Zenefits' new CEO just banned employees from drinking alcohol at the office

Tech startup employees often drink and party at the office but that’s no longer acceptable at troubled startup Zenefits.

New CEO David Sacks just banned alcohol from Zenefits’ offices.

Many tech startups proudly offer employees a keg (or several kegs) of beer on tap. Glassdoor has a special wine fridge. Asana offers its employees a Scotch and chocolate collection.

They do this because startups like to think of their offices as a place where employees socialise and enjoy their time together.

But Zenefits is digging itself out of a major meltdown right now which caused its cofounder CEO Parker Conrad to suddenly resign earlier this month.

Among other issues, it was accused of allowing employees to sell insurance without being properly licensed. An internal investigation dug up all kinds of problems, including a program that might have encouraged employees to skirt the law when studying for their licenses. (Sacks just implemented a new Salesforce system intended to make doubly sure that no Zenefits employee can sell insurance without a licence in the future.)

In the meantime, he’s also trying to clean up a corporate culture that he openly called “inappropriate” when he took over as CEO.

A source close to the company sent us this email he sent to the troops on Wednesday.

From: David Sacks

Date: Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 3:59 PM

Subject: Office Alcohol Policy

All –

I wanted to make one other announcement today concerning our office alcohol policy. Although it is very common for startups in Silicon Valley to permit and stock these beverages (including at my previous startup Yammer), I believe it’s time for a different policy.

First, at our level of scale, and being in multiple locations, it is important to have clear policies for employees. In writing these policies, it is too difficult to define and parse what is “appropriate” versus “inappropriate” drinking in the office. Second, we operate in a highly regulated industry, and it’s important to set the right tone in the office. The new policy helps to achieve this and communicate that we are committed to operating with integrity.

As part of our commitment to making this a great place to work, we will find other ways for employees to socialise and have fun. We will be holding more company events, and I look forward to doing an employee off-site soon.

I want to emphasise that the new policy is not a judgment about private behaviour. After work, on their own time, employees are free to drink, and there are any number of local establishments where they can do this. Our office is just not one of them. Our employee handbook will be updated accordingly.

Thank you for your cooperation in this.


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