As a company that has been fully remote before it was cool to work from home, Zapier founders Wade Foster, Mike Knoop, and Bryan Helmig came up with the idea for new software in 2011 when they were still in school. After graduating, the trio moved out to the Bay Area, the place to be in tech at the time.
The mission of the company is very closely tied to the product: how to make automation work for everyone. The plan was to take a powerful piece of technology and make it accessible to the average person and business. That was the core idea in 2011 and it remains as such today.
Another big part of Zapier’s mission is recognizing that ordinary people are capable of amazing things. And how they can, through automation, enable people to do what they’re best at. It’s all about giving folks the time to get back to doing what they love, and leaving automation to the machines.
Zapier believes that brilliance is everywhere, and the founders wanted their company to reflect that. This is why Zapier has been 100% remote since the beginning.
At the time, this was a wildly unconventional idea — in fact, many people in business saw it as an unwise or bad idea. But they did it anyway.
Being Worthy of Attracting Talent
Because of this notion that brilliance is everywhere, Zapier had to become worthy of attracting talent from all over the world. They had to become an employee-focused brand. The 600 employees at Zapier live in 39 countries and across multiple time zones. And the company believes they’re better for it.
The all-in remote model doesn’t come without challenges, especially as the company grows. It can be difficult to create a sense of belonging and company culture in an all-remote environment. Zapier is able to keep up and improve by constantly learning from their employees in the same way that they learn from their products.
One specific practice that Zapier put in place that can be applied elsewhere, is the idea of transparency. One of the five Zapier values is to “default to transparency.” A large part of this means giving team members easy access to information and the context of established relationships and how the place works. Connecting people in the same time zones or countries is also helpful. Brandon says that it’s all about staying honest, humble, and curious.
Zapier is currently working on a very unique (read: unheard of) initiative that will help their employees find their next job, whether that’s at Zapier or elsewhere. It’s about creating clear pathways for their team members, within the company or somewhere new. They can get coaching on their resumes, do mock interviews, and more.
It goes back to the idea of Zapier as a worthy company. When they’re at their best, they are worthy of long-term employees who are in it for the long haul. That said, if despite it all it’s the right thing for a team member to go somewhere else, Zapier will thank them for their time and do what they reasonably can to help them find their next position.
By following this model, Zapier automatically creates advocates who are out there in the world and speak well of the company. It’s a strategic move, but it’s also one that honors the human experience and shows a lot of genuine care for their people, lovingly referred to as Zapians.
Consumer Brand vs Employer Brand: Showing Instead of Saying
A consumer-based brand is focused on what your customers are saying about your company, product, or service. It’s very external. An employer-based brand is all about what people think it might be like to work at a company, based on what past and present employees are saying about their experiences. It’s more internal.
As Zapier works to become an employee-focused brand, they figured out one notion early on: it’s essential to show instead of say.
Brandon says that it’s less about determining what you should say to prospective candidates. Rather, it’s more about what you should show. You can’t fake your brand. Or you can, but eventually you’ll get found out when the working environment isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be.
No company is perfect and no company is right for everyone. But when you have a strong employer brand, you automatically go through a pre-onboarding process. When you’re clear about what your brand is all about, you’ll attract people who relate to it and who may be a good fit.
Brandon reiterates that when you’re genuine, you’re going to retain your employees, you’ll be able to find people who are aligned with your mission organically, and you’re going to be able to hire people you actually want, based on their human qualities instead of just a resume.
With so many choices out there, there’s a hiring renaissance going on right now. It is challenging and involves a lot of growth, change, and uncertainty. By using Zapier as a model, you can create an employee-focused brand that will attract the best of the best.
When you hire the right people, the right product will follow. Zapier is an excellent example of this idea.
Check Out the Full Episode
Learn more about how building an employee-focused brand can support your talent acquisition. In this episode of The BragWorthy Culture podcast, Jordan Peace sits down with Brandon Sammut, Chief People Officer at Zapier. Brandon filled us in on what it’s like to build remote culture from the get-go and how to build a people-first company. Listen on Apple or Spotify.
For those who don’t already know, Zapier is a no-code tool to help automate repetitive tasks between two or more apps. This mission is so deeply embedded in Zapier’s DNA that it reveals itself not only in how they work with their clients, but how they develop their employees. Brandon shares the why behind Zapier: offering a powerful technology that is normally expensive and/or difficult to use, at an affordable price and in a user-friendly format. Brandon also discusses why Zapier values remote work (and always has) and the possible end of their delocation program. Brandon also talks about the importance of transparency at Zapier, which carries into a program that helps team members find growth and opportunity at Zapier, or elsewhere!
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