The news these days seems to be flooded with companies laying off employees in droves and pausing all hiring plans. However, Adyen (ADYE.Y 1.87%) -- a Dutch payment processing specialist -- seems to be playing a different game and is planning to increase its workforce.

Just like other businesses, Adyen is not immune to economic headwinds. So how is the company managing the situation so much better than its peers? The answer likely lies in Adyen's long-term mindset and its strong company culture.

Near-term trends and macro factors not dictating strategy

It has been a sharp U-turn for many companies over the past 12 months. Until about a year ago, it was an extended period of cheap money -- with zero to low interest rates -- that encouraged "growth at any cost" for many tech-oriented businesses. COVID-19 added fuel to the fire as demand for remote and touchless services of all kinds exploded, and many companies got away from fiscal discipline, procuring more capacity and hiring more people than they could sustain over the long run.

Now -- with historically high inflation, a steep increase in interest rates, and a slowing economy -- many of those same businesses are scrambling to cut costs as fast as they can.

That's where Adyen has been such a rare exception. Adyen's co-founder and CEO, Pieter van der Does, wrote an open letter about a week ago to emphasize that Adyen, unlike many in the tech industry, is not planning to reduce its workforce. It's "business as usual" for the company, he wrote, and, in fact, the company is planning to add a similar number of employees in 2023 as it did in 2022.

The CEO underscored that throughout all stages of Adyen, the company has been efficient and disciplined regarding how many people are truly required to grow its business in the long run. The macro environment and the near-term considerations haven't dictated the company's strategy. 

Exceptional commitment to company culture

Adyen is on a mission to disrupt the payment processing space, which has traditionally been crowded by legacy solutions built on patchwork systems in outdated infrastructures. By integrating with Adyen's modern platform, merchants can process payments via multiple sales channels (in-store; online; buy online, pick up in store; or other variations), accept various forms of digital payments, and trade in different currencies in a single integration. The company has become a top choice for merchants including an esteemed list of clients such as McDonald's, Etsy, Uber, and Nike

Adyen's long-term focus of reimagining the future of payments and fintech, and its company culture -- clearly outlined by "The Adyen Formula," a set of norms and behaviors for employees -- are at the heart of its success. The Adyen Formula emphasizes customer focus, a platform-centric approach to innovation that benefits all customers (not just one through customization), and speed of development. Additionally, it encourages employees to be team oriented, bring diversity of thoughts, eliminate bureaucracy, and exercise direct communication. 

Many companies talk the talk when it comes to the company culture, but rarely do any of them go as far as Adyen does in living the culture every step of the way. It begins with the hiring process. Adyen's very rigorous selection process brings on only those who fit with and will advance the culture. The majority of its prospective employees are even interviewed by its board of directors.

That level of commitment is just unheard of. As van der Does said in his letter, Adyen's meticulous talent strategy has sometimes led to slower growth, but the company is willing to accept that to achieve its long-term goals. And for similar reasons, the company has also stayed away from acquisitions, as integrating with other organizations may dilute the core of the company that has fueled its success.

Strong financials, with relatively lower valuation

With that strong cultural foundation, Adyen seems to have created a template of repeatable success. Over the past three years, Adyen has more than tripled the volume of payments it has processed. In the recently reported first half of 2022 (the company reports results every six months), Adyen grew its year-over-year revenue by an impressive 37%, reaching 609 million euros (roughly $633 million at recent exchange rates).

As discussed, Adyen has grown responsibly, ensuring profitably -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) for the first six months was 356.3 million euros (about $370 million), or a healthy 59% margin. Free cash flow came in at 309 million euros (or about $321 million), an incredible 51% of sales. As of June 30, Adyen had 5.6 billion euros (or $5.8 billion) on its balance sheet.

Shares of Adyen may not seem cheap, trading at more than 80 times earnings per share, but this seems to be the case of the market demanding a premium for the quality of the business. And the shares are trading close to their all-time low values on both price-to-earnings and price-to-free-cash-flow basis.

Global payments revenue was estimated at $1.9 trillion in 2020 and is projected to reach $2.6 trillion in 2025. Adyen, with its culture of discipline, innovation, and undeterred long-term focus, is in an excellent position to capture a larger portion of that massive market opportunity. Buying Adyen's shares now will likely make investors very happy in the long run.