Employers the world over know the pain of trying to manage people who don’t want to be there, but are hanging on because they need the dough.
They aren’t performing poorly enough to get fired, but their hearts and heads just aren’t in the game.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has equipped his managers with a tool that addresses this situation. Dubbed the “Pay to Quit” program, it offers unhappy workers a bonus to leave.
In his 2014 letter to shareholders, Bezos explains “Pay to Quit.” Adopted from Zappos, the shoe company Amazon bought, “Pay to Quit” is designed “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,” Bezos said.
The way it works is that every year, Amazon offers fulfillment center employees cash to quit their jobs. The first year, an employee is offered $1,000. Second, third, fourth and fifth year, another grand is added. The offer caps at $5,000.
“The headline on the offer is ‘Please Don’t Take This Offer,’” Bezos said in the letter. “We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay.”
But, if they’re not happy, he’d rather pay them to go away than have them hanging around, dragging the whole operation down.
In his letter, Bezos mentioned two other programs created to enrich the employee experience at Amazon.
“‘Career Choice’ is a program where we pre-pay 95 percent 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. We know that for some of our fulfillment center employees, Amazon will be a career. For others, Amazon might be a stepping stone on the way to a job somewhere else – a job that may require new skills. If the right training can make the difference, we want to help,” he said.
In addition, to provide a better work-life balance for some employees, Amazon offers the “Virtual Contact Center” that allows certain customer service reps to work from home.
“Under this program, employees provide customer service support for Amazon and Kindle customers while working from home. This flexibility is ideal for many employees who, perhaps because they have young children or for another reason, either cannot or prefer not to work outside the home. Our Virtual Contact Center is our fastest-growing ‘site’ in the U.S., operating in more than 10 states today. This growth will continue as we hope to double our state footprint in 2014,” he wrote.