Ep 108 -Creating a Culture of Service for Employees

Organizational Culture, Workplace Culture, Zappos, Best Workplace

Creating a company culture is fundamental to success in recruiting, engaging and retaining your workforce. But it’s also fundamental to having a successful business. In this podcast episode, we are talking about creating an amazing company culture and I thought it best to sit down the head of people operations from one of most iconic and successful consumer brands when it comes to creating unique and engaging company culture. I’m talking about Zappos.

Episode 108: How Zappos Creates a Culture of Service for Employees with Hollie Delaney

Hollie has a long background in HR having worked in a variety of HR roles and industries before joining Zappos in the mid-2000s. Her team is called people operations versus HR because they are focused on serving the employee versus being the company police which HR is often known for.

We quickly dive into the foundation of the Zappos culture. Hollie explains Zappos’ 10 core values that are focused on serving the customer; people operations is focused on supporting the employee to help them be the best at serving the customer. These core values are critical to their culture of service mindset which if you are a Zappos customer you have experienced. Their employees have a great deal of autonomy to do the right thing for their customers which is part of their legendary service you probably have experienced.

Zappos Core Values

· Deliver WOW Through Service

· Embrace and Drive Change

· Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

· Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

· Pursue Growth and Learning

· Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

· Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

· Do More With Less

· Be Passionate and Determined

· Be Humble

The hiring process is long and more of a courtship than a typical interview process, because Zappos is an organization that is not for everyone. Fit is very important not just for Zappos but also for the candidate. Zappos has a traditional process in the sense of phone screens and interviews, however, they also rely on behavioral based interview questions with the goal of immersing the candidate in the company culture, and meet 15-20 different Zappos employees throughout the hiring process.

How Holocracy Helps Drive Employee Engagement

Hollie walks us through the basics of holocracy which Zappos adopted several years ago. She says the holocracy system allows employees and team members to better organize their work, be more involved and more accountable, regardless of how large the organization grows. Holocracy does have strict rules to create freedom. It is structured and organized and it supports the culture of service. It helps bring back authority to front-line managers and employees.

HR became more well-rounded as a result of the switch to holocracy. The change has made for easier transitions and more accountability throughout the employee life cycle. There are less gray transition areas where the employee gets lost.

Hollie says that leaders need to get in same room and decide what the company culture is because it is already being decided and discussed for you. Next is living the values and culture in good times and bad. Not veering off the path with random fire drills and projects that aren’t aligned with the culture and goals outlined.

Connect with Hollie Delaney on LinkedIn.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kristen Kaessler says

    How do I prove that I have listened to this pod cast for SHRM credits? Thanks!

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Hi Kristen, The podcasts are only available for SHRM credit inside of our LEARN product as part of a course bundle. They are grouped together into at least two podcasts so that you can get the 1.0 credit. Neither SHRM or HRCI at present gives out a half credit which is why they are bundled into course. Let me know if you have questions and I can try to help you.

      • Miichele Shimek says

        I purchased your product with the understanding that your materials qualified for SHRM and HRCI credits. Is this not correct?


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