Startup ZenPayroll offers employees a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world
Via Mashable : The competition for talent in Silicon Valley seems to get tougher every year. Joshua Reeves, CEO and co-founder of ZenPayroll, thinks he has found the answer: shoeless offices and a free plane ticket (after their one-year anniversary) to anywhere in the world.
ZenPayroll kicked 2015 off with 60 employees and is projected to grow to almost 300 by the end of the year. “This is a marathon, not sprint,” says Reeves. Reeves believes it’s always important to be thinking of solving problems over the long-term, not the short-term, which in turn means that pacing is important.
Earlier this year, ZenPayroll, a cloud-based payroll processing startup, raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Google Capital, which brings their total raised funds to $86.1 million. The company seeks to solve the persistent problem of small companies that are having trouble getting payroll right. Reeves notes that every year nearly 2 million companies in the U.S. get fined for incorrect payroll taxes. 2.4 million companies still do their taxes by hand. Reeves wants to sell them the technology to get it right.
The challenge: The work of ZenPayroll isn’t as sexy as the next hottest social media startups, with their apps and swag. So Reeves had to create a positive company culture that would keep people in their seats. ZenPayroll won first place as the best place to work in 2015 by the San Francisco Business Times. Reeves thinks he has found the answer for his company — and has advice for others.
But first, some things had to go. Reeves started with the shoes.
Socks don’t suck
From his early moonlighting days living and working out of residential home in Palo Alto, Reeves and his two co-founders always practiced a ‘shoes-off’ policy at the door.
Since that time, Reeves’ company grew into bigger spaces and he’s carried that same tradition practiced by his own family with more than 80 employees to create a more intimate environment. “In the entrance of our new office we have a 10-foot tall shoe rack that fits hundreds and hundreds of shoes. — A very residential feel. For us it [feels] very authentic.”
Every employee is an owner
Gathering inspiration from companies like Costco, Google, Trader Joe’s and Zappos, Reeves believes happy employees will lead to happy customers.
“Our focus is the individual. We really believe that business is about people,” Reeves says,
According to Reeves, having engaged employees starts with treating [your] team like owners. “It’s all about building a company on trust and hiring like-minded people.” Reeves is interested in expanding with like-minded people who believe in ZenPayroll’s values: having ownership mentality, going the extra mile, doing what’s right, being transparent and not settling for short-term goals.
Reeves actively continues to remove as many ‘boss barriers’ as possible by holding bi-weekly Q&A’s, where employees at any level can come and ask him whatever is on their minds. His only rule: no questions are off limits.
The Golden Ticket
To celebrate one-year anniversaries, employees are given a free plane ticket to travel to anywhere in the world, also referred to as the “golden ticket.” “It’s very easy to get caught up in day-to-day work. Travel is a fantastic way to take a step back and think about what’s working and help your teammates think long-term,” says Reeves.
Employees have travelled to destinations all over the world including: Israel, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand.
In addition to the anniversary trip, employees enjoy other miscellaneous perks such as: house stipends, Wednesday night family-friendly meals, limitless vacation days and more. Even with all the lavish perks ZenPayroll employees enjoy, Reeves says, “it’s not just having perks for the sakes of having perks, it’s all about finding ways to think more holistically about the bigger picture.”
How can other companies create long lasting company culture?
For others who are looking to grow a small business and make it a place where people love to work, Reeves has a couple words of advice:
1. Spend the time upfront to be introspective: “As an entrepreneur, you’re always going to have a million things to do. It’s never going to go away. Make sure the foundation is set early on. Set aside the time [with your business partners] to discuss why you’re there to begin with, your most important principles, and the outcome you’re striving for.”
2. Make sure your values tie into how you hire: “This is how you continue to build a culture you’re proud of versus having your organization change without you realizing it.”
3. Align motivation: “Really understand why you want to start a business. If you are starting a company with other founders, there should be alignment with each individual as to what is at the core of what drives them. If not, there can be a split in the company. Egos cannot get involved.”
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