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LA JOLLA, CALIF.— Entrepreneur and neuroscientist Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., thinks organizations should use the neuroscience behind the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin—the chemical foundation that helps build trust and closeness—to improve business performance.
Organizations with high levels of trust have happier, healthier employees, he said during his keynote address at the 2014 HRPS Global Conference. He pointed to online retailer Zappos.com as a prime example of an organization where trusting employees, and their subsequent empowerment, has been a significant factor in the company’s success. Employees there use their own judgment on the job, even if it means sending flowers to an unhappy customer or spending hours on a customer service call.
Zak, an economics professor and founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University, has developed a management tool—the Ofactor—to help organizations build trust among their employees and improve their bottom lines in the process. The Ofactor comprises eight trust-boosting management-policy categories that empower employees while at the same time holding them accountable for their decisions. The categories include:
Zak is the author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity (Dutton, 2012) and editor of Moral Markets: The Critical Role of values in the Economy (Princeton University Press, 2008).
Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.
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