You get paid to work. That’s the usual arrangement. So why are some companies paying people to leave their job?
This story began a few years ago. Back in 2008, Bloomberg Businessweek covered the policy at one young company:
When Zappos hires new employees, it puts them through an intensive four-week training program, immersing them in the company’s culture, strategy, and processes. Then, about one week in, Zappos makes what it calls “The Offer,” telling newbies, “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you have worked, plus a $2,000 bonus.”
Recently, Amazon adopted a similar program. In a letter to shareholders, company CEO Jeff Bezos explains that the company will pay warehouse employees a $1,000 to quit, increasing each year up to $5,000. And now, the video game producer Riot Games is joining the ranks as well. Their policy is a little different, but it can pay out up to $25,000 to the former employee.
The writer and military officer Ian Fleming is quoted as saying “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” Why are companies handing over cash to people who are heading for the door?
The reason is simple: disengaged employees are among the most expensive line items in your company.
We’ve all worked with people who are spending much of their day wishing they were somewhere else. They may try to maintain a professional attitude and get work done, but these are mostly employees in name only. If we give these individuals a little extra push to move on, they may make room for someone who is a better fit.
Reed Hastings at Netflix puts it this way: “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.”
A great employee isn’t just slightly more productive than average employees. Rather, people who are amazingly right for their jobs is the foundation for competitive advantage. Sometimes, these are the team members who change the world.
So, consider paying your people to quit. It might send the right person out, and bring the right person in.