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Spring 2012 Newsletter

inHARMONY The Spring Edition 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

It's hard not to be impressed by Zappos' business success. Founded in 1999, the online shoe retailer has grown to become a great business success story. In less than ten years they reached one billion dollars in gross merchandise sales. Tony Hseich, Zappos CEO, attributes their success to investing time, money and resources in three vital areas: customer service, company culture, and employee training and development. Nothing new! Virtually every company mission and value statement I've ever read promotes those ideals. So how do you transfer the sentiment from a plaque on the wall into the DNA of an organisation?

In Zappos case it commenced with creating the right culture. Their recruitment objectives ensure that potential candidates have the appropriate professional aptitude as well as the personality to fit in with Zappos company culture. Apparently new Zappos employees, after completing an intense four week induction program are offered a bonus incentive to quit immediately. The amount is between $2,000 and $3,000. Such is the allure of working for them that less than 3% take the offer. Zappos cleverly weeds out new employees, protects their brand and competitive advantage. In the process they would save a significant amount of money on lower staff turnover.

In 2009, Zappos debuted at number 23 in Fortune magazines' list of Best Companies to Work For. The magazine cited numerous examples of why employees enjoy working there, including the online retailer's relaxed, fun-loving and close-knit family atmosphere, a distinct lack of hierarchy or management pretence. Employees enjoy a number of benefits from free healthcare to no-charge vending machines. In their unique variation to the 20% doctrine, managers at Zappos are required to spend 20% of their working hours "goofing-off" with employees outside the office.
How does Zappos pursue their single-minded obsession of creating "the ultimate customer experience"? By having an invested workforce.

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