Learning from Corporate America: Zappos will pay you to quit

I once worked in a call center where we went through a week of training. On the last day of training we were put on the phones to take customer calls. I knew after about day 2 of training that this was not for me, but I needed a job. I needed to pay my rent that month. After a few weeks when I finally quit, the supervisor begged me to stay. About to be the busiest time of year in retail, they were desperate for bodies–anybody to take customer orders.

Looking back I wonder why a company would want someone to sell their product who does not want to be there. How enthusiastic is that person going to be? How much is that employee going to go out of his way to make the business shine?

Tonight I discovered a company that is at the polar opposite. Zappos will pay you to leave if you don’t want to be there. Talk about engaged employees and customer service.

[Zappos] is a company that’s bursting with personality, to the point where a huge number of its 1,600 employees are power users of Twitter so that their friends, colleagues, and customers know what they’re up to at any moment in time. But here’s what’s really interesting. 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!

Read the full Harvard Business Review post by Bill Taylor

The comments for this post are fascinating too. Ever wonder why a library should have a Twitter account? Read on…

The Twitter effect makes me feel like I am buying from friends, not a big company. I follow Zappos folks from both the Vegas and Kentucky facilities and with each Tweet, not only am I entertained, but I also become a more loyal customer and most importantly, an advocate.

– Posted by Judy C
May 19, 2008 4:47 PM

Granted libraries are already running on tight budgets so we can’t pay people to leave, but what can we learn from Zappos?

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 "One to Watch" for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.

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