After taking over as the CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer announced last year that all of its US employees will get a smartphone of their choice, including phone bills and internet charges. It includes any model of Apple, Samsung, HTC or others that run mostly on iOS or Android platforms, except anything that runs on Blackberry. The offer seems to imply Yahoo’s adaptation to current dying trend of Blackberry, and rise of iOS and Android systems. The offer would cost Yahoo several million dollars, however, not much when you compare with its US$ 5 billion revenue per year!
What are the implications of this move? The CEO dubbed this program as “Yahoo! Smart Phones, Smart Fun!” It sounds great, particularly to those young and enthusiastic employees who dream to have the latest smartphone available in the market. It feels better when this is free and your boss pays for voice and internet usage! Definitely a morale and motivation booster for its employees.
Well, Yahoo also has something in mind. In line with the majority of its customers who are using iOS and Android phones, Yahoo is tuning up its employees to understand customers better- to think and act like its customers. As the CEO said, “We’d like our employees to have devices similar to our users, so we can think and work as the majority of our users do.” What a smart move indeed! Some critiques argue that, while Yahoo’s motive is clear, this scheme would also burden employees with extra workload because they are available beyond working hours due to accessibility of “official” phones. There would be no excuse to delay in replying emails or text messages from your boss even when you are not working.
Over and above all, it seems that if abuses can be prevented in overloading employees, sponsored smartphones would be a smart move to increase morale and productivity. In fact, what unique takeaway in this example is the CEO’s thinking of aligning employees to understand the way customers think, so that better services can be provided in turn. Can we say that this internal marketing practice should be replicated by other marketers too?