In this guest post from Jessica Dahlstrum, she discusses Tony Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness.
Running a company like a city is the premise upon which our CEO, Tony Hsieh, adopted the self-governing practice of Holacracy for Zappos in 2013. Research showed him that companies tend to become less productive and innovative over time as they increase in size.
Open Space meeting: a purpose-driven meeting framework. It has stood the test of time—30 years and counting, as a matter of fact. Yet, how much do you know about it?
In 2014, a much-vaunted app was released; the creators claimed this app would be a one-stop shop for personal health. Users could track calories consumed, blood alcohol content, respiratory rate, and vitamin intake; they could also look for information on ways to improve health, and advice on symptoms they were suffering. The app’s creators claimed that this was the future of personal healthcare, and the app did much of what it claimed, with a single glaring exception.
From the 1870s mineral excavations comes the popular phrase, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” From the 2000s U.S. corporate offices’ open-space trend comes the notion, “There’s gold in them thar open floor plans.” Gold, as in golden opportunities for efficiency, transparency, inclusivity, accessibility and increased engagement, just to name a few.
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Great culture leads to employee happiness. The same way a toxic culture leads to unhappiness. Happy employees means higher engagement, profitability, and low turnover.
Our culture would not be what is it today without the people, past and present. We are all protectors and cultivators of the Zappos Culture; it's what makes it unique and something that changes every day.
I love that I get to be me all day. The culture encourages you to be the same person you are at work as you are at home. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not, which makes Zappos a comfortable place to be.
Every company has a unique culture that's all their own. Just like every person has their own personality, every company has their own culture. Building a culture is a special process that can't be taken lightly. It's the responsibility of every employee to represent and foster culture.
Work can be fun! We have 2 annual parties at Zappos. Our Vendor Party where we invite all of our brands to thank them and celebrate our partnership. And, our employee holiday party. Past epic party themes have ranged from Mardi Gras and old-school hip-hop to a Hawaiian luau at a waterpark. Each has had its own twists and tricks to surprise and delight partygoers. This year, we invited our vendors to run away with us to the “Untamed Circus."
Your culture doesn't stay the same, it will continue to evolve. Having a defined set of values will serve as your guide to continue your culture's growth and evolution in a positive direction.
Not Always Measured
A strong culture means lower employee burnout and therefore, lower turnover. It leads to higher employee engagement and higher profitability. But really, companies should focus on their culture because it matters. Because it's just the right thing to do. To quote Tony Hsieh, "Just because you can’t measure the ROI of something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. What’s the ROI on hugging your mom?"
Companies and employees worry about work-life separation or work-life balance. But why? Wouldn't you rather be a company where your employees easily combine their full self into everything they do? Wouldn't you rather work for a company whose focus on culture allows your job to integrate with your life? It shouldn't be a struggle to find a balance between life and work where you are truly fulfilled and happy.
Your vendors have the same objective as you: to sell their product, be successful in their work, and maybe have some fun while doing it. Something unique that Zappos does is allow brand representatives access to all the same sales and inventory information on their products that Zappos has. By working as a team, by partnering, you are setting the stage for success!