Pay Your Employees to Quit. It Actually Pays Off.

pay your employees to quit

Here’s why paying out actually pays off.

Contract buyouts within the sports and business worlds aren’t exactly a novel approach to making personnel changes. But what about paying employees — employees who don’t have contracts and haven’t yet earned further compensation — to quit? It’s a move that’s finding ground in the business world.

Take Zappos for example. The company pays employees $4,000 to quit. Yes, the company shells out $4,000 to employees who say just two words: “I quit.”

Here’s why it is a great idea.

All Zappos employees must participate in a four-week training program when they are hired. When they complete the four weeks, they are given a choice: They can continue to work for Zappos, or they can quit. Those who quit will be paid a bonus of $4,000.

Essentially, Zappos is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to cultivating its company culture. Zappos leadership believes an employee who is not happy after participating in the training program or is not excited about the company and its culture won’t be a good match. By offering such employees an out, Zappos can quickly and effectively weed out employees who are not a good fit within the company’s culture.

This may seem crazy, but the reality is that when unhappy employees leave the company within their first four weeks of employment, the financial implications are much, much lower than the cost of unhappy employees who are likely to be uninspired at work and quit in less than a year.

Why does Zappos do this?

It wants to attract and retain great talent. In his book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says: “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.” In short, Zappos is big on company culture. This focus has made it successful — very successful.

So how many Zappos employees take the money and run? You might be surprised to learn that only between 2 to 3 percent of people quit and take the $4,000.

Another example of front-end hiring processes from eBay

During his time as the COO of eBay, Maynard Webb also employed front-end hiring processes to determine if a candidate would be a good fit within the company’s culture. To assemble a solid team, he recommends asking the right questions during the hiring process. He gives as an example of a question he would routinely ask job candidates to determine fit at eBay. “If something breaks at 2 a.m. but miraculously resolves itself before anyone understands it, is it okay to unplug and go to sleep? The answer should be no.”

With the U.S. Department of Labor currently estimating the average cost of a bad hiring decision to be as much as 30% of an individual’s first-year potential earnings, a single bad hire with an annual income of $50,000 can equal a potential $15,000 loss for a company. It might actually pay to create a company payment system that is designed to weed out new hires who reveal themselves to be less-than-stellar prospects for long-term employment.

What do you think about the idea of paying your employees to quit? What processes do you have in place to detect personnel issues up front?

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