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Creating a Thriving Environment: Lessons from Companies that Inspire

What do Amazon, Zappos, and CRED have in common? They've cracked the code to building exceptional company cultures. Inside this article, you'll uncover their winning strategies, learn how to truly put your values into action, and discover why employees are lining up to work at these companies.


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Every company aims to create a workplace that enhances employee performance and business impact. While organisations may portray a positive culture in their mission statements and messaging, reality can often clash with theory, leading to a disconnect between words and actions.

So how do successful companies bridge this gap and create truly exceptional places to work? 

“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and then decide where to go.”
— Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great"

Ingredients for a Thriving Work Environment: Beyond the Obvious

“Thriving at work refers to a positive psychological state characterised by a joint sense of vitality and learning.”

Thriving at work: A meta-analysis [Source]

Here are some examples of how startups are building a thriving work environment for their employees:

Building trust with employees

CRED exemplifies trust by allowing employees to keep their MacBooks even after leaving the company. The company pays salaries at the start of each month rather than the end, boosting retention rates. This has also resulted in a strong alumni network that continues to contribute to the success of the company through mentorship programs and collaborative opportunities.

Employee Wellness

Zolve, the neobank, prioritises mental health and work-life balance to create a supportive and vibrant workplace. Regular "wellness weeks" and a culture that values breaks lead to increased employee engagement, decreased burnout, and heightened productivity.

Diversity and Inclusion

Zivame actively promotes diversity and inclusion, setting an example with their "Act Second" initiative that encourages employees to pursue their passions outside work. Employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives bring something very different to the table that drives creativity, collaboration, and innovation within the company.

Experimentation and Learning

Swiggy's culture of experimentation encourages employees to take risks and learn from failures. Through "failure workshops", team members openly discuss setbacks and the lessons learned from them. This approach promotes a growth mindset, where teams are able to make big bets and push the envelope.

Employee Happiness, Empathy and Loyalty

Zappos is truly a unique case study with an equally unique culture.

In 2005, 80% of Zappos' California employees relocated to Las Vegas for a $13-an-hour job. By 2008, Zappos achieved a remarkable turnover rate of 39%, attributed to a culture nurturing happiness, passion, purpose, and humanity, despite a call centre turnover average of 150%.

Download the Zappos Culture Book to learn about their company culture.

At Zappos, all employees, regardless of their role, undergo the same four-week training program followed by two weeks of taking customer calls. After the first week of training, Zappos offers the entire class $2,000 plus payment for the training time if they choose to quit immediately.

Blast from the past: Read how Supercell's unconventional culture propelled them to become the world's most valuable per-employee company.

The Power of Employer Branding: Recruiting Top Talent

Employer branding goes beyond a trendy buzzword. It's about how companies present themselves to both employees and job seekers. A strong employer brand not only cultivates a high-quality workforce, but also nurtures loyalty and retention. It's a strategic investment in building a winning team.

So, how can companies effectively build and showcase their employer brand?

Authenticity is key. Simply touting a fun perk like a ping-pong table won't cut it. Successful companies go beyond superficial branding efforts by manifesting their core values and principles into tangible actions.

  • Netflix embodies its "freedom and responsibility" principle by offering unlimited vacation and empowering employees to act in the company's best interests without micromanagement.
Atlassian’s very first internal blog was a “UX Fail” blog, which included cringe-worthy examples of bad UX their team stumbled on across the web.
  • Atlassian embodies its “openness culture” by fostering internal blogging and encouraging all employees to share their thoughts.

These companies walk the talk and create an environment that embraces their stated principles.

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