Friday, April 11, 2014

Pay to Quit

Counterbalancing yesterday's news eliminating HR departments is a story about an innovative HR strategy dubbed "Pay to Quit." According to a recent piece in Slate, Amazon is offering up to $5000 to any warehouse worker who quits. Amazon's letter to its shareholders stresses that the idea is to filter out those with little attachment to the company so that only really dedicated workers will remain:

The second program is called Pay to Quit. It was invented by the clever people at Zappos, and the Amazon fulfillment centers have been iterating on it. Pay to Quit is pretty simple. Once a year, we offer to pay our associates to quit. The first year the offer is made, it’s for $2,000. Then it goes up one thousand dollars a year until it reaches $5,000. The headline on the offer is “Please Don’t Take This Offer.” We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay. Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.

Maybe making an offer you can refuse will have that effect.  Or maybe those remaining are those without viable alternatives.   But who am I to question the wisdom of Amazon?  

By the way, this is the second of three "employee empowerment" programs featured in the Amazon letter. The first  is Career Choice, "a program where we pre-pay 95% of tuition for our employees to take courses for in-demand fields, such as airplane mechanic or nursing, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. The goal is to enable choice." In this case, apparently choice to leave Amazon.

One wonders about the health of employment at a firm when two of the three employee empowerment initiatives are of the don't- let-the-door-hit-you variety. You naturally ask, what's the third? No surprise here --  the  Virtual Contact Center, which has "continued to grow with terrific results."  Work from home customer service -- it's Amazon's "fastest growing 'site" in the U.S." 

H/t to Steve Willborn.


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I think a number of us may be looking at some pay to quit options in the not distant future. I rather like that tuition scheme. I'll have to keep it in mind. Smoke and mirrors, mes amis. Pay no attention to the little man in the booth.

Posted by: Michael Duff | Apr 12, 2014 8:52:33 AM

Maybe Amazon will actually pay their employees for the work they perform, as well as standing in security checkpoints for 1/2 hour or more each day when leaving. Amazon has been sued in at least 3 states, including Tennessee.

Posted by: Joan Hill | Apr 14, 2014 11:32:06 AM

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