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The secrets to happiness at work.

Being happy at work is best for all involved; the employees and the boss. Check out these statistics that happy employees deliver: 

33% higher profitability (Gallup)

43% more productivity (Hay Group)

37% higher sales (Shawn Achor)

300% more innovation (HBR)

51% lower turnover (Gallup)

50% less safety incidents (Babcock Marine Clyde)

66% decrease in sick leave (Forbes)

125% less burnout (HBR)

It’s no surprise that the 20 employees of Delivering Happiness at Work (DHW) compiled this list and toss around the data any chance they get. The startup brainchild of Zappos’ Tony Hsieh and business partner Jenn Lim emerged after the publication of Delivering Happiness, a book that waxes on the benefits of value-based management and work, life balance.

To drive the point home, the consulting firm’s even set up a return-on-investment calculator that allows any company to determine how much malcontent could cost them based on the number of employees on staff. So far, over 200 companies have signed up, and DHW workshops have garnered rave reviews from clients as diverse as HP, former Lost producer Ra’uf Glasgow, and RealTruck.

“A lot of people think [happiness] is fluffy,” Sunny Grosso, DHW culture and brand boss admits, but it's what built Zappos into a $2 billion business.

With that in mind, Fast Company asked Grosso for a peek inside DHW’s happy hive. 

Here are a few of their best practices: 

Draw Your Own Culture Target

The premise is simple: Draw a bull’s-eye with three concentric rings. The center spot is the “me.” Grosso explains that this represents, “The idea that happiness at work and in life starts with you.” The next circle is “we,” which could be your family, friends, and coworkers. The outer ring is for community, or all the people you affect in your job such as partners and vendors.

By putting yourself in the middle, Grosso says, you begin to see how much your own personal values influence those around you. Aligning those things that are most important to you with your “we” and “community,” will make your work more fulfilling, your partnerships stronger, and your impact on the world greater, she asserts.

Birds of a Cultural Feather...

Every person on the DHW staff has a poster of the organization’s 10 core values up on their wall. Grosso even has a small copy stuck to the back of her phone. Referring to a speech made by Delivering Happiness CEO Jenn Lim, Grosso says, “Our core values are the code, the DNA,” that allows the team to fly together as seamlessly as a flock of geese in formation.

And if you're curious, here are DHW's 10 core values: 

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

Bring Your Weird Self to Work

That’s not to say that everyone needs to share the exact same personal values in order for the organization’s values to unite the team and strengthen the business. DHW team members are encouraged to bring their whole self to work, with all the attendant weirdness that may involve.

“I used to do gymnastics,” recalls Grosso, so the time she spontaneously did a handstand at work sparked a colleague to begin showing off his facility with contortions. “Our work environment allows you to be you more,” she contends, and is less about work/life balance and more about how work mixes with life.

Scale Individual Happiness to Strengthen the Organization

It may sound like a simple recipe for a small startup, but Grosso points out that Zappos does the same with some 2,000 employees who are an eclectic bunch. Bringing your weird self to work is okay if you can exist--happily--within the company’s 10 core values.

Grosso says that Zappos’ IT department is an example of a team that has a different micro-culture within the parent company. “They are less about sharing and interacting and having Jello shots,” she notes, laughing, “But they still adhere to the core values. Some [values] are stronger than others, but that’s okay.”

Happier Collaboration Through Video Conferencing

Though small, the DHW team is spread across several offices in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Atlanta, and across three business units (including the DH clothing line and community-focused efforts) so collaboration doesn’t happen as seamlessly as it would in one open office. Nonetheless, Grosso says they make a “huge effort” to bring everyone together via video conference once a week. In addition to quarterly in-person meetings, every Friday at 11 a.m., everyone on staff is required to stop what they are doing and join the call, no excuses. “Connection is one of the pieces of the science of happiness that we teach companies, so it’s something we take very seriously,” she says.

To energize the assembled crew, the call starts with something fun such as Grosso or Lim sharing photos of their travels to speaking engagements or workshops. This week for instance, Grosso proudly shared a pic she took of a billboard in the Gates Foundation’s offices that asked, “Does happiness matter at work?” in anticipation of a presentation she was doing there. The visuals, she contends, make more of an impact than reciting a laundry list of the week’s appointments.

Talk to the CEO

The video conferences also have an “Ask Jenn” component in which the entire team has the opportunity to quiz Lim about anything from how many hours she put in on a given week to which magazine’s cover she’d like to grace. Questions are emailed in advance from each team member. “It’s important to make sure people have a connection to her because she’s on the road so much,” says Grosso.

The Path to Happiness is Paved With (Well-Placed) Praise and More Cowbell

Then the conversation moves to “snout outs” which Grosso likens to the way a dog pushes its nose out of a car window. The premise again is to share accomplishments. “Did someone impress you this week?” or “Did you appreciate the way someone collaborated?” are just some of the items thrown out for praise.

And just to add a little extra encouragement for those who don’t like to toot horns, good ideas are celebrated with ringing of cowbells.

Use Constructive Honesty

Not every person or idea is a good fit at any company and DHW is no exception. Grosso admits that even after putting some employees through the rigor of interviewing, they just weren’t right for the team once they were hired. Like the founders of Asana, Grosso credits the company’s tenet of extreme transparency to weed out potential trouble.

She also cites the research of Barbara Frederickson at the University of North Carolina that illustrates how a ratio of three positive emotions to one negative is minimum optimum for high functioning teams. So if someone or some initiative isn’t working out, Grosso says the team will share their thoughts in a positive way.

Collaborate Right Now

The final component of the conference is to work on something together right away. Usually there are four items that require immediate attention and the team brainstorms solutions onto a whiteboard. Grosso says that allows the meeting to end on a note of inspiration and connects the team (once again) to the higher purpose of the organization.

(By Lydia Dishman, via Fast Company

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