The Science of Happiness

Zappos Headquarters [lizzielaroo CC-BY-SA-2.0]


I was reading a book called Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.

It’s about Hsieh’s journey as an entrepreneur, with a particular emphasis on Zappos.


Zappos is the largest online shoe retailer, which is famous for its customer service and focus on company culture.

In the book Hsieh talks about his fascination with the science of happiness, and how it was been applied in Zappos to make employees happier.

Contributors to people’s happiness

One happiness framework he mentions identifies four key contributors to the happiness of people:

  1. Connectedness - the depth and breadth of relationships an individual has.
  2. Perceived control
  3. Perceived progress
  4. Vision / meaning - being part of something bigger than yourself.

Applying the framework

Here are some examples of how these principles have been applied within Zappos:


Zappos has a strong focus on company culture, and encourages employees to mix both within and outside work.

Perceived control

Employees within the Customer Loyalty teams are given a wide option of training they can undertake. After each piece of training is completed they receive a pay rise. The employees choose how much training they want to undertake, and at what pace.

Perceived progress

Rather than promoting employees every 2 years, smaller promotions are given every 6 months instead.

Vision / meaning

Having a higher purpose than just making money (in Zappos’ case, it’s delivering great customer service).