Tony Hsieh’s employee happiness framework

I’ve just finished the new book by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and it’s given me so much food for thought I wanted to share some of it with you and encourage you to read the book as well.

At first blush, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose appears to be a book about Tony and Zappos. But it’s really a book about what it means to love what you do and build an organization filled with employees who love their work, too. It’s a book that takes the ideas of employee retention and motivation, stands them on their heads, and then explores what real happiness at work is all about.

Tony Hsieh’s Happiness Framework

Tony says there are four primary threads that together weave a “happiness framework.” This framework plays a role in the kind of human resources approaches and decisions that have made Zappos deservedly famous, so it’s not one to dismiss quickly and it comes from his rather serious study of happiness research (aka positive psychology).

  1. Perceived control, having some say in your work and advancement.
  2. Perceived progress, an ongoing sense of career and job progress.
  3. Connectedness, the number and depth of your relationships at work (Tony references studies that positively correlate the number of real friends at work with the degree of employee engagement).
  4. Vision/meaning, being part of something bigger than yourself (and in business terms, “bigger” meaning something beyond money, profits and market position).

I’ve been intrigued by the book because so much of the work I do with organizations is about fostering connectedness while also helping colleagues disagree robustly — connection and conflict aren’t mutually exclusive and I’ve said for years that they’re intimately related. Conflict isn’t a sign of distress in an organization; quite the contrary. It’s the way colleagues conflict that matters and how much of a connection they’ve fostered outside (and before) their debate.

It’s a good read. And if you travel a lot, get the audio edition, as Tony narrates it and there’s a wonderful conversation between Tony and Warren Buffett in a supplement at the end of only the audio edition.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.