Wellness Case Study: Zappos

Wellness Case Study: Zappos

Zappos is an online retailer of clothing, footwear and accessories that has been recognized for six years by Fortune as one of the top 100 best businesses to work for in terms of a dynamic company culture, amazing benefits and excellent employee empowerment. Because of the company’s focus on wellness and employee empowerment, they have an excellent reputation in the ecommerce retail industry. They’ve also received recognition such as being rated Elite by Stella Service, a J.D. Power Customer Service Champion and has received prestigious awards by Inc. 500, Fast Company and other organizations.


Employees who don’t take care of themselves have poor self-image, health problems and mental health issues that directly impact their daily life, including their work life. They run late, call in sick more often or have to leave for doctor’s appointments for health conditions that could be better managed through lifestyle change and wellness programs.

Though many companies offer perks such as rewards for completing certain wellness goals, free or discounted gym memberships or company-sponsored activities, many employees don’t partake of these programs. They often feel they are forced into participation without really getting excited about the opportunities that are available. Employers don’t understand why employees aren’t taking advantage of the program and assume it’s a problem with the employee instead of a problem with the program.

How does a business develop the awesome company culture and strong participation in wellness programs the way Zappos has? Let’s take a look at their approach and see what they’ve done differently.

What Zappos Tried

Instead of taking a traditional approach to wellness that looked only at the physical side of wellness, Zappos looked beyond that to an approach that focused on making employees happy and encouraging them to have fun with wellness. Rather than stiff, overly-planned corporate outings, they develop new initiatives to keep the corporate culture fun and flexible.

A recent Zappos initiative is Wellness Adventures, during which time wellness coordinator Kelly Maher takes small groups of employees from different departments to an offsite location for the opportunity to do something fun together away from work. Whether it’s a sports lesson, a rousing game of laser tag or jumping around on a trampoline, the focus is on making wellness fun.

March Madness was kicked off with a company-organized three-on-three basketball game. Held in Zappos’ corporate outdoor plaza, people from all departments came to enjoy the game. Recess Tuesdays is another initiative where Kelly puts out playground toys on the plaza to see what will happen. Employees will come outside in their own time, play games and generally have a great time staying active in fun ways.

The Results

The many awards and the recognition that Zappos has received for exceptional customer service speaks for itself. With an amazing list of benefits and a company culture that shows that employees matter, it’s no wonder Zappos employees genuinely enjoy working at the company. Zappos’ way of taking care of employees to get amazing corporate results is so dynamic, it’s being taught to other companies in the form of camps, schools and other training events.

“We see so much that people don’t take care of their bodies. Our programs get people to realize that stereotypical exercise isn’t the only way to be well and be happy,” Zappos wellness coordinator Kelly Maher says.  “It’s about getting people to want to do things voluntarily, not forcing them. Success programs are the ones that get team members energized versus forcing it on them.”