1. Zappos seems to be well-positioned to have a competitive advantage over other online retailers. What challenges discussed in Chapter 1 pose the biggest threat to Zappos’ ability to maintain and enhance its competitive position? How can human resource management practices help Zappos meet these challenges?
Despite the high levels highlighted of the Zappos, certain challenges remain a threat towards the process of maintaining its position. The global economic and financial recession that led to downsizing of its employees in order to keep up the competition in the market is one of them. The other challenge is that of acquisition as highlighted that the company had been acquired with the Amazon. Bratton and Gold (2012) provide some advice human resources managers to prepare employees psychologically when companies suffer losses arising from a recession. This includes having meetings and discussing the uncertainties and how best to approach the challenges, especially the threat of being laid off. Zappos has tried handling this in the most amicable way, but some initial preparations were still needed to prepare the employees psychologically.
2. Do you think that employees of Zappos have high levels of engagement? Why?
I believe employees at Zappos have high levels of engagement. Zappo’s employees are highly motivated and involved in the company’s activities. This has enhanced their contribution towards high performance that has led to the organization winning various awards. They are regularly expected to fill up the status reports on such things as how much time they spend on the telephone with customers. Managers later evaluate the reports in order to identify the existing gaps and training needs assessments. This promotes a high level of employee engagement. Zappos also believes in helping its employees understand what inspired the company culture and helps them in putting into practice the cultural values and needs. The company created the Zappos.com library, which provides a collection of books about creating a passion for customer service, products, and local communities. These books can be found in the front lobby of Zappos offices and are widely read and discussed by company employees. Already this manifests high levels of employee engagement in the daily activities of the company (Townsend et al 2012).
3. Which of Zappos’ 10 core values do you believe that human resource practices can influence the most? The least? Why? For each of the core values, identify the HR practices that are related to it. Explain how each of the HR practice(s) you identified is related to the core values.
Zappo’s operations are guided by values like Deliver WOW through service, embracing and driving change, creating fun and a little weirdness, and being adventurous. They are also expected to be creative, and open-minded, pursuing growth and learning, building open and honest relationships with communication, building a positive team and family spirit, doing more with less, being passionate and determined and remaining humble. Of these values, those that can influence human resources practice include:
•Embracing and driving change- change in the labor market is one of the challenges that Human resources managers are struggling to face. The development of new technologies has forced companies to adjust and adopt new systems that will enhance their customer service operations, Zappos included, in order to maintain the relevance and speed in the market against competitors (Farnham, 2010).
•Building a positive team spirit- more productivity in companies is likely to be achieved via teamwork rather than individual performance. Managers are thus working towards ensuring that teams are effective to increase their outputs and encourage a culture of a learning organization.
•Pursuing growth and learning- winning organizations are those that encourage the continuous learning process of employees, through providing training in the relevant areas that are in line with the market demands. Human resources managers thus have roles to identify the gaps and training needs to increase employee efficiency (Bratton & Gold, 2012).
•Building open and honest relationships-Communication is a vital component of successful organizations. Free and open communication among employees and managers or leaders promotes transparency and knowledge sharing. It is also a source of encouragement for the people.
Those with least influence include:
•Being passionate and determined
•Doing more with less
Bratton, J. & Gold, J. (2012). Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan Farnham D. (2010). Human Resource Management in Context: Strategies, Insights and Solutions. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Townsend, CM et al (2012). Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organization Development from the OD Network. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn