Zappos Fires the Misfits
By Tom Ryan
At a recent Conference Board event, Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos,
indicated that fifty percent of the online retailer’s performance review criteria
measures how an employee is furthering the company’s culture. That work
culture at the company’s Las Vegas offices may include a Dance Revolution machine,
free popcorn and free books greeting visitors in the lobby.
"We are completely committed to our core values, which we call the 3Cs
— clothing, customer service, company culture — to the point where not following
and contributing to them is reason enough for dismissal," said Mr. Hsieh
at the event, according to Vault.com. "This commitment gives our employees
strict direction to follow these values even outside their work profile."
further indicated that that’s why Zappos provides every new hire with five
weeks of training. "If you’re not a good fit, you don’t make
it to the end of those five weeks," he said.
According to an article published
last year in the Las Vegas Sun, Zappos’
offices feature an open workplace without cubicles or offices (even for Mr.
Hsieh) that encourages a "relaxed, fun-loving and close-knit family atmosphere" with
a focus on freedom and individuality. Customer service reps aren’t required
to follow scripts or have limits on how much time they spend on each customer.
It also features an extraordinary level of transparency as live streams of
all-hands meetings are accessible to the public.
But the liberal workplace climate
also includes free lunches, a nap room, video games, rainforest decorations
that hang from the ceiling, regular costume parties and parades, and decorations
in each department. As part of daily company tours given by select Zappos employees,
each department has its own theme and greeting for tour takers. The article
notes that one department consisted of a row of Elvis impersonators, another
featured workers mimicking cheerleaders replete with pom-poms, and one row
known as Area 52 featured "creepy voice-altering
Mr. Hsieh told the Sun, "We take a work hard,
play hard approach. While we do have a lot of fun, we also have high expectations
in terms of performance."
Discussion Questions: What are some sound ways for a company to establish
and preserve a dynamic working culture? Do you think cultural mismatches
should be grounds for firing? At what point does it cross the line into unfair
- Is Preserving Company Culture More Important
than Profits? – Vault.com
- Workplace fun is the shoe that fits at Zappos – Las Vegas Sun