case study on appletree

Video Case: Appletree Answers

Service industries strive to relieve their customers’ anxieties, but often those stresses are transferred to the service employees. For example, help desk call center workers face so much tension that turnover rates can reach as high as 125 percent per year. That amounts to a loss of every employee plus a quarter of their replacements in a single year. Since finding new people to fill all those positions can be expensive, the savviest companies look for ways to motivate their employees to be productive and happy so that they choose to stick around for a while.

John Ratliff of Appletree Answers, a company that provides call center and receptionist services for other businesses, was able to expand his company from a one-man operation to a thriving business with 650 employees at more than 20 locations. Appletree supports clients ranging from sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies in every industry imaginable.

Early in its growth, however, Appletree suffered the same high turnover rate that is common in the call center industry. Ratliff decided to restructure the business to focus on employee satisfaction and wellness. First, he developed a new set of company principles that encouraged staffers to “think like a customer” and “take care of each other.” In order to accommodate his largely Generation Y employees, Ratliff instituted flexible schedules and arranged for additional training programs. Ratliff also encourages employees to submit ideas regarding the company’s projects. A desktop app called Idea Flash lets staffers send their suggestions to executives, further enriching the job experience.

In his quest to turn his company around, Ratliff discovered that some of his employees struggled with problems such as serious illnesses, financial hardships, and even homelessness. To combat these crises, he created the Dream On program to provide personalized motivation that doesn’t come in a standard paycheck. Similar to the Make a Wish Foundation, Dream On strives to help make selected employees’ “dreams” come true, whether it is a trip to Disney World for a sick child or a luxury honeymoon for a loyal worker.

Working in this newly fulfilling environment had a profound effect on Appletree’s staff. No longer just seat-fillers, their personal commitment to the company became an integral part of its goals and culture. Because of all this positive reinforcement, Appletree staffers are not only more willing to stay at their jobs, but they also perform their tasks with more energy and effort. John Ratliff’s unique approach gives his company a leg up on the industry while still caring deeply for his employees. That’s known as a “win–win.”

Answer these questions

1. Why is employee turnover very costly for companies?

2. How did John Ratliff increase employee motivation by understanding and adapting the motivational theories discussed in the chapter? Which theory do you think is most appropriate and why?

3. How did the Dream On program motivate workers and help build stability within the organization?


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case study on appletree was first posted on August 16, 2020 at 11:20 am.
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