It’s no secret, a happy employee is a productive employee. And happy employees equals happy customers.
Sunny Grosso knows this firsthand, she has spent years studying the culture at Zappos and consulting companies on how to make customers and employees happy. She describes happiness as “a range of positive emotions, from joy and pleasure to purpose,” and says it has an impact on everything we do, every interaction we have even how productive we are at work.
The happiness coach, culture expert and thought leader began her journey on a mission to answer one question: How do we create a different workplace? In this Q&A, Ms. Grosso answers that question and gives us a sneak peek into her upcoming session at this year’s Camp Vendini member conference, where she will teach us how to promote a culture of happiness and turn patrons into super fans.
Q. What inspired you to choose this profession?
I followed the formula, graduated from a four year university and got a job… I felt like I achieved “success,” but I was surrounded by gray walls and my co-workers were only happy when they talked about the weekend. I knew it wasn’t for me so I left. I went on to work for a magazine, and a few start ups before a friend gave me the book “Delivering Happiness.”
“I realized I could change the experience of work.”
I was then asked to be one of the founding members of their consulting team just forming, and I said no at first because I didn’t want any more grey walls boxing me in. After thinking about it I decided it was the right move for me. I realized I could change the experience of work. My mission in life became how do we create the kind of workplace where people are inspired, a place where they continue to do their best for the organization.
Q. What is company culture and why is it important?
Culture is a result of the beliefs, values and behaviors that are already there, and it’s a key element to business success. Companies that focus on culture see three times the shareholder returns — that’s 580 percent more and 22% higher profitability.
Q. How do you define happiness?
There are three types of happiness:
- Pleasure is short-term happiness it’s a very fleeting emotion.
- Passion is the next level of happiness. It’s what makes us truly come alive. This is the 2nd longest type.
- Purpose is the longest lasting form of happiness. People achieve this when they follow their passion, feel like they are working toward their goals and have a sense they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.
Q. Why is happiness important for live event venues?
Happiness is a measure of the super engaged. Events are created for people to have an experience, and those experiences are emotionally based, so people will always remember how an event made them feel.
Q. What are some of the best company cultures you’ve ever seen?
Zappos is the quintessential culture story. They recently moved to downtown Las Vegas and asked employees what other perks they wanted to see. And the majority of the employees there said they wanted a doggy daycare. So they got one. Zappos is constantly connecting with their team and making employees co-creators.
“Business and culture work hand in hand.”
Another company culture I find impressive is Airbnb. They have photos of the hosts in the communal spaces. And the meeting rooms represent different countries and are all decorated in the traditional decor of that particular place. It really connects their employees with the different countries the company operates in and to what they’re doing.
Q. What is a culture by default?
“Culture by default” develops on its own when you’re not looking at or thinking about behaviors or attitudes that are becoming the norm. Missing the opportunity to create a place people want to work. Most companies have a culture by default.
A lot of what we do with these organizations is bring it back to the basics and look at the defining elements of their culture… then we look at the ideal culture for their business. Business and culture work hand in hand.
The goal is to inspire employees to be intrinsically motivated. We start on the level of the individual. Then employees can align their personal values to that of the organization. They feel like they are living their mission out to the world. This creates happier people, and a happier world.
Q. How does one create a culture by design?
When you redefine your culture, it’s not cookie cutter; it’s not one size fits all. It really should be representative of the people that are most successful there. Some people will self-select out and that may seem unfortunate, but it’s a sign you’re defining it well. People quickly realize that they are no longer a fit and decide to move on, which is a good thing; if they stayed, it would have a negative impact on the organization and drive everyone else down.
Q. Why is purpose so important?
Purpose driven companies continually outperform the S&P, whether we are in a recession or if the economy is doing well.
Q. What is emotional currency?
We perform proportionately to how we feel. Every time you have an interaction, the exchange registers in your emotional bank, if it’s negative you feel negative, you may withdraw, retaliate or just perform worse.
“If you’re inspired, you do your best work.”
Emotions determine our motivation at work. Happiness also determines how motivated we are at work. If you’re inspired, you do your best work. If we feel good, valued, trusted and like we are contributing to our purpose and working towards our goals in life, we work harder.