing evil You can be serious without a suit Work should be challenging, and the challenge should be fun …


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Eric Schmitt, former CEO: “fun is good” “We realize and celebrate that our employees have diverse needs, requiring flexible and individual support. A customized program.” “Programmers want to program, not do laundry” Chief Culture Czar, Stacy Sullivan, is devoted to one thing: “making Googlers happy”


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Inspiring surroundings: Offices with themes. Eco-friendly HQ Freedom to explore: Allows 20% to be spent on own projects, an opportunity to pursue ideas Remove distractions: Free on-site: doctor, child care, bike repair, laundry, gym, massage, haircuts, carwash. Can bring pets to work. Social: Offices and cafees are designed to encourage interaction. Free food


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Transparency: Weekly all-hands meeting, where Googlers can ask Larry and Sergey questions. Ethical business: Only relevant ads. Text ads, to not interfere. Ads labeled “Sponsored link”. Not possible to buy search results. Philantrophy: Google.org aim find solutions to some of the global problems facing the world today. Giving: Gift matching program up to 3000 USD per year, for non-profit organizations. Donates USD50 for every five hours a Googler volunteer. Gave 100 MUSD in grants 2012. Gave 1 BUSD in free and discounted ads in 2012 Mindful: Search Inside Yourself, a mindfulness meditation program, has been attended by thousands of employees 97% of employees feel good about how google gives back to the community. Same number say management is honest and ethical


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“Your number-one goal really shouldn’t be money. It should be something you are passionate about, something that has meaning. Then the money will follow. I like to say, ‘Chase the vision, not the money’. That’s why I wrote Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. It shares a lot of the lessons I’ve learned so everyone can make their workplace happier and, in turn, profitable.” http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/01/tony-hsieh-zappos-leadership-managing-interview.html Tony Hsieh, CEO


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When Zappos first started, the main idea was, "Let's sell a lot of shoes and be number one in that market." We did that for the first few years, and then we all sat around one day and asked ourselves, "What do we want to be when we grow up? Do we just want to be about shoes or do we want to be about something more meaningful?” We decided that we wanted the Zappos brand to be about the best customer service. The initial motivation was that we could sell more items beyond shoes, but a funny thing happened. We learned that having a higher purpose, which is not just about making the most profit, is actually good for business. Employees were happier and vendors came to visit more. …//… What ties everything together and really helps us achieve our greater purpose is that Zappos is about delivering happiness, whether it is to customers, employees, or spreading the gospel of the science of happiness I think that it was a combination of a gradual process and after selling LinkExchange, I didn't have to work any more, which forced me to think, "What do I really want to do?" Because it seemed kind of pointless to start another company just to make money. And was there something in your life that initiated this interest or was it a gradual process of coming to this? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-gordhamer/my-interview-with-zappos_b_308852.html Background


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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/10corner.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Badges frequently, instead of promotions infrequently. Gives a sense of progress. Nap room Free to give gift of 50 USD to coworker “…all 20 or so conference rooms were all decorated by different teams.” Log cabin, spaceship, etc. Stimulating environment “…the free lunch we provide for employees is … to get employees to interact with each other.”


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“We also went through a process of asking our employees what our core ten committable values should be, and we developed them through a year long process. We actually hire and fire people based on these core values. As an example, one of our core values is to be humble. If someone applies who is really smart, talented and experienced, even if they could make an immediate impact to our bottom line, if the person is egotistical, we will not hire him or her; it's not even a question.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-gordhamer/my-interview-with-zappos_b_308852.html Zappo’s family core values


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“I think of myself less as a leader, and more of being almost an architect of an environment that enables employees to come up with their own ideas, and where employees can grow the culture and evolve it over time, so it’s not me having a vision of “This is our culture.” Maybe an analogy is, if you think of the employees and culture as plants growing, I’m not trying to be the biggest plant for them to aspire to. I’m more trying to architect the greenhouse where they can all flourish and grow. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/10corner.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Tony Hsieh CEO


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A Zappos office


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Yvon Chouinard, founder: "I never even wanted to be in business“, he says. "But I hang onto Patagonia because it's my resource to do something good. It's a way to demonstrate that corporations can lead examined lives.” http://m.europe.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303513404577352221465986612?mobile=y Today, Chouinard, 70, defines the company's mission in purely eco-driven terms: "to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” http://m.fastcompany.com/1298102/patagonia%E2%80%99s-founder-why-there%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cno-such-thing-sustainability%E2%80%9D Cool facts: No phone No PC Old car…


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It's not just the marketplace Chouinard is affecting—it's the workplace. His flex-time policies allow workers to come and go whenever they want—say, when waves are high at the nearby surf point—as long as deadlines are met. Patagonia was one of the first companies in California to provide on-site, subsidized day care. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201303/liz-welch/the-way-i-work-yvon-chouinard-patagonia.html#ixzz38lrS9tcL Even the chief bean counter, COO and CFO Rose Marcario, seems spiritually fulfilled. In previous jobs at other companies, she says, "I might have looked for ways to defer taxes in the Cayman Islands. Here, we are proud to pay our fair share of taxes. It's a different philosophy. My life is more integrated with my work because I'm trying to stay true to the same values in both.”


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“As a company, we've made a contract with our customers to make clothing as responsibly as possible. That includes asking customers to think twice before they buy anything: “Do you really need it, or do you just want it?” We're producing a series of videos to show customers how to fix things themselves. We're even going to make a little sewing kit. We want people to feel like that jacket is something they're going to have the rest of their lives. And if it does get worn out, send it back to us, and we'll use it for something else. We want to close that loop between consuming and discarding.”


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Since 1985 Patagonia has given 1 percent of revenue (sales, not profit), totaling $41.5 million, to grassroots environmental organizations. Over the years it has convinced 1,400 other companies worldwide to join this "1% for the Planet" initiative. But Chouinard argues this is merely a tithe—he refers to it as an Earth tax. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201303/liz-welch/the-way-i-work-yvon-chouinard-patagonia.html#ixzz38lrS9tcL


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Let’s wrap up…


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Personal take-away: Focus on happiness factors, it’s good for both me and the business Good for workplace happiness: (taken from example companies, research on happiness, and wisdom religions) Focus on the well-being of others, including environment We are social animals. Nurture work relations, teams, company family, and beyond Act with strong meaning/purpose, communicate it Use full potential, the sweet spot of challenge vs skill Cater for a sense of progress, personal growth, and mastery A pleasurable work environment stimulates the brain, eg nature-like, light, colorful, fun Practice mental well-being, e.g. mindfulness meditation, like Google Work-life integration reduce frustration Make room for expressing and celebrating individuality Be transparent and honest. Either way, nowadays it will surface anyway… Bad for workplace happiness: Focus primarily on financials Short-term objectives from shareholders … ? ?


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Zappos ‘Happiness at Work’ model, design factors Functioning at work Self expression: Free to be self, use strengths, creativity Sense of control: influence decisions, feel in control Work relationships: good friends at work, relationship with manager Sense of progress: learning new skills, career prospects Organizational system Job design: Fair pay, job security, achievable job Management system: constructive feedback, trusted by manager, team well managed, organization well managed Social value: customer/client benefits, societal benefits Work environment: Pleasant environment, open organization, good organization to work for Note: Only organizational parts of full model. Taken from Zappos personal survey results. See more at DeliveringHappiness.com


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