Amazon is taking a note from Zappos and will henceforth pay employees to quit.
Yeah. Remember that? How Zappos is so dedicated to investing in top talent that the company (which was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion) actually offers to pay brand new hires $3000 no-strings-attached to quit?
Well, Amazon has decided to do the same thing. In his annual letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos detailed Amazon’s new “Pay to Quit” program, which will offer associates $2000 to quit. The offer will be made once a year and will bump up by $1000 each year until it reaches $5000. The headline on the offer will be “Please don’t take this offer.” Sensible.
“We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay,” wrote Bezos. “Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”
It’s worth noting now that Amazon has a notoriously high turnover rate, with median employee tenure coming in at just one year. That’s less than the average Walmart employee, who typically quits after 3.3 years. And EVERYONE knows Walmart sucks.
Obviously, this offer is being made to associates—not warehouse employees, who have not had the best time working for Amazon. In recent months, the online retail giant has come under fire for its warehouse work conditions, which require long, grueling hours for low pay, along with a computer-based system demerit program and productivity goals that many employees have said are physically impossible—a reality that keeps them in a constant state of insecurity and makes them easily replaceable.
But what about the rest of its employees? Silicon Valley tech companies are almost always considered the best companies to work for. Apple offers high pay; Facebook offers four months of paid maternity leave; Eventbrite offers infertility treatments through a partnership with Glow; Evernote offers home cleaning services; Google…has a slide (among all of its other amazing perks).
Amazon typically doesn’t rank high among the best places to work. It didn’t make Glassdoor’s top 50 list in 2013 and employees give it an average rating of 3.4 out of five stars. While career opportunities and benefits rank high, work/life balance ranks low, with employees warning job hopefuls to expect 60-hour workweeks year-round and 70-hour weeks during the fourth quarter. Some have also noted that they don’t see the same perks that employees of other major tech companies see. Yahoo employees all get free lunch and Jawbone UP health trackers while Facebook employees get free candy and ice cream and even free dinners for their families. Amazon employees don’t get free meals or nifty gifties.
Jeff Bezos’ CEO approval rating stands at 87%, compared to Dick Costolo at 95%, Mark Zuckerberg at 97%, and Jeff Weiner at 98%. Some employees have described Bezos as lacking empathy, and he’s prone to making comments like “why are you wasting my life?” at the end of presentations.
So with an already high burnout rate and no real perks to keep them on board, will Amazon employees take the money and run en masse?