retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Obviously, we talk a lot about Amazon here on MNB.  (Most of you think the coverage is appropriate.  Some wish we'd talk about something - anything - else.   My position is when Amazon stops being interesting, innovative and provocative, I'll stop writing about it.)

Got an email yesterday from an old friend and longtime MNB reader, Tom Murphy, that I thought was worth turning into an Eye-Opener because it focuses on an "Amazon practice that I don’t ever hear people discussing…and it may be more disruptive than most of its other practices."

Tom continues:

Several years ago, as a consultant, I was involved in a proposal discussion with Amazon HR pertaining to helping them manage the scale of annual growth in employees.  As we were discussing their views on HR, they painted a scary picture for most competitors.  You see, Amazon thinks everyone in the world is a potential employee as well as a potential customer.  Unlike traditional competitors, they don’t think of the employee cycle ("cradle to grave”) as hire date to termination/retirement date.  Amazon spends inordinate amounts of energy, time, and resources trying to figure out how to find, entice and capture the best and brightest candidates.  Similar to their customer obsession, they obsess on this candidate pool.

And here is the Eye-Opener…unlike most companies, when an employee leaves for new opportunities, Amazon doesn't view them as an unwanted traitor.  Amazon sees them as potential business leaders for future partnerships, growth and hopes that they will learn more about the business world…then come back to Amazon as a better, more rounded and experienced employee!  They have people, processes and technology that track these ex-employees.

Unfortunately, most retailers (and businesses in general) paint such employees as disloyal traitors…and celebrate their leaving as “no loss”.  What a waste of good humanity and a horrible strategic error!

Agreed!  And thanks for sharing.