Did you know that the online retail giant Amazon offers its workers money to quit? In any normal business, this would seem anti-productive and a waste of money.
Sure, people quit all the time. But should you give them an incentive for it?
Amazon and Zappos (the company that first came up with the idea) seem to think so. Here’s why:
It Weeds Out the Slackers
Offering a large lump sum to workers who want to quit naturally filters out those workers who are discontent, or otherwise unmotivated.
Based on the employee’s years of service, the sum offered begins at $1,000 (after one year), and maxes out at $5,000. Essentially, Amazon is weeding out those people who don’t want to work in their warehouses within the first five years of employment.
But just how many people take advantage of this offer? Amazon reports that between 2-3% take the money and leave. Considering how large Amazon’s workforce is, this isn’t a very significant percentage. Even though Amazon pays out large sums of money to workers who quit, it considers a better workforce an even trade.
The typical person who takes the payout didn’t really want to be there in the first place. Obviously the payout won’t last that long, so they’ll have to find other employment (hopefully someplace they want to be). At Amazon, however, their presence won’t be missed. They’re most likely the least productive and least motivated individuals on the team.
So, if you’re a slacker, or your heart just isn’t in it, the message Amazon is sending is that it doesn’t want you. Take it and leave.
It Proves the Dedicated
The opposite side of the coin is that by refusing the offer to quit, workers who stay are able to prove their dedication and enjoy a sense of pride in their commitment. Of course, workers still might not feel as dedicated as Amazon would hope — they simply might not think the payout amount is worth the loss of employment.
In general, however, Amazon’s payout offer improves the quality of the work force. It ensures that the majority of its workers are happy and feel a sense of fulfillment, which leads to higher productivity, better customer service, and greater profit margins.
It Inspires Self-Examination
It’s so easy to get stuck in a job that starts out as the “daily grind,” and, before we know it, becomes the “lifetime grind.” More often than not, we don’t change things in our lives we don’t think are broken. We conform to the norm, or the status quo.
Nothing is horrible enough about our jobs to inspire us to quit or start job searching, but we’re not really happy or fulfilled in our work, either. Often it’s only when faced with these decisions that we really stop and take a look at what’s keeping us where we are.
Do we really enjoy our jobs? Do we secretly wish we could find something we enjoy more, or that utilizes more of our skill sets? What are our five-, ten-, and twenty-year plans?
Answering these questions may help us decide if we need a career change, as well as improve our job performance right now. Realizing you really love your job may inspire you to put more effort or creativity into it, or even set your eyes on a promotion.
What do you think? Is Amazon on to something with pay-to-quit incentives?