Article: The Wisdom of Oz And Its Reward Programme

Employer Branding

The Wisdom of Oz And Its Reward Programme

It is often the journey and all its adventures that excite people to work. Organizations need to create the environment that allows its employees a chance to lead a purpose-driven life – The Ozvision Story
The Wisdom of Oz And Its Reward Programme

Ozvision produces what they call an “online loyalty matching service” connecting consumers and enterprises through their Dorubako website


Employees look beyond the money factor and new aspects have become crucial; in India, job security, emotional support and career development drive engagement and motivation


It is often the journey and all its adventures that excite people to work. Organizations need to create the environment that allows its employees a chance to lead a purpose-driven life – The Ozvision Story

Ozvision, a small Japanese technology company is in the midst of a brave experiment with a completely different kind of mission. If they succeed and if others follow, the impact on how they do what they do, why they do it and how they are rewarded for it, may never be the same.

Ozvision produces what they call an “online loyalty matching service” connecting consumers and enterprises through their Dorubako website. In other words, Dorubako is a rewards program - much like Kingfisher Air King Club. Another way to think about what they do is like a game. They reward consumer actions - like buying a product - by awarding points.
Now, you might expect that when a company built around offering a rewards program, built their own rewards program, they would build it around points. You would expect, perhaps, a smart tie-in between what they do for their customers - connecting points with transactions - and their own incentive schemes. For example, it would not be difficult to break down the amount of an annual award target of one lakh rupees into 100,000 points and tie these points to business objectives. And since the company is hi-tech, it would be a small matter to create a swift, shiny application that would let employees track their points, unlock badges, and so on.

But Ozvision goes in a bold, unexpected and completely different direction. They do not offer their employees any points. They offer employees the opportunity to make others happy while increasing their own self-actualization. This is not hyperbole. Ozvision’s mission is “to become a group of people who attain self-actualization by contributing to others’ happiness”. On the face of it, this mission would make sense for a religion or perhaps an organization like the Peace Corps. The advantages of this goal are less obvious for a for-profit commerce-based site, but they are nevertheless profound.

Here is what they say to explain their name and philosophy:

The story of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a story of a small girl named Dorothy and her friends who travel to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz to meet the Wizard who they believed would grant them their wishes. They find out that the Wizard is nothing more than an old man with no magical powers, but the journey and all the adventures they had together made them see that they already have all the courage, heart and brains they wanted.
In other words, Ozvision sees one’s career as a journey to self-actualization. We may think we are off to see the Wizard, but the real value of the journey is the journey itself, and the value of the journey is the personal growth it enables.
How do they enable growth? There are a number of programs, large and small. The small program I was most struck by was their PTO program. Yes, they have a holiday schedule and a fixed work week. But they also have an annual employer-funded day of thanks. The program’s rules are simple. Employees can request their day of thanks on any day of the year. They are given a budget of Rs. 10,000 that they can spend in any way they see fit to thank someone, anyone, for anything at all. The only program rule is that once they return to work, they must share the story of what they gave and how the gift was received.

Why is this so revolutionary? Think for a moment about how engineers in your firm are attracted and retained. If it is not all about the work, is it about the money?

Money as a motivator

The traditional method of motivating employees in the western business culture has been to use extrinsic motivation such as pay rises, bonuses, and promotions. But as a number of recent studies have shown,
employees (especially those in non-western cultures) leave not only for compensation reasons. It is no surprise that money is an important factor, but there are many other reasons for an employee’s decision to leave.
In fact, in the current Indian business environment, increasing the basic salary hardly reduces turnover. In a country with a comparably low cost of living, satisfaction with the salary tends to be reached more quickly. Employees look beyond the money factor and new aspects become crucial.

A long-term perspective including the family

According to a recent survey, consistent with the Indian traditional collectivist and relations-oriented culture, as many as 70 percent of employees see job security and emotional comfort as the major elements of motivation.
Traditional Indian companies often play the role of a family extension for their staff. They provide a feeling of belonging, build personal relations, and offer long-term (often life-long) contracts. Research has also shown that organizations that are successful in the Indian market typically include employees’ families into the company life. Family in India plays a crucial role in the life of an individual. A family decision can change the career path of a young professional and make him or her abruptly change jobs, which can translate into huge losses for the company. That is why one of the reasonable solutions for a company would be to involve the families of employees into the company life. Basic things such as family, sport and recreation events, small presents, and specific types of financial support will do the job.

Enabling personal development

Ideally, the next step of the motivation policy should meet the esteem and acknowledgement needs. These are highly important in a hierarchical society as India. A higher position in this culture means status and respect. It often does not automatically imply elements of extra responsibility and additional duties typical to the western attitude, but rather means additional benefits, better work conditions, and respect, which brings us back to Ozvision.
What makes Ozvision so unique is their focus on the top of the pyramid. By focusing on the top stone, Ozvision meets the most important concern for individual development and career advancement any of us have—and goes well beyond what most of us seek from work. Whether he/she is an Indian or Japanese, any employee is keen to understand his or her career opportunities and path in the company. But here, what is essential to understand is the real genius of Ozvision’s model. While we become employees when we walk in through the factory door, we never stop being people.
By focusing on enabling people to grow and develop along whatever their life path is, Ozvision offers a compelling and differentiating alternative to the career ladder - a career pyramid. And by delivering the top of the pyramid, Ozvision does not have to compete to become an employer of choice. It defines the most important choice employment offers: the choice between seeing work as work, or as an enabler of a purpose-driven life.

David Kippen, PhD is CEO and Chief Strategist for Evviva Brands, San Francisco, USA


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Topics: Employer Branding, C-Suite, #BestPractices

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