Most companies can get act quite petulant when employees tell them they want to leave. You are forced to serve a mandatory notice period, your remaining leaves are carefully calibrated, and HR stiffly informs you that you have to return your laptop before you leave. Not Amazon. Amazon wants to give away $5000 to employees who want to quit the company.
This might seem strange at first, but it makes sense – Amazon wants unmotivated people to leave instead of hanging around, and wants to make this process easier. Called Pay To Quit, the program is “pretty simple”, says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “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.’”
Pay To Quit started at Zappos, a company acquired by Amazon, and the parent company adopted the concept for its fulfillment centers. A Harvard Business Review post said that this practice costs less money than if the unmotivated employee chooses to stay and put brakes on its fast-paced culture.
“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want,” Bezos explains. “In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”
Now Amazon’s work culture is famously brutal, and that’s what seems to make this little scheme work. Employees who choose to work at Amazon in spite of the long hours (and the inducement of $5000 to leave) must be really motivated, and perhaps give their jobs their all. Its the collective efforts of these employees that have made Amazon one of the biggest companies in the world.