Employee Happiness is Really About Four Things
People are really bad at predicting what makes them happy and it turns out that it’s just not as simple as just asking people either. With that said, we know that Tony [Hsieh] was on to something pretty special in Zappos’ early days when he helped launch a culture that would pretty much define how customer service could be done in the online space.
Imagine a company that makes its employees so happy that they feel intrinsically obligated to deliver nothing but the very best customer service and experience?
Novel idea, right?! Happy employees equal happy customers. But it goes so much deeper than that. Although our great traditional and non-traditional benefits go a long way, the things that truly matter in the workplace are the things our employees can feel and deeply care about. Tony, in his book, Delivering Happiness, breaks it down for us:
“Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of your relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself).”
The next time we’re left wondering how can we can improve creation and innovation within our teams, or even engagement and motivation, it’s probably wise that we first spend a little time making sure our formulas for employee happiness are on point.
As we read above, happiness in the workplace is really just about four things. However, it is important to keep in mind that every Zapponian and team is unique, meaning, our definitions for these four things may be very different from one another. The value that say a promotion or pay bump that one person has may be just as valuable as a regular pat on the back or public recognition for another.
In order to be successful, the most important thing we can all do is keep the doors of communication wide open and having a solutions-focused mindset.
If you’re a Lead Link, make sure you’re checking in with your role-holders, identify what’s blocking them and help guide them in removing those constraints (guide being the key word). Be a mentor and help them understand the path to success in their work.
If you’re not a Lead Link, it’s your job to mention your tension – that is, be vocal with what’s wrong or where opportunity lies, and recommend solutions to help fix it, maybe even own the path forward! We can’t fix it if we don’t know it’s a problem.
Here are some thoughts and examples we collected to help you think about the four things a little more in detail.
Authentic empowerment through trust. Clear accountabilities and responsibilities in self-management. Explicit ownership of a project or a piece of work. Meaningful distribution of authority to our team members (delegation). Not micro-managing people. Embracing the belief that “failure is research” and it’s inevitable if we want progress. The belief that every person has a role on the team to fill, that the whole is more important than the sum of its parts.
These are important reminders of what it takes to have people feel and know they have control. If people don’t feel it, they don’t truly have it.
A clear progression plan. Smaller bumps in salary and promotions over shorter periods of time (even though it may end up being the same amount of time in the long-term). Public recognition and accolades. Surprise awards ceremonies. A simple email or video call congratulating someone on a job well done. Giving someone new responsibility because the showed they can perform well.
Shit, even using your monthly WOW bonus (https://engage.zappos.biz/wowed)
There are so many ways we can make people feel like they’re doing good work and that they’re a valuable part of the team. The hardest part is making the time to just do it, which isn’t THAT difficult right?
Connectedness (number and depth of your relationships)
In our new work-from-home culture, this is one of the biggest challenges we have, but it doesn’t need to be.
There are just under 1500 Zapponians that are one call away. One slack, email or text message away. One event, like Coffee Chatz (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a Fungineering Team Building (email@example.com) away.
Give yourself permission to reach out to someone, right now, that you haven’t talked to in a while, or someone that you need to collaborate with, but haven’t yet engaged, or simply to say hi.
The Zappos culture has always been strongest when we break down our silos and work together. So what are you waiting for?
Vision/Meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself)
Have a millennial on your team? Someone from Gen Z? Ask them about what this means to them!
It’s all about Inclusion here. Making people feel like the work they do is important; that’s valuable for both our team and the organization, not to mention the end-user. It’s taking on work, outside our normal accountabilities, that makes us feel engaged, energized and inspired. It’s having the opportunity to bridge what’s important to us in our personal lives with our work. It’s having the opportunity to do more than just sell shoes, clothing or accessories to a customer, it’s the feeling you get when you change their lives and their feelings about our brand. It’s what every good customer service story is born out of. It’s truly being part of something bigger than ourselves.
It's things like Google’s 80/20 Rule that inspires us and helps us become more engaged in our core work, i.e. more happy and productive employees.