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Aspects of Zappos’ Corporate Culture

Zappos’ corporate culture is built on 10 core principles that are a priority for the company. The main principle of the company is to deliver WOW through service, which emphasizes the people and customer-centered approach. Additionally, the company strives to drive change, create a little weirdness and fun, be creative and open-minded, pursue learning and growth. Collaboration between employees and teams is important for Zappos’, which ensures the principle of honest and open communication. Additionally, the company strives to create a family atmosphere through strong interpersonal connections. Finally, Zappos’ is committed to doing more with less effort and costs. The principle of delivering WOW through service would affect employee motivation by making customer satisfaction a priority. Creating a family atmosphere would create personal value for the company for employees, which can also motivate them to perform better. Thus, the corporate culture of the company focuses on the interaction of people as the primary resource and also adheres to the customer and employee-centered approach.

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Areas within which Zappos forms its corporate culture based on building family relationships are typical. Shaari (2019) stresses that the company has “a culture based on treating people well, combined with a strategy that is founded on maintaining employee and customer satisfaction” (p. 36). This type of culture is more like a clan culture in which the relationship between employees and customers is paramount. In particular, it is important for the company to develop the personal qualities of employees and not just focus on their technical skills (Yew, 2019). These aspects make the company’s values ​​ high, as they allow building a strong framework for maintaining a competitive advantage (Sosnilo et al., 2018). The most important aspect in this regard is the drive for change and staff training, which gives the company flexibility in today’s market.

Zappos’ corporate culture is based on core values, which constitute the 10 principles of the company. In the early days of the company, Tony Hsieh, CEO, sought to recruit his friends to create a family atmosphere within the organization. However, over time, Zappos faced difficulties with a lack of technical skills that required them to hire specialists from outside. Gradually, Hsieh began to realize that in this development of events, he risked leaning towards corporate ideology more than corporate culture. Then it was decided to develop 10 principles, which are currently the basis of the company. At the moment, this culture allows one to manage not a modest company but an organization with about 1400 employees without the risk of inclining towards a corporate ideology. The main danger, in this case, is the loss of focus directly on people and a departure from the customer and employee-centered approach to a path with a focus on the technical aspects of the business.

To maintain a corporate culture, Zappos began transforming the hiring process. Specifically, the applicants’ interview process consists of 2 phases in which technical skills are tested first, and then the candidates are introduced to the culture of the company. Once hired, employees internalize the corporate culture through the training and adaptation process. In 4 weeks, new employees are introduced to all aspects of the business, and after the end of the training, they are offered a 4-week pay and a one-time bonus for leaving the company. Thus, the company selects the most passionate employees who want to be active in the activities of the company and are ready to adhere to corporate values. Candidates who pass all tests are later sworn to loyalty to the 10 principles and are also accepted into the family-like environment of the company. Employee happiness is the core value of a company’s corporate culture, which is emphasized by its values.

Other companies could learn from Zappos on which aspects to focus on in shaping their corporate culture. Tony Hsieh sees people as the main resource for doing business, and interpersonal relationships and personal growth as the key to long-term development. In this case, the corporate culture provides the company with flexibility in today’s market conditions. People who have both technical and creative skills are capable of driving innovation for a company. This is currently the most important aspect for maintaining a competitive advantage. Moreover, maintaining employee satisfaction leads to their motivation and involvement in the life of the company. Their work is not isolated but rather related to them both intellectually and spiritually. Others can learn from Zappos’ experience in building a strong culture based on clear and simple values. The postulation of these principles, as well as the loyalty of each employee to them, is the key to long-term stability.

While the Zappos corporate culture is a role model, it can be improved. The company currently focuses on maintaining employee happiness and customer satisfaction. However, in the long term, this approach may not be sufficient, therefore, Zappos should focus more on the development and empowerment of employees. The corporate culture should include the promotion of decision-making initiatives in the company, which will make it more innovative. Additionally, the company should focus on improving communication not only within the company but also with customers. Technical training is essential to maintaining a competitive advantage as much as employee happiness.

References

Shaari, N. (2019). Organization culture as the source of competitive advantage. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, 1(1), 26-38.

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Sosnilo, A. I., Zorina, E. E., & Seleznev, P. S. (2018). Corporate culture as a framework of training employees. 2018 XVII Russian Scientific and Practical Conference on Planning and Teaching Engineering Staff for the Industrial and Economic Complex of the Region (PTES), 235-238. Web.

Yew, S. Y. (2019). Holacracy in action: Zappos experience replicability. Universita Ca’Foscari Venezia. Web.

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