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Why We Think Culture is Important (And You Should, Too!)

The culture of happiness is upon us, and strangely enough, it started with shoes.

Zappos to be exact. After experimenting in his own business with terms such as “Create fun and a little weirdness”, Tony Hsieh, the CEO, wrote a book about his life, core beliefs, and business success and called in “Delivering Happiness” (2010).

His co-conspirator and CHO (Chief Happiness Officer), Jenn Lim, travels the world and lectures about the findings from this social experiment at Zappos.

A Gallup poll tells the story: “Majority of U.S. Employees not engaged despite gains in 2014”. In other words, only 31.5% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014. Only a third!

That is what Lim is attempting to change.

“There’s a caveat here, that when we say happiness, it’s not just rainbows and unicorns,” Lim says. Delivering happiness to your employees is not a simple thing to do. For starters, how do you measure happiness? It’s abstract and subjective. What makes one happy (bigger pay check), is not what makes another happy (great work environment). Then there are those who don’t believe in change and those who say “no” to everything that might disrupt the work flow.

But what you can measure is increased employee engagement, retention, productivity and profits. And the research behind it shows she is right. Zappos shows she is right when it was one of the best 25 companies to work for.

The size of the company does not matter, says Lim. Principles of work-base happiness are universal and can be applied to the tiniest startup same as a dominant brand.

“Consumers today are more educated, so there has to be a more personal, emotional connection,” Lim explains.

Here are some of the things included in the culture of happiness

  • A sense of purpose, beyond profit margins.
  • An environment that allows employees to be their authentic selves.
  • Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company, not just a department.
  • Focus on company culture should be your number one priority.
  • Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business.
  • Help employees grow personally and professionally.
  • Pay brand new employees $2,000 to quit.

If workers are happy in their roles, customers will hear it on the other end of the phone or email. “You can’t artificially build that,” says Lim.

Many companies have embraced their core values, put them in the employee’s hand book and plaster them all over the break room. Only a few companies are actually practicing what they preach, especially when it comes to hiring and firing.

“The great thing about happiness is you don’t have to wait for someone to let you be happy,” says Lim. Amen.