We often fall into the habit of following the same path and sticking to past experiences and knowledge.  Recently I read an article in the Australian Financial review titled "Zappos creed: do the opposite to what you know" and was intrigued by the different business mantras that were out there.

The article discusses how Zappos, the world's largest online shoe retailer, has quite literally 'thrown conventional business practice out the window'.  The company has chosen to use unconventional recruiting tools which have resulted in high employee retention in an industry that usually consists of 'transient employees'.  These transient employees have been replaced by people who actually 'feel a sense of belonging' to the company.

The article highlights a few interesting recruiting/employee retention tips:

  1. A bribe to quit During the GFC, staff were offered a redundancy package, based on the notion that those who weren't interested in working for the company would 'take the money and run'.  This approach ensures that the people who work for the company are the right 'fit'. 
  2. A month at the coalface Each new employee has a month where they work at the bottom of the food chain, answering calls in the call centre.  This process has ensured that new employees learn what happens at all levels of the company, not just in their own little niche.
  3. Stop work to have fun Zappos encourages staff to stop work and have fun throughout the day.  You might think that this would reduce the productivity levels of employees however they have found that fun actually enhances productivity.  Another interesting and out of the ordinary innovation is that Zappos encourages staff to talk about their work on social media, a previously unheard of notion.
  4. Transparency Unlike many other organisations Zappos adopts the 'open book management' approach where employees are authorised and encouraged to view the company's financials and other information usually only seen by higher levels of management.

From this article we can see that sometimes we should step back, evaluate and consider doing the 'opposite to what we know'.  In the current economic climate, organisations should be exploring different ways they can achieve a competitive advantage over other firms in their respective industries.

To find out more, read "The Zappos Experience: Five principles to inspire, engage and wow" or contact us for a full copy of the article.