Category Archives: Happy companies

Show investors that you care about more than just profits

I found this researching my next book, Leading with Happiness.

At the 2008 Southwest Airlines Shareholders’ Meeting, CEO Gary Kelly ended his presentation with this wonderful story.

February the 27th we had flight number 1218 preparing for departure from Dallas to Las Vegas via Austin and as the customers were taking their seats our Dallas flight attendant Robin Hopkins was approached by a customer who I’ll refer to as Janice.

Janice was asking for help with her cellphone and she didn’t know how to turn it off. Robin assisted Janice but asked if she was okay because Robin can tell that she had been crying. Janice answered that she was on her way to Las Vegas to identify her only son at the medical examiner’s office.

Upon hearing this Robin informed the two other flight attendants Melissa Smith and Lisa Christian as to what was going on and our flight attendants comforted Janice.

Melissa and Lisa handled the entire flight from Austin to Las Vegas while Robin sat with Janice and she learned about her son and she was there to provide comfort. They talked for the rest of the flight.
When they landed in Las Vegas Candace Robinson and Brandy Fuller who are Las Vegas in-flight supervisors met Janice at the gate and they took over. Brandy handled all of her immediate needs while Candace went on to get her own car to drive Janice. Candace was also able to secure a hotel room next to the funeral home.

There was no one there for Janice except for Southwest Airlines people and this is just one powerful example of our people in action and it happens hundreds of times every single day and most of which we never hear about. But they don’t do it for the recognition, they don’t do it for the money. They do it because they care and at Southwest Airlines we are blessed to find and to hire and to keep people who care.

I don’t know if you can teach people how to care but you can’t encourage it you can support it and when you know about it you can certainly recognize it.

This is amazing story and I love the fact that the CEO told it at the shareholders’ meeting. This clearly shows investors where Southwest’s priorities are and that they can expect the company to continue to treat its employees and customers well.

My meeting with the Danish healthcare system

Danish hospital wear - stylish AND flattering :)

Yesterday I went in for a very minor planned operation at Bispebjerg Hospital close to where we Iive here in Copenhagen.

So here are 3 reflections on my first major meeting with the Danish healthcare system since I was a kid.

1: The people were awesome

Every single person I met was friendly, cheerful and competent. I felt seen and genuinely cared for the whole time. So many people welcomed me to the hospital. Many said “We’re going to take good care of you,” which I felt was a wonderful touch.

All staff also went out of their way to keep me informed at all times and took time to answer all my questions. Everything they did was explained clearly and with great empathy.

They all seemed very happy at work and were really nice and friendly around each other as well. This is important, because some research indicates that happy hospitals have better patient outcomes.

2: The whole process was highly efficient

The surgery went just perfectly and I was in and out in a few hours, just as scheduled.

It was clear that the different teams and wards had spent a lot of time optimizing the processes and figuring out the best ways to share information between them and how to optimally use the available resources.

These people clearly care about doing their jobs well and efficiently.

3: This is for everyone

I’m wealthy. If I didn’t trust the public hospitals in Denmark, I could easily afford treatment at a private hospital somewhere.

So my main reflection is that this level of care is available for free to every single Dane, regardless of income or social status. This is one of the things that make me proud of my country.

My only worry is that I’ll have to take it easy on the training for a while –  just when the CrossFit Open is coming up. Dammit :)

Is your company’s purpose this clear and inspiring?

Last month I gave a keynote at Danish pharmaceutical company Xellia. While waiting in their lobby, I noticed the sign above, carrying probably the simplest and most inspiring company purpose I’ve ever seen.

As you may know, one of the biggest current medical crises is the increasing risk of infection by multi-resistant bacteria, that are immune to traditional antibiotics.

Xellia produces an antibiotic that is still effective against multi-resistant bacteria. Their research and products directly saves lives all over the world and we are proud to have them as a client.

After the keynote, they sent us this feedback:

“Your speech clearly showed why happiness at work is so important and helped us focus on it and maintain it in our workplace. You gave our entire team a huge and much-needed boost – thank you!”

– Morten Rank, People Manager, Chemical Laboratory, Xellia Pharmaceuticals

A simple (and free) way to let employees share hobbies and passions

Here’s another great and simple tool for creating better coworker relationships from our Czech Woohoo inc Partner Michal Srajer.

In this video he describes how he used Google Groups to help employees at IT company Avast connect around shared hobbies and passions.

This fosters better workplace relationships, cross-team collaboration and better teamwork.

Related posts

How to create happiness at work with 8 Golden Retriever puppies

We are always looking for cool new ways to create happiness at work, and one of our clients just came up with one that is not only fun but without a doubt the cutest we’ve seen so far.

We got this email from Mikkel from Advice, one of our clients in Denmark:

I work at Advice – a communications company with 120 employees. We recently booked a keynote with Arlette from Woohoo Inc. which gave us a lot of inspiration to increase happiness at work with big and small initiatives throughout the company.

One coworker was particularly inspired by the idea of doing random acts of workplace kindness, so she persuaded her team leader to let her arrange a happiness café one regular grey October afternoon.

Here, coworkers found 8 cute Golden Retriever puppies as well as coffee and a huge cake buffet. Everyone got a chance to pet and play with one of the cute little furballs and the event was “the talk of the town” all over the company.

What a cool and fun idea. Here are some more photos to give you a sense of the event:

Would this work in your workplace? Have you ever done something similar? How do you create happiness at work?

Write a comment and share your best ideas.

Freedom at work = happiness at work

“You’d be amazed what happens once people are empowered to make decisions.”

Here’s a great article from CNN on how Denmark’s happiest workplace became so happy: they gave their employees freedom and responsibility.

This is the moment they won first place in the Danish Great Place to Work ranking:

5 lessons you can learn from Denmark’s happiest call center

Call centers are notoriously tough workplaces.

But City Call Center in Copenhagen is different. Very different. They were recently named one of Denmark’s best workplaces in the Great Place to Work Survey and people love working here.

In this interview, their founder and CEO Pouline Mangaard explains how she has created the (nearly) impossible: A happy call center.

 Her ideas are simple, effective and are relevant in any kind of workplace.

Why workplaces should let employees choose their own manager

If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, you will never be happy at work. But how can a workplace ensure that every employee has the right manager – someone they trust, like, respect and communicate well with?

London-based training company Happy have come up with a radical but simple solution: Let every employee pick their own manager.

That way, anyone who is not happy with their boss can simply pick a new one. Incidentally, bad bosses quickly find themselves without employees, eliminating that particular problem.

In this inspiring speech their founder Henry Stewart shares how they do it along with two other great practices that have made Happy so… happy :)

Podcast with Søren Lockwood – a (very happy) financial CEO

Michal Srajer, one of our Partners in Prague, is currently travelling the world and interviewing many different people for his podcast about happiness at work. His first interview was with me and you can hear it here.

His second podcast features Søren Lockwood, the CEO of SEB Pension in Denmark, who took his company of 300 serious financial professionals in dark suits through a transformation that has resulted in happier employees, lower absenteeism, happier customers and better results.

You can hear the podcast here:

Søren Lockwood also spoke at our conference this year in Copenhagen, where examined the classic question of whether  you can prove that happiness at work is good for the bottom line. He gave the best answer EVER: