In the previous blog entry, I asked, is  it is feasible for organizations to pay attention to their employees’ happiness and still produce results considering the tremendous pressures most organizations are under to show growth and cost savings in this economic climate.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an online shoe store, says he wouldn’t have it any other way. I have long been a fan of Zappos, ordering most of my shoes from them for several years now.

Zappos has a marvelous return policy: Return any shoes within 12 months and they will pay the postage. No other online shoe store that I know about offers such generous terms.

I order multiple pairs at a time, including the same style in several sizes to make sure that I get the best fit. Those that don’t fit or that I don’t like, I simply send back, with the postage on Zappos.

I often wondered why they had such a liberal return policy. Then I saw Hsieh’s interview with Travis Smiley a few weeks ago and I now know why. Simply put, Hsieh believes in making employees and customers happy and has written a book, Delivering Happiness, describing why and how this philosophy plays out in the way Zappos operates.

As he explained to Tavis Smiley,

Well, I think maybe 50 years ago people and businesses felt like they had to choose between maximizing profits and making customers happy or making employees happy, and I think we’re actually living in a special time where everyone’s hyperconnected….

Information travels so quickly that it’s actually possible to have it all, to make customers happy through customer service, to make employees happy through strong company cultures, and have that actually drive growth and profits….

Most businesses are really just focused on the short-term profits. What we’ve found is actually we’re basically trying to build the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and customer experience.

Hooray for Hsieh and Zappos! Note that for him, this is not an either-or proposition.  He doesn’t feel compelled to choose between employees and profits.  Rather, he sees a synergistic relationship among them.

The question is, though, how “real” is this for the rest of us? In the next blog entry, I will talk about what we do as individuals about our chronic stress. Meanwhile, here are a revised version of the questions I asked in Part I.

  • Are you subject to overwork and chronic stress? If so, do people talk openly about this in your workplace or is it an undiscussable?
  • Do you think it’s possible for your organization to pay more attention to employees’ happiness and still produce results?  If so, how?
  • Do you see a way for you personally to help promote increased employee well-being and happiness within your sphere of influence?

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