Build a better work force: Bribe employees to quit


Imagine that you are the human resources manager for a large firm. One of your most important duties is to find exemplary employees and to mold them into a stellar workforce for your company. One day, your general manager calls you into her office and asks you how you intend to build the very best employee group that your company has ever had. You reply; "I know, we'll offer them a bonus to quit!!!"

It may sound a bit strange, but that's exactly what one cutting edge Internet retail company does. An article by William C. Taylor, former associate editor of Harvard Business Review, explores the amazing success of Internet shoe retailer Zappos. In his writing, Bill Taylor reveals that part of the strategy utilized by this company to build its exceptional work force is; Zappos pays new employees to quit! Bill explains the strategy like this:

"After a week or so in this immersive (intense training) experience... it's time for what Zappos calls "The Offer." The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: "If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you've worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus."

Bill goes on to say; "Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit! Why? Because if you're willing to take the company up on the offer, you obviously don't have the sense of commitment they are looking for."

I think this strategy is absolutely brilliant. In the short term it's a picayune expense when compared to the long term costs of having a person on payroll who dislikes or even resents being there. It's an endlessly compounding investment in employee morale, resulting in a group of employees who can look among themselves and say "we really do like working here."

It would be my guess that Zappos reaps more than 10 times its investment in this strategy by just reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity, among other ancillary benefits. This is just one more prime example of how setting aside conventional wisdom can quickly vault a company to unprecedented success in the marketplace.