A blog about reputation, marketing and employee morale.

Zappos: Success follows great company culture

Posted by Janet Smith on January 19, 2009

Would you pay new employees $2,000.00 to resign at the end of their first week on the job? It’s a concept that makes perfect sense to the online shoe retailer, Zappos. According to CEO Tony Hsieh, the offer of $2,000.00 to quit stands until the end of the fourth week of training…and less than one percent take the money and run.

I think it’s really smart. Zappos has a distinct culture, and wants employees who completely buy in to their over-the-top customer service philosophy and super-friendly work environment. They want every employee (now 1,600 of them and counting) to be incredibly dedicated—no matter what their position, responsibility, or job description. They want people who care about Zappos, care about their jobs, and care about their co-workers. They’re looking for a certain type of person who will fit and love being a part of the Zappos world.

And clearly, things are working well in the world Zappos has created. Five years ago, sales were about $70 million…and this year, they expect revenues to exceed $1 billion. They do so many things right at this company, in terms of how they keep morale high and motivate employees to work hard and care. And it all starts with making sure they’ve got the right people in every job.

You might be thinking, wow, that’s a tidy sum to pay someone for up to a month of training, then pay another two thousand dollars to quit. And you’re right. But it’s nothing compared with the financial hit a company takes when they retain employees who don’t work hard, don’t go the extra mile for customers, aren’t team players, and aren’t concerned with the quality of their work. These apathetic employees end up alienating customers, clogging up business systems, irritating other workers, and dinging the company’s reputation. It’s not worth it, from any standpoint.

We laugh when we talk about employees “drinking the company kool-aide.” But it probably shouldn’t be treated as a joke. It’s important for employees to feel connected with their employer; to buy in to the business strategy and philosophy; and to have a temperament and personality that simply fits. Do you know what fits for your company?

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