We are all aware of the importance of stable and positive company culture and the many benefits that it can bring to a company. But, even if most of us have the general idea of how to build a company culture of our own, for some businesses it still sounds like a difficult, even far-fetched task.
To make things easier for all of you who still struggle with the mystery of growing your culture, we have decided to take some lessons from the company that does it best. And who is better than Zappos when it comes to company culture? Zappos is a role model for many organizations who are striving to find their way of creating an inspiring company culture.
Why is Zappos so exceptional with its corporate culture? Because they do things differently, from day one. They have become famous for their culture and made a lot of difference in nowadays business operations. Here are just some examples of Zappos practices: paying employees to quit, offering customers free shipping and a year to make returns, and hiring 24/7 phone reps who are incredibly kind.
So, let’s see what we can learn from Zappos' experience and how we can improve our company culture to make it more appealing to our employees and our customers.
Define your core values and maintain them
As Zappos turned into a corporation, it has become more important for them to define their core values explicitly. They now call it "family core values."
These values are transparent and presented to every new employee. Newcomers have four weeks of training, during which they are learning values and are immersed in the corporate culture immediately. They have a very important rule that says: every employee is responsible for company culture! This sense of importance and responsibility motivates each individual to be even more committed to the company's success.
You can do the same - declare your company values and make them available to your team. You can use your internal company blog for this purpose because your company culture will be visible for everyone and open for comments and feedback. Since an internal blog is a transparent and two-way communication channel, you can maintain the culture based on the input you get from the team.
Set a standard for hiring people, and stick to it
Most companies choose their employees based on their diplomas, experience, skills, or a mix of these traits. Not Zappos.
The key factor in selecting their employees is happiness. Believe it or not, one of the fundamental questions in their job interview is: “On a scale of one to ten, how lucky are you?” They believe that happy people will perform better and make the customers happy. This process is known as the process of delivering happiness.
This doesn’t mean that you need to choose only happy employees, too. It means that you should find out what is the key value of your company and select team members who cherish and live by that value, in the same way, you do.
Choose people who are committed and dedicated to the company
Zappos has an unusual practice (it might seem unbelievable at first glance): they offer their new employees $2,000 to quit after the first week.
Such an act might seem absurd, and one may ask what do they gain with an offer like that? Well, they gain a lot! They want to be sure they hired employees whose motivation for work is beyond a short-term paycheck. On top of that, they are sure that people who stay will be committed and dedicated to the company they work for.
You probably get the idea - try to find people who can see the big picture and work with you, not for you.
Encourage your employees to be creative
Management of Zappos knows that the team is essential and that the entire team needs to be involved in the creative process. They even reward the ones who took the risk and start doing things a bit differently. In this way, they made their employees a source of creative ideas.
The best idea can come from anyone in the company, not only from the managers. Management of Zappos publicly recognizes where the ideas came from, to show people that they believe in taking chances.
In this way, they also demonstrate their trust in employees and recognition of their opinion and ideas. The results are happy, motivated employees.
The lesson behind this story is: listen to what your team has to say. They often see different aspects of the problem or the idea, and you should value their opinion. After all, if you plan to build something significant and meaningful for your company, they should be your co-workers, not just people who do things for you.
An internal blog is a perfect tool to give voice to your employees: it is not too distracting and time-consuming like a team chat and it makes all team members feel included and invited to start or join a discussion.
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Celebrate and share success
Zappos's philosophy tells us that recognition and celebrating success is imperative. And they celebrate a lot! Whenever they reach a particular milestone, accomplish a goal, or complete a project they take a break to announce it. And you will love the way they do it. They are ringing bells, organizing parades and happy hours, through parties and carnivals, and delivering employee bonuses and thank-you gifts for everyone involved.
You should think about your way of rewarding your team for an excellent job. At least you can take a small break to celebrate the win. Rewards and recognition give the team new energy and break the everyday routine at work. The result is inspired, enthusiastic, and motivated team members who like the company they are working for.
Reach the excellence in customer service
Most of companies nowadays work with customers, and they are the force that will make or break you. And customers are another Zappos power engine (besides their employees). Zappos has always had a customer-centric culture and this lead them to thousands of happy customers. As CEO of this company Tony Hsieh says: “Good service comes naturally from the satisfied employees who embraced the company culture.”
So, listen to Tony and make your employees happy to get happy customers.
The conclusion that we can take from these lessons is that good company culture provides valuable, hard-working, happy employees who are creative and who will give their best to make your customer satisfied. At the bottom line, your success starts with the culture you are setting and the values you choose to nurture. Look how far Zappos get by setting their culture right. You can do that too, so go ahead and try!