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Sherry Hess
Sherry Hess
Sherry is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise.

The New Company Culture—Play vs. Pay

July 19th, 2010 by Sherry Hess

Well, another IMS has come and gone, and once again we survived the chaos of getting ready and then pulled off a fantastic show. While wandering the show floor and perusing other exhibitors’ booths, I couldn’t help but notice a clear divide between booth personnel who looked happy and excited and those who looked a bit disconnected, and yes, even bored. Then after I returned to the office I coincidentally viewed two interesting videos, one on YouTube and one on 60 Minutes –thank you Mom & Dad for making me watch this over the years- that gave me one possible answer.

The first clip on YouTube was from Innovation Daily: RSA Animate — Drive: Dan Pink and the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. A very clever animated cartoon presentation that was indeed surprising, it discussed irrefutable evidence that workers are motivated not, as you would think, by more money or pay, but instead by the sheer pleasure of creating or working on something meaningful that receives positive feedback. The typical motivation scheme within organizations is to reward performance with a monetary incentive. Tests have found that once cognitive skill/ conceptual creative thinking comes into play, a larger reward led to poorer performance! Studies have found that if you pay people enough so that money is not an issue, three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction: autonomy or desire to be self-directed, mastery—the urge to get better at stuff, and sense of purpose.

So why are there people in the world who have jobs and get paid, but do the same thing during their limited discretionary time for free? Examples: Linux, Apache, Wikipedia. More and more corporations are operating with a transcendent purpose, and that makes coming to work better for employees, and also attracts more talented workers. Conversely, when profit motive separates from incentive motive, bad things happen. Not only bad ethics, but bad products and services, uninspiring place to work, people don’t do great things. Companies that are flourishing today are animated by a sense of purpose.

Interesting. Hmm. Could that be why some folks at IMS were busy, excited, smiling and engaged with others while some were disengaged, mopey even, and unhappy looking? Is it the difference between a job/paycheck and a job/passion?

Then, a couple days later, I watched 60 Minutes, which did a segment on the online shoe company, Zappos. (Believe it or not, I have yet to purchase shoes on this site…for those who know me, I like shoes 🙂 so this doesn’t compute.) I digress. Anyway, the theme of the segment was that Zappos is an unusual company with an unusual business model—they are constantly trying to find ways to improve on employee happiness, fully believing that employee happiness leads to customer happiness and investor/shareholder happiness.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO, has even written a book: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Zappos believes that focusing on company culture will enable them to provide great service, which will lead to financial success down the road. Clearly, Zappos has bought into, and successfully implemented, the same concepts outlined in Dan Pink’s presentation: a company culture focused on employee happiness results in a company that has passion and purpose, and that will ultimately lead to profits.

Both of these video segments, coupled with my own exhausting but highly enjoyable experience at IMS, led me to conclude there is indeed a lot to be said for job happiness. And once again for those who know me or have read my blogs in the past, I’ve found a company and job that delivers happiness to me and hopefully I deliver some of it back! Now, let me log in to to celebrate!

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