Amazon Will Pay Workers Up to $5,000 to Quit

April 21, 2014

Not getting much actual fulfillment out of your job in the Amazon fulfillment center? It's not all bad. The company might just pay you $5,000 to quit your job.

Why would Amazon want to do this? Well, it turns out that Amazon has a rather serious problem with employee turnover. In fact, Amazon has the second worst turnover rate of any of the Fortune 500 companies.

The goal of the program is to make sure that Amazon employees are in it for the long haul. The big $5,000 payout isn't offered right away. Early on, it's just $2,000—still a nice sendoff. Each year an employee sticks around, the amount increases by $1,000. In year four, Bezos asks the $5,000 question: are you in or out?

He's quick to point out that the letters employees receive are titled "please don't take this offer." He wants his employees to really evaluate where they're at and where they want to go. If that means leaving Amazon to pursue other ambitions, then they're free to accept the cash and be on their way.

Zappos implemented a similar program all the way back in 2008. Zappos is famously obsessed with providing top-notch customer service, and they offered new hires $2,000 to leave as soon as one week after completing an intensive, month-long training course. Today, they've bumped that up to $3,000.

How many take the money and run? At Zappos, less than 3%. The numbers probably won't be that good at Amazon (who bought Zappos in 2009), at least not initially. Amazon also has the third shortest employee tenure of any Fortune 500 business at around one year.

Still, Jeff Bezos believes that the offer will help strengthen the Amazon team. It makes more sense to make the offer and risk losing an employee who would eventually leave anyway so that the search for a long-term player can take that spot on the bench.

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