Colony presents itself as a luxury co-working space where the lines between a 5-star hotel and an office are blurred.
Their services are known to be premium with everything from dishwashing to mail delivery taken care of for you.
With the attention to detail they put into their efforts of catering to you, it should come as no surprise that their rates do run along the more premium side, too.
On the other hand, Colony has also implemented a generous RM3,000 minimum wage salary for all their full-time employees, regardless of their roles in the company.
The inspiration behind the salary implementation
Back in early 2018, Colony’s CEO, Timothy Tiah was chatting with a colleague when she revealed that she had to skip lunch sometimes because her salary of RM2,500 wasn’t enough for KL living.
He reverse-calculated her costs with her and realised she was right. “You could get by, but not comfortably,” he told us.
“This was especially so since she had to rent a room here because she was from out of town.”
Her story inspired Colony’s implementation of the RM3,000 minimum monthly salary.
When offering such a considerable pay, you’d expect Colony’s recruitment process to be exclusive to individuals with relevant academic qualifications and years of experience in relevant industries.
According to Timothy, that isn’t really the case. When it comes to potential hires, they place more weight on attitude than skill sets.
Attitude over skill sets
“We put a strong emphasis on our 5 Colony values that our team subscribes to. So, we’ll ask ‘At Colony we live by a set of 5 values: Extreme Ownership, Empathy, Tenacity, Integrity and Gratitude—do you resonate with these values?’” Timothy said.
Interviewees who say “yes” are questioned on an instance where they exhibited any of those values. Those who say “no” are gracefully told that Colony isn’t the right company for them.
To him, job interviews are where he gets to see if a candidate’s a right fit for Colony, and if working at Colony would make them happy.
In a month, Colony receives around 200 applicants, with only 30 usually getting an interview with Timothy, who makes it a point to personally conduct them.
“Of the 30 or so that make it to the interview, we hire about 2–3 of them a month. So, it’s about a 1% acceptance rate,” he told us.
It’s a cycle of care
Colony’s focus on attitude when hiring doesn’t mean that qualifications don’t matter at all.
“If it’s a sales role then some sales background will be good but if it’s a Community Manager then service industry background will be helpful,” Timothy said.
“In Colony, we hire a lot from the hospitality industry. People who worked in hotels, F&B, airlines, etc.”
“Care” appears to be the backbone of operations at Colony, and we asked what that had to do with an RM3,000 salary.
“We believe that in order for people to do their best work, they need to earn a minimum to take care of all their basic expenses. Only then can they be really happy at work,” Timothy answered.
“Our belief is that if we take care of our employees, our employees will take care of our customers and our customers will then take care of our shareholders.”
Besides the impressive salary, there’s a whole career progression path for employees as the company grows.
As long as employees do well, they get a fixed increment laid out to them at the beginning of the year.
“Increments can go from 15–25%,” said Timothy.
We then asked him whether he thought Colony was disrupting the market by offering such a salary, to which he replied, “I don’t think so.”
“We’re still a really tiny company in a very large market. I doubt what we do here would create much of a ripple effect.”
Meet Nurul, a Colony intern who was offered a full-time position
After knowing the reason for Colony’s implementation of the RM3,000 salary, you’re probably wondering what it’s like being the recipient of such a salary.
We spoke to Nurul, a Community Manager at Colony @ Star Boulevard KLCC who was offered RM3,000 when she requested only RM1,500 as her salary.
Her initial reaction was surprise as she was a fresh graduate and didn’t come from a hospitality background.
With a Diploma in Secretarial Science and her only working experience being part-time jobs at supermarkets during semester breaks, she first joined Colony as an intern.
“It was never in my plan or expectation that I would get a comfortable job straight away after I graduated,” she told us.
“I made a plan that after my internship ends, I would go to a fast-food chain to work while applying for a proper permanent job.”
“But the odds were on my side and I was offered a permanent position with Colony during the last two weeks of my internship.”
Embodying Colony’s value of Extreme Ownership
Nurul said that the RM3,000 salary has indeed put some pressure on her at work, but that it’s a good kind of pressure.
She sees it as an indication of Colony’s trust in her, and she’s grown more confident in herself and her abilities because of it.
“I lacked confidence when I first started as a Community Manager. I always asked my colleagues about every single thing that I had to do or needed to decide on,” Nurul said.
Later on, when she realised she needed to take full responsibility for her decisions, she became more careful and confident in making them.
“For me, that is the best way to learn and act fast, which has helped me a lot in not only my professional life but also my personal life.”
Hiring Nurul was the right choice to Timothy as he noted, “She’s very mature, a fast learner and always helpful. While it’s still early days, the team does love her so far.”
- Find out more about Colony here.
Featured Image Credit: Colony