- Hoping to inspire creativity in its employees, Amazon has built a rainforest at its Seattle headquarters, Reuters reports. The online retail giant hopes the lush nature setting under its glass sphere, with 40,000 plants and 400 species, will help generate ideas for new plans and products.
- The rainforest dome replaces closed in offices and desks with open meeting areas and walkways. According to Reuters, Amazon is still expanding its main campus while scouting the country for a place to build its second headquarters; the company has replaced warehouses and parking lots on its main campus with expensive eateries and office towers.
- From 2010 to 2017, Amazon spent $3.7 billion on infrastructure and buildings in Seattle. Reuters says the company expects to invest more than $5 billion in constructing the second headquarters, called "HQ2." The company also plans to create 50,000 jobs with the venture.
Ever since The New York Times released a controversial report on its culture, Amazon has pointedly pushed forth new culture initiatives for its employees. Building a rainforest would be an extravagant step for small-to-midsize employers, but it's a strong example of an image-changer that creates a positive work environment — a potentially worthy investment when it comes to employee engagement, especially now that brand is top priority.
Amazon's focus on inspiring creativity shows that even large tech companies know the importance of soft skills. LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report shows that soft skills are emerging as key competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM jobs. Soft skills not only lead to the creation of new products and processes, they also have a direct link to the bottom line through salesmanship and customer service.