We’re all familiar with Google’s famously unconventional corporate culture complete with lavish amenities and quirky perks. However, online retail giant Zappos has proven that you can make Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and create a legendary culture without the extras.
Case in point: Zappos doesn’t offer a matching 401(k) and most hourly employees earn a modest $23,000 year. And, if employees don’t want to be there after completing the first week of their mandatory five-week customer service training, CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) offers to pay them for their time plus a $2000 bonus to leave, in an effort to weed out those who aren’t a good fit.
Interestingly, in 2007 when he first initiated the program, only 3% of people left, followed by 1% the following year and none in 2009. What’s keeping them around? According to Hsieh, they’re happy.
The Business Model for Happiness
In a 2009 FastCompany interview with Hsieh, he said, “It’s about giving employees permission and encouraging them to just be themselves.” He even took it as far as to say there doesn’t need to be work life balance or separation, but rather integration. Hsieh says “its just life” and if people could feel as comfortable being themselves at work as they are at home, creativity will flourish.
In the same vein, he’s looking for people who will uphold the Zappos culture when they’re away from the office. He’s so serious about maintaining their culture that it accounts for 50% of employee performance reviews. That means regardless of how great you are at your job, you can still be let go if you aren’t living the following:
1. Deliver Wow Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
The Rest Will Follow
Offering the most incentives or the highest compensation doesn’t guarantee a strong corporate culture or a successful business, passionate people do. As Hsieh says, “If we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand, that’ll just be a natural byproduct of that.” And having grossed $1 billion in 10 years, I’d say he’s right.