How would you like it if your boss walked up to you, asked about your job satisfaction, and then proceeded to tell you they’d be willing to cut you a check to leave. No hard feelings. Amazon.com is willing to do just that. We’re not talking about a severance package, because you only get that when you’re laid off. And this isn’t a last paycheck sort of thing either. This is Amazon’s “Please Don’t Take This Offer” program. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently explained in his annual letter to shareholders a program, that he hopes will ensure the company only keeps around employees who want to be there.
It’s not an original plan, Zappos.com, a shoe and apparel website, began this program years ago. It begins by offering cash incentives to quit during their extensive training process. Over the years Zappos’s program has gone from paying new employees $100 to $4000 to simply walk away if they feel working with them isn’t a good fit.
Regardless of who came up with the idea first, it’s not as though they’re stealing the concept, Amazon purchased Zappos in 2009 for $850 million, it’s nevertheless an interesting one. Amazon’s version is simply this, once a year they’ll offer their associates a get up and go, or business as usual option. The first year offer is $2,000 and it increases by $1000 annually, with a maximum payout of $5,000. The program is only offered to hourly warehouse employees. So far only a small number have actually taken them up on the deal.
As Bezos explains it, their intent isn’t to lose employees, but if you’re not happy where you work, it’s not healthy for you or the company for you to be there. They are big proponents of offering choices to their workers and empowering them in their decisions. In addition to their pay to quit program, the annual letter also details a Career Choice education plan in which the company pre-pays 95% of the tuition for workers interested in “taking courses for in-demand fields, such as airplane mechanics or nursing, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.”
(You can read the entire letter here. )
Bezos acknowledges that for some, Amazon will become a career, and for others only a stepping stone and skill building earning opportunity. Either way, they’re okay with that.
Interested in what it might be like to work for the online giant at one of their fulfillment centers? I have a younger sister who landed a job with them during their 5000 new employees hiring spree last year, and while she didn’t write up her experience online, many firsthand accounts can be found across the web, such as here, here, and here. (Let’s just say you have to be very quick on your toes!)