The ever growing and constant exposure of company cultures like Google, Facebook and Square have reset the work expectations of the emerging generations that are pouring into the workplace. Slides, free food, nap rooms, beer carts and no vacation policy are becoming staple work perks for job-seeking Millennials. There’s no other business that gets company culture like the online retailer, Zappps.
After hearing a recent interview between Success Magazine’s Darren Hardy and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, I was compelled to revisit Tony’s book Delivering Happiness, A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose (so worth a read) to boil down what Zappos is doing right today to attract tomorrow’s talent.
For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.
Zappos’ 11 Company Culture Aspects That Win Over Millennials
1) Coaching. Happy employees are more productive. Zappos has a full-time life coach that is available to anyone in the company to help them set and achieve personal or professional goals (ex: finance, weight loss, promotions, new skills, etc.).
2) Collisions. Zappos encourages employees to work remotely but at coffee shops or co-working spaces to increase people collisions (serendipitous connections that foster creativity). Zappos designed their facility with a central plaza and only 1-2 exits to increase employee collisions. Also, they encourage employees to get out the office and contribute to things outside the office and conference rooms.
3) Community. Zappos recently moved their headquarters from a Las Vegas suburb to the former city hall in downtown Las Vegas. Zappos intentionally chose the location in an effort to revitalize the community which was once very community focused, entrepreneurial and creative. A primary priority for Zappos is to positively impact the community.
4) Autonomy. Zappos has been called The Entrepreneur Disneyland. Zappos employees are empowered to do whatever they want to wow the customer. There are no phone scripts or time limits. They want their reps true personalities to shine. Also, Zappos Twitter policy is: just be real, and use your best judgment.
5) Development. Zappos offers hundreds of books available for free in their lobby. Employees get paid extra for reading and presenting their learnings. They also offer classes to go over some of the more popular books. Zappos provides all the training and mentorship necessary so that any employee has the opportunity to become a senior leader within 5-7 years. They offer a “skill set” system that allows employes to get certified and receive a pay bump with each new skill set acquired.
6) Fun. Pass through different Zappos departments and you may find make-shift bowling alleys, employees dressed as pirates, employees karaokeing, nap rooms, a petting zoo, hot dog socials or a llama. One of Zappos core values is “Create fun and a little weirdness."
7) Right Team. Building and maintaining the culture you want starts with the hiring process. Zappos offers everyone $2,000 to quit after taking the first week of training and it’s a standing offer until the end of the fourth week of training. This ensures people are there for more than a paycheck. Less than 1% take the offer.
8) Clear Mission. Zappos goal is for their employees to think of their work not as a job or career, but as a calling. Zappos vision has a higher purpose (above money and being first in the marketplace) focused on: Clothes (shoes) / Customer Service / Culture / Community. In 1999, their mission was to sell shoes. 4 years later, they decided to be about the best customer service. Then company culture became a business strategy with success being a natural byproduct. And finally, community (as highlighted above) has become an integral part of their mission.
9) Work/Life Integration. When people dread going to work, it’s because they know they are leaving a piece of themselves at home. Zappos encourages employees to bring their true self and passions to work. "At the end of the day it’s just life.” ~Tony Hsieh. Most Zappos employees consider their peers true friends and will hang out with other employees outside of work. Favors and productivity go up when working among friends because communication and trust increases.
10) Flat Organization. Every Zappos employee got to collaborate on the company's core values. The monthly employee newsletter, Ask Anything, encourages employees to send an email and ask any question they want. Zappos believes the best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up. Soon Tony Hsieh may not carry the title of CEO but rather will be another employee with no title as Zappos considers Holacracy, a management structure based on the tasks a company needs to accomplish, rather than a standard reporting structure.
11) Transparency. “In an age of transparency, when Twitter can contribute to a company’s success or its downfall, is there anything more compelling than exposing your company’s DNA to the world.” ~Delivering Happiness. Every year Zappos asks it's employees to contribute (good or bad) to The Culture Book which is then given unedited to prospective employees, vendors and customers. Reporters are encouraged to wander around and talk to whoever they want at Zappos. Lastly, Zappos offers tours of their headquarters in Las Vegas.
Zappos has cracked the code when it comes to finding happiness, having fun and being productive at work. Consider taking a page from Zappos when cultivating a company culture to attract the next generation workers.
Question: What aspects of company culture are valuable to you?