“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” —Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
This summer, I worked with the Ashland Food Co-op on its groundbreaking Happiness@Work project—because they DIDN’T forget about the importance of a positive culture when things seemed to be going astray. The project was born out of tension between departments and between managers and their employees as well as a volatile debate around whether or not to unionize. Capiche was selected for this project by the Co-op’s Happiness@Work Team, which comprises board members, the general manager and representatives from the newly formed Employee Alliance.
Co-op General Manager Emile Amarotico says, “The positive impact this work has had on employee engagement in implementing solutions they’ve designed can’t help but permeate through fellow employees within the organization. It’s great that we’re making strides toward a happy workplace and have solutions being designed and implemented, but people can’t forget that the results also will include more productivity, happier customers and an atmosphere with a vibe that more people want to participate in.”
Known for its focus on happiness at work, Capiche applies the scientific research on happiness to real-world applications. “It’s fun to see where the theory starts to impact the actual workings, the mechanics of the organization,” Emile says.
Along with trusted colleague John Bowling of Sustainable Leadership Consultants, Capiche started with an organizational assessment from Happiness Works and then created opportunities for employees at all levels to provide suggestions using an appreciative inquiry process. We gathered information about what employees valued most about their work at the Co-op and discovered areas that offered opportunities for improvement. Key topics that emerged were communication and cooperation, learning and development and renewal and stress management.
With this information, the Happiness@Work Team empowered three volunteer Solutions Teams (comingling managers and employees from various departments) to create and develop solutions around these key topics with the vision of making the Co-op a better place to work. These groups met for five months and, in the process of focusing on growth opportunities, also developed strong cross-department and cross-employment–level relationships. This promoted greater understanding and empathy among all involved.
With support from the Board of Directors and management team, these solutions are in the process of being implemented. This process is fully aligned with the Co-op’s mission and vision, which includes “joyfully working together, providing a workplace that fosters opportunities for participation, empowerment and growth in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.”
Emile adds, “I would recommend Capiche to any organization that is truly committed to engaging with the nerve system of their organization with the intention of creating positive change.”
Happiness and wellbeing at work are possible wherever people are clear about and honor their values, vision and mission. Employee and customer loyalty, creativity, innovation, teamwork and ultimately positive business results follow employee happiness and engagement.
Please share your success stories or let me know if you would like to talk about how to align your mission with your culture to bring more happiness and business success to your workplace.