Zappos – Workplace Culture Not Perks

This week Zappos soared to #6 on the Fortune Best Companies to Work For 2011 list! Just one more case example of the empirically demonstrated correlation between happy employees and happy customers.

But here is something that might be missed, in 2009 (Zappos’ 10th year in business) the company debuted on the Fortune list in position 23, in 2010 it was position 15.

Not only did Zappos make the list quickly and move up rapidly but it did so unconventionally.

If you look carefully at other major players on the list like Google #4, you will see significant employee perks.  In fact the benefits packages of many of the top companies typically include employee health club facilities, on-site daycare and often over-the-top perks like lap pools with life guards.  Also the salary packages for a number of the list leaders are simply amazing as well.

Zappos didn’t perk their way on the list – they took a culture path!  While pay is competitive at Zappos, a significant amount of the company’s resources are used to create a growth oriented and playful culture.  In by book The Zappos Experience, which will be released in the fall, I address the significance of workplace community (the Zappos Family) on true employee engagement.

In essence, your competitor can match or exceed your “perks” on a moments notice but they can’t replicate your culture.  Don’t get me wrong Zappos has an enviable healthcare package and free meals as well as complimentary vending machines.  But the company has something far more powerful and lasting – authentic, vibrant and family-like relationships.  In the end people really do thrive when they are placed in an enriched setting with things that “money just can’t buy.”

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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