HUMAN RESOURCES

We Don't Hire Jerks. Period.

Would your company benefit from a strict "No Jerks" policy? Henry Albrecht's has.
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Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht has a very strict hiring rule: No Jerks. None. Ever.

Hopefully that's clear enough. But to make sure, it's now included in their job descriptions. He was kind enough to explain how this policy affects Limeade.

Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht

Q: Have you noticed any change in job applicants since adding the "no jerks" line to the job descriptions?
A: Yes, the volume has gone up, so we know we struck a chord: We received more than 150 applicants for one position. Moreover, many people have actively pursued us, mentioning the company vibe and values, expressing a desire to work at a place where they are treated like people (and mentioning the policy).

Q: What makes someone a "jerk" in Limeade's eyes?
A: He or she puts his or her own interests (personal or career) ahead of the goals of the team. We recently updated our values to codify this more explicitly--adding two whole new values: "Own it," "We're a Team," and changing some of the details of others.

Q: How do you screen out this characteristic? Are there questions specifically asked, or is it a personality thing?
A: It is absolutely not a personality thing. We hire intense people, introverts, extroverts and a wide variety of personalities in different roles. We do look for a smile, a laugh, a thoughtful comment. Gratitude and self-awareness is big to us. A little homework on the company helps. Complaining is a quick ticket out.

Q: What would be the process if someone started behaving badly?
A: The employee would get direct coaching from the direct manager--who is expected to hold people to the values and competencies we define. There are often varying definitions of jerkiness--and sometimes stylistic differences can be misconstrued. If you raise your voice on behalf of a customer, is that jerkiness? We use judgment, but if a consensus develops, there may be a better fit for that person at a more jerk-tolerant company.

Q: How do you distinguish between being firm and just jerky?
A: Our value 'speak plainly' mantra often requires firmness and stubbornness. We rely on feedback from various angles to know for sure if someone is out of bounds.

Q: How has this policy affected overall morale?
A: We have seen an upward trend in employee happiness since this policy went public. People's morale, though, is much more a result of whether we are kicking butt and making a difference for our customers, also known as winning. 'No jerks' is a vehicle to help us make more progress, faster, with fewer distractions, on our first value--delighting our customers.

Q: How has this policy affected the bottom line? Does the company perform better because the people are nicer?
A: Measuring the ROI of a policy in a stand-alone way is nearly impossible. We know that incredibly talented people choose Limeade and thrive here because we cultivate this garden. We also know the greatest employer brands in the world understand the measurable connection between attracting and retaining top talent and sustainable innovation, competitive advantage and profit growth.

Q: Do you think the company misses out on some great performers because it won't tolerate rude behavior?
A: Absolutely. We aren't a good fit for employees and candidates who find it hard to say please and thank you regularly.

Last updated: Jan 17, 2014

SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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