One of his goals is to “increase the number of serendipitous interactions of our staff, inside and outside the firm”. At Zappos, dating among employees is encouraged, as is “work-life integration, because if you are going to spend eight or ten hours a day on something, it might as well be with people you like.” In the end, “it is going to be the companies that make their employees happiest that will attract the best people,” says Mr Hsieh, picking up a theme from his best-selling book, “Delivering Happiness”.
This philosophy is taking hold in many of the world’s leading firms as they engage in an increasingly fierce war for talent. This is being fought on at least three fronts, each of which requires a somewhat different strategy. The first involves trying to hire the very best people in their field—because they are thought to be potentially far more productive than the merely competent. As Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, recently put it, an exceptional employee is “not just a little better than someone who is pretty good; they are 100 times better”. Second, some skills are much more sought after than others. For instance, “chemistry graduates are now getting some of the best starting salaries among all graduates,” says Andrew Liveris, the boss of Dow Chemical. In emerging markets, the rapid pace of economic growth is creating across-the-board shortages of people with outstanding skills, from accountants to pilots. That makes it as hard to hold on to workers as to hire them in the first place.
When people are asked to rate the best companies, they increasingly favour those that let them bring their pets to work or spend more time working from home,”
Google’s decision to allow its staff to spend 20% of their paid-for time to work on whatever they want was controversial at first, but has started to spread.
“How could you take your scarcest, most valuable employees and free them to do what they like? I thought they were nuts. But I was nuts. They were smart,” says Scott Cook, the boss of Intuit, which has enjoyed a surge in performance since he introduced something similar.
“The big losers from a lifestyle perspective are those who have unlimited opportunity,” says Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, which trains people to understand the ebbs and flows of their energy at work and manage them better. The advice to get more sleep usually goes down well; after that it gets harder, he admits. Among other things, he teaches employees to take a break after 90 minutes’ work, because effectiveness declines rapidly after that.
In the first year 2,000 Googlers went through a course called “Managing Your Energy for Your Sustained Performance”, many of them senior executives who then wanted their teams to attend the course too.
Corporate culture on HR is moving forward with the latest findings on science and also with human center.