My First 90 Days at Zenefits: Courage, Connection and Community

April 12, 2018

This post was written by Alagiri Samy, a Product Manager at Zenefits. 

I knew Zenefits would be a great place to learn, even before I joined.

The place where one works has a belief system. When we observe a belief system on a continuous basis and consider it through careful reflection, we can build those characteristics within ourselves. Buddha, the enlightened one, was one of the first thinkers to introduce the philosophy of Experiential Learning, a method that emphasizes the learning through the reflection of doing.

In simple words, wisdom is created through the transformation of experience. And my first three months’ experience at Zenefits has afforded me great opportunity to learn and highly regard its values as an organization.

Live Free or Die Hard

Like any other candidate, I did my research about Zenefits before joining. I even spent time talking to many employees to get a better feel for the place its history. But the Zenefits I was getting acquainted with was very different from what I read and heard — it was a John McClane of the movie Die Hard. He is a strong and capable protagonist who finds himself in difficult situations yet comes out successfully by saving the day for many. Zenefits had its own share of tough days, but did not give up. It fought its way to serve its customers better.

Also, it is true that when I stepped into Zenefits for the first time I felt its Zen — a sense of enlightenment through learning and experience. Like John McClane, Zenefits had a value system to be inspired by. When I was a kid, every time I was down, I used to watch Die Hard. Now as part of  ZenNation, I am in the presence of a passionate, persistent group of people, who like John McClane keep inspiring me with their collective resilience.

Another facet of Zenefits is that we are free-spirited. The teams are made up of pleasant people who are friendly and are great at what they do. More than the activities and programs, it is the happy and fulfilled employees who make this place a good environment to stay and work.

Empathy over Ego

The very idea of Zenefits was born out of empathy. Before the People Platform, small and medium businesses did not just fight growth challenges but had to tackle the administrative challenges as well. With Zenefits, these businesses are focussing on the tasks that can provide them the maximum ROI.

Zenefits holds a very open culture which promotes empathy over ego. This trait of Zenefits is prevalent in all the aspects of decision making. At the end of the day, culture is not all about free beer on Friday or ping pong tables, but rather a sense of inclusivity, safety, and well-being that germinates from empathy.

I can fondly recall a moment from a meeting with a senior executive and a SaaS veteran. She mentioned a few communications that had gone out to our team, but I was in complete bewilderment as I had not received that communication. But it was the next thing that she did that made me fall in love with the company. She personally reached out to the various stakeholders to make sure that I would looped into all threads of communication when she could have easily just told me to find the right person to add me to these forums. Her action demonstrated her prioritization of leading empathetically and inclusively. From that instance alone, I know that the training under this leadership team will grow anyone into a certified professional.

Zenefits makes sure that the employee’s voice is heard and not muffled under layers of management; this creates an environment of freedom and empowerment.

In It together

My first All-Hands was an eye-opener into the company’s culture. The energy on the floor is something that is hard to miss. And when our CEO, Jay Fulcher, started talking about the plan for the coming financial year, it was optimistic even though the targets were one of the most aggressive in the industry. When we spoke about our accomplishments, the vibe of the room was akin to the New Year festivities in Times Square. For me, the All-Hands was like an event where the armies were getting ready for the next battle even after winning a war. That is when I realized why the energy was contagious.

Because “In It Together” is in the very DNA of Zenefits. And hence the excitement regardless of the situation we are in. Not only do I see ‘In It Together’ in our wins, but even in our communique with our customers. And my many interactions with the customer shows they feel it too.

They say that employees who are convinced of the larger common goal are the people who are excited to be a part of a larger purpose. On contemplation, I realized that in Zenefits we are all “In It Together” because we are convinced of the larger purpose of the company. In simple words, it is not the salary or free food, but it is the ideals and vision that holds us to the company.

The last three months at Zenefits have been more eventful than I expected. And the more time I spend, the more virtues I seem to imbibe from Zenefits — a prospect that I’m excited to see and grow.