What employee wellbeing means to me: Tony Hsieh

The Zappos CEO is certainly not afraid of going against the grain when it comes to employee wellbeing. Ahead of his appearance at our next debate on April 23rd, we get the thinking behind his controversial holacracy model…

In Tony’s own words, the vision is for: "Zappos to function more like a city and less like a top-down bureaucratic organization. Look at companies that existed 50 years ago in the Fortune 500 - most don’t exist today. Companies tend to die and cities don’t." As far as company restructures go, it’s safe to say that it’s a fairly controversial one. So, how will this change impact the health and wellness of the Zappos workforce?

Hello Tony. How do you achieve a work/life balance and still manage to keep a track of everything going on at Zappos?

Rather than focus on work/life balance or work/life separation, I try to focus on work/life integration. When your co-workers also end up being your friends, and the work you do is also work you're passionate about, then it's not so much about work vs. life - it's just life.

Read: What employee wellbeing means to me - Richard Branson

Has your attitude towards employee wellbeing changed over the years?

Not really - we've always put a lot of emphasis on the wellbeing of our employees. For example, we have a life coach to help employees figure out and meet life goals and we offer some amazing health benefits.

What are you striving to achieve in your own company culture?

Our goal is for employees to be happy, productive and constantly growing in a long-term sustainable way. We want employees to have autonomy, mastery and purpose. We want employees to be passionate about what they're working on. We want co-workers to not just be co-workers, but true meaningful friendship.

What do you view as the biggest issue that needs addressing in the workplace?

At Zappos, we're currently undergoing a shift from a typical hierarchical "command and control" structure to one that is self-managed and self-organizing, which requires employees to be more entrepreneurially-minded and be more comfortable with ambiguity. This is not an easy shift for some employees.

Read: What employee wellbeing means to me - Jim Clifton

What advice would you give to a start-up trying to create a healthy and positive culture for their employees?

Figure out the personal values of the founders and influencers in the start-up, and then create the corporate values based on those personal values. Then moving forward, hire people whose personal values match the corporate values.


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