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What Zappos, Netflix and Vertex Share

What is it that Vertex shares with Netflix and Zappos? At our core we believe in enabling people to feel a greater sense of meaning, purpose and satisfaction at work. This in turn serves to drive innovation and performance. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study reinforces this by revealing, “the 30 million engaged employees in the U.S. come up with most of the innovative ideas, create most of a company’s new customers, and have the most entrepreneurial energy.”

This data (and plenty of other research like it) shows that the way a company fosters its organizational culture and relates to its employees can serve as a competitive differentiator. That’s what we believe at Vertex, and we’re not alone. Gallup’s analysis also confirms a positive connection between higher levels of employee engagement and higher performance levels in nine areas, including customer ratings, productivity, and profitability.

You might know Zappos.com for the massive variety of shoes and clothing it offers through its convenient e-commerce model. But that’s not what sets the company apart, according to its CEO Tony Hsieh, who talks about being the architect of a movement to spread happiness, or “Zappiness,” via three “C”s: clothing, customer service, and company culture.

You also might know Netflix as a ground-breaking company that delivers movies and television shows via video-streaming. But that’s not what truly differentiates it from the competition, according to CEO Reed Hastings and the Netflix slide deck on “Freedom and Responsibility” – the core tenets of the company’s organizational strategy – has received more than eight million views since it was posted online.

Zappos, Netflix and Vertex are not at our core about shoes, videos or tax software. We’re really about people. That’s crucial for today’s businesses, because our increasingly global and technology-empowered economy has greatly lowered the barriers to market entry and has intensified competition. Our ground-breaking products and services remain ground-breaking for only a short period of time before the competition catches up. We need to continually find new ways to innovate by engaging with our employees and – as a result – engaging with our clients. The best way we can do this is by giving employees a greater sense of meaning, purpose and satisfaction at work. We know that our people have this feeling when they:

  • Are free to make choices to secure meaningful work;
  • Are empowered to make decisions that enable them to produce meaningful results;
  • Sense a prevailing fairness in their work environment; and
  • Collaborate with others in a variety of ways to produce work products that contribute to the good of the company and communities in which it exists and does business.

These are a few of the specific tenants of our organizational strategy that we believe help to produce – and sustain – an innovative culture that gives us a “leg up” in the tax technology industry. Employee satisfaction and engagement are related to meaningful business outcomes that are critical for today’s organizations. At Vertex, we believe that creating a unique corporate culture that results in high employee and client satisfaction is a true competitive differentiator.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.

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About this Contributor

Colleen Kirk Headshot
Colleen Kirk
Director Organizational Development

Colleen Kirk is Director of Organizational Development at Vertex where she is responsible for enabling cross functional teams to successfully manage change. She has over 20 years of professional experience in organizational development and change management, and supports the Talent Management efforts within Vertex. Colleen has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior Studies from Immaculata University and will complete her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University in May of 2014.

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