Wayfair’s CEO sent a year-end bracing message to the furniture chain’s more than 14,000 employees: Work harder.
Instead of focusing on worker efforts and the company’s profitability this year, CEO Niraj Shah encouraged employees to work such long hours that “work and life” become one, according to an internal memo first obtained by Business Insider.
“Working long hours, being responsive, mixing work and life is not something to shy away from,” Shah wrote, according to the report. “There is not much history of laziness being rewarded with success.”
A Wayfair spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the note.
“We are incredibly proud of our world-class team and culture of open communication. In his memo sent to our salaried corporate employees, Niraj reinforced some of the values that have contributed to Wayfair’s success, including questioning the status quo, being cost-effective and work hard together to drive results,” Wayfair said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
Wayfair saw a pandemic-era boost in online sales, but its revenue fell in 2022 as shoppers returned to brick-and-mortar stores and shifted their spending to other products and services. Last year the company lost 5% of its workforce. It has since returned to profitability, with Shah noting that repeat customers increased during 2023.
Shah added that he wants employees to use the company’s money as if it were their own and always negotiate lower costs whenever possible.
Would you spend money on it, would you spend that much money on that thing, does that price seem reasonable, and finally – have you negotiated the price? Everything is negotiable and if you don’t have it, start there,” he wrote.
Some critics took issue with Shah’s message.
“Hey CEOs: When people don’t want to work long hours, it doesn’t mean they’re lazy. It means they have lives outside of work,” Adam Grant, professor of organizational psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote on Instagram.
“A team that delivers 40 hours of excellence is resented more than one that offers 50 of mediocrity,” he added.