The title for this post was actually included in an email to a startup company in San Francisco.
“…Don’t use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat or have sex.”
The HR software company, Zenefits, had to send an uncomfortable email out to its employees recently after discovering… um… proof that too much partying was going on in their stairwells.
What is amazing is that the CEO said this:
“… it is too difficult to define and parse what is ‘appropriate’ versus ‘inappropriate’ drinking in the office.”
No it’s not.
It’s very simple.
You don’t drink alcohol while conducting business. Period.
Especially when employees can’t tell the difference between having one social drink after work versus getting completely snookered and then doing the birds and the bees on the stairs.
The CEO asked for common sense.
“Please respect building and company policy and use common sense…”
The employees have none.
You can’t send a memo asking people to use what they obviously don’t have.
The PR from this news item is terrible.
Who will trust an HR software company that can’t even keep its own employees in check?
A marketing cautionary tale:
Your employees will make or break your brand.
So hire carefully and make sure they know the rules. Enforce those rules. Fire those who can’t or won’t follow them.
Celebrating wins is important.
But there are healthier (and safer) alternatives than slugging back a shot of whiskey every time you get a new client.
The Internet is forever.
This company has a valuation of $4.5 billion. Made it into the ‘Unicorn Club’ of start-ups and reached a value of $1 billion quickly, even by Silicon Valley standards.
But all that can get squashed with bad behavior. Which lives on the Internet forever.
The bottom line is that it’s tough to expand into new markets and beat the competition when you’re dealing with stupid employees who are wrecking your brand.
I know Zenefits will be working hard to correct this type of bad behavior.
It’s going to take time and a lot of internal changes.
Consistency is going to be their secret weapon.
Integrity isn’t built in a day. It’s a marriage of promises and action.
If you want to know how to build brand integrity, reach out.
There are ways to prove your business is trustworthy and it can be done with words.
But keeping those stairwells clean is up to you. ;-)
Putting your profits a step above the competition…