Should You Bribe Your Team to Quit?

Last Updated Jun 2, 2008 6:44 PM EDT

If you're looking to fill your organization with people who are as dedicated to your company as you are, why not weed out the wanna-bes by giving them a quitting bonus?

That's the unusual approach taken by Zappos.com, a leading Internet shoe retailer. As Bill Taylor explains in his Harvard Business Publishing blog, it's an outside-the-box approach that works.

It's a hard job, answering phones and talking to customers for hours at a time. So when Zappos hires new employees, it provides a four-week training period that immerses them in the company's strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.

After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, 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." 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.
Zappo's distinguishes itself from the competition by offering fanatically good customer service. If someone takes the money and runs, they figure, they're not bought in to the concept and won't help the company achieve its mission.

We're not talking about creating a culture of employee inbreeding here. Rather, this is about building a workforce that has at least one thing in common: a devotion to the common cause. And that's something every employer values.

Are you filling your organization with the right people? Putting your money where your mouth is may be one way to find out.

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.