Abby Reese ‘25, Staff Writer

It is rare to come across companies that have such high standards for how they treat their employees. One of those organizations is an online shoe market platform by the name of Zappos. The company is stakeholder centric, combining virtue ethics with positive reinforcement and support. Zappos is excellent in the field of customer service because of their hiring process and their employee morale and culture. 

One of the primary reasons Zappos’ employee retention rate is so high is because of their unique hiring process. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh states they have some “unusual” questions that they ask during the interview process. (Tjan, Harvard Business Review) One such question being “On a scale of 1-10, how lucky are you?” (Tjan, Harvard Business Review). The purpose of these seemingly strange questions is to gauge their performance. Those who perceive themselves as lucky are more likely to be better at problem solving and overall performance than those who believe they are generally unlucky (Tjan, Harvard Business Review). Another unconventional element in Zappos’ hiring process is offering a $2,000 check for new hires to quit after the first week. This is to ensure long term commitment to the company and are working there for reasons beyond a paycheck (Tjan, Harvard Business Review). This increased the employee retention rate and also improved the workplace culture at the same time. 

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Employee morale is another crucial factor in workplace culture and success. This is in part because of the hiring process, but also because of the values that have been in place from the beginning. Hsieh believes in placing the focus on intrinsic values and motivators rather than extrinsic motivators such as money. (Tjan, Harvard Business Review) It is those intrinsic motivators that inspire long term commitment to the company (Tjan, Harvard Business Review). Another fascinating ideal that the company practices is creating a list of core standards by which employees should remember and live by. Some values that capture the essence of the workplace culture include “Be humble” and “Be open-minded” (Tjan, Harvard Business Review). Collectively, the employees of Zappos created and adopted these values into the workplace which is important for creating a different, more positive culture and environment than those of competitors.

Workplace culture and environment can make or break a business. As someone who may pursue industrial-organizational psychology, I have a new appreciation for ethics in business and how it can shape an environment. Zappos lends itself a great example to other companies which are looking to improve their employee retention, morale, and overall culture.


Four lessons on culture and customer service from Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh. Harvard Business

Review. (2014, July 23). Retrieved September 13, 2022, from