Lim, Well & Schultz on HAPPINESS in the Workplace at #SXSW Interactive

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One of the great things about South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive is that you tend to get panels about topics you wouldn’t find in other conferences of its ilk. Given that I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on the topic of happiness — in my personal life as well as my professional life I couldn’t resist going to the HAPPINESS panel with Jenn Lim from Delivering Happiness, Brian Welle from Google and Voodoo founder Chris Shultz.

Delivering Happiness started as a book by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, one which I’ve read personally three times, an integral focus of it is on their commitment to superior customer service and how that transformed their business. Since its launch, it has been translated into 20 languages and has moved into a movement. Jenn cites three areas: company, community and cities, such as what Tony and others are doing to transform downtown Las Vegas.

Most of the discussion eventually led to higher purpose and the need for humans to serve a higher purpose beyond themselves. Brian says that at Google they ask not what makes employees happy today, but years from now, the more sustainable happiness? They conducted an experiment at Google where they provided their employees with food and then a choice of plate sizes. Initially, employees chose the larger plate but used research to show them why taking a smaller plate was better for them and for the company. Around money and savings, they learned that giving employees higher anchors as a savings goal resulted in them saving more over the long haul.

There’s a link between higher productivity and happiness said Brian. He added, “I love data and the more data you have, the better you can predict, measure and create things that will keep employees invested in your company.”

Chris Shultz talked about positive emotion, engagement and relationships as essential components to achieving happiness and that there must be “meaning.” Without meaning, people won’t be happy. They need to understand why we are ‘doing this,’ and what is their mission. They need to see accomplishments over time and how and where they’re actually making a difference to the company and the world.

Other takeaways from the panel from some of their slides below:


Photos by Renee Blodgett. For more on Austin Festivals, including SXSW, go here.

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