Zappos Pays Employees to Quit

Paying_people_to_quitI visit many companies, and witness many struggles to provide an exceptional customer experience. One of the consistent obstacles to providing quality service lies in employees who refuse to buy-in to a company’s desire to provide exceptional service and who subvert efforts to do so. I’m constantly amazed as I watch companies who refuse to get rid of these poisonous personalities. Part of it lies in fear of being able to find the right people and part of it lies in fear of the legal repercussions of firing people.

As one of our clients told me, "the reason I use your group to do our Quality Assessment is that I can fire you any time I want. If I hire a team of people to do this, I’m struck with them whether they do the job well or not."

That’s why my interest was piqued by Bill Taylor at Harvard Business School’s Game Changer blog regarding Zappos policy of . The skinny is this…they pay people to go through an intensive four-week course that immerses the potential CSR in the company culture and expectations for service excellence. Before the employee is put on the phone he/she is given a choice – take the job or we’ll pay you for your time and give you a $1,000.00 to quit right now. If the person is willing to take the $1,000 then Zappos figures they weren’t worth putting on the phone and would have cost the company far more in the long run.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and nathangibbs

  5 comments for “Zappos Pays Employees to Quit

  1. Lisa Fields
    June 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I also had a good experience with Zappos. First the bad news. I bought a pair of shoes. It was easy, I knew exactlly what I wanted. Three times the same manufacturing defect occured with this shoe. I kept telling them exactly where the problem was. I explained I consulted within the manufacturing area and this simply was a defect. Anyway after frustration for sure they gave me a certificate for 50.00 if I would buy a pair of shoes from them.
    Hey here is an interesting story. I bought a new Mr. Coffee Ice Tea maker. The directions say to put in one tray of ice cubes Ummm- how many ice cubes=a tray. I’m never one of the first people who buys new and Improved items but I know I’ve had an automatic ice maker more a long time now.
    So… I think there are lots of folks who need us.

  2. June 7, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I’m curious where the $1k is budgeted. Talent Management or Marketing?

  3. David
    June 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I wish every night the training budget for the company I work for could support such a feat. Even if only 50% of what Zappos offers to new-hires. Jealousy indeed…

  4. June 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks for the comments, guys. It would be interesting to know how they budget for this. Nevertheless, I’ve also known many call centers who have a huge HR budget fueled by employees who don’t make it 90 days and dealing with headache employees that you’re stuck with once you’ve hired them. They’re certainly not afraid of taking the risk to venture on the road less-traveled!

  5. June 14, 2008 at 1:29 am

    A rather odd approach but may be one that works.
    The problem with this seems to be that it puts in the mind of the employee the real fear that the employee could lose their job at any time.
    This then could motivate employees not to get it wrong (cover their backs) rather than to get it right.
    Fear is a big motivator, but lots of research has found that it just results in a temporary compliance.

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