Category Archives: Happy companies

Happiness at work at Zappos

I’ve been inspired by Zappos for quite a while now. Not only are they insanely successful, it’s also a genuinely happy workplace, judging from all I’ve read about them.

Here’s a nice little piece from abc news that shows just how happy this company is:

MAN, that’s good to see :o)

Here are my top three reasons to love zappos.

1: They have a culture that promotes happiness at work

Zappos is committed to defining and living a positive, happy culture. Their values are:
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

That’s your recipe for happiness right there.

2: They pay new employees to quit

At the end of your training as a new Zappos employee, the company offers you $2000 if you quit right away. This means that the people who stay are committed to the company and the culture.

Here’s an interview where Bill Taylor (formerly of Fast Company) talks about it.

3: They behave like human beings. Great human beings

The fact that people are happy at work (yes, even the ones answering the phone) means that they give incredibly good customer service.

And often that service goes above and beyond. I dare you to read this story and not shed a tear.

The upshot

Zappos gets it, as do more and more companies. When a business puts its people first (not the customer and not the investors, but the people) you increase happiness, creativity, productivity and profits.

This is not rocket science – and companies like Google, Southwest Airlines, SAS Insititute, Disney, Pixar and many many others will testify to the fact that it works.

So how does your company prioiritize? Are employees at the top of the list – or is that spot taken by profits, growth, customers, or..?

Helping Africa through business

AfricaI recently wrote a blog post asking for information on happy workplaces in Africa.

I got some great tips, showing that even in poor countries it’s still possible to be happy at work.

Now I can finally announce the reason why i ask. A company has been launched that has a simple but breath-taking goal: To eradicate poverty in Africa through business.

The company is called C4, and the idea is based on micro-financing ala Grameen Bank – with a focus on helping African businesses.

The idea is this:

  1. People in rich countries can create an account with C4 and put money into it.
  2. Africans can create accounts asking for investments.
  3. C4 account holders can decide which projects to invest in.

Note that you’re not giving the money as aid – you’re investing in a number of projects and can expect to get your money back with interest.

The advantages are clear:

  • You get direct influence over which projects you support.
  • Instead of giving aid, we’re helping people help themselves.

I know the people behind this, and I know their commitment, skill and energy will carry them on to great results. I have also been giving them a hand here and there :o)

Now they’re looking for the first group of people to start test-driving the site. They’re looking for 2,015 people to be specific (why that number? See if you can figure it out :o)

I urge you to sign up for this. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of something fun, that has the potential to make the world a better place.

I will certainly be participating, with a specific focus on spreading happiness at work in African businesses.

Happy at work at Nixon McInnes

GreenAfter I wrote on my blog that I’m a huge fan of Ricardo Semler, I got an email from another avowed fan, namely Tom Nixon who is a director at Nixon McInnes a web design agency in Brighton, England.

He’s been telling me a little about how they run things, and here are som highlights:

Everyone sets their own working hours
This works really well for us. We had an almost tearful moment at our ‘review of the year’ meeting before xmas when a relatively new member of staff said that her highlight of the year was being able to see her kids in their school nativity play, which had been possible for the first time this year because of our flexible working arrangements.

Open book accounting
Everyone knows what everyone else earns, and I also like to show staff our bank statements now and again so they get a feel for what comes in and goes out. Sometimes we have awkward conversations about pay because salaries are public, but it’s so much better getting it all out in the open – people usually find out eventually anyway.

Voting on key issues
We had a chance to move into some really nice offices about a year ago, but the team voted against it in the end because it was just too expensive. We were all a bit bummed by not getting to work in the new place but because everyone had a say in it there was no

Their company culture also includes things like “People wear the clothes that they feel are appropriate” and “We believe that businesses need not be only about money.”

YES! Way to go! It’s all very Semler-ish and perfectly in tune with my previous posts on why secret salaries are a bad idea and the cult of overwork.

I like the openness and participation that this encourages and the fact that these are not just internal policies, but are mentioned right on the website. Kudos!

PS. They’re hiring!