Taking a page from sister company, Zappos, Amazon is paying its fulfillment center workers up to $5,000 to quit.
The policy, entitled Pay to Quit, was explained last week in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's letter to shareholders. After the worker completes his/her first year with Amazon, the offer is $2,000. It goes up by $1,000 every year after that until it hits $5,000.
"The headline on the offer is 'Please Don't Take This Offer,"' wrote Mr. Bezos. "We hope they don't take the offer; we want them to stay. 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."
An Amazon spokeswoman told The Tennessean that "a small percentage" have taken the deal since it was implemented for U.S. workers at the start of the year.
The offer is complemented by Amazon's incentive to pay up to 95 percent of tuition for all employees who want to take classes for "in-demand fields," such as nursing or airplane mechanics that aren't relevant to their jobs at Amazon.
"The goal is to enable choice," wrote Mr. Bezos. "We know that for some of our fulfillment center employees, Amazon will be a career. For others, Amazon might be a stepping stone on the way to a job somewhere else — a job that may require new skills. If the right training can make the difference, we want to help."
Pay to quit incentives are rare. Zappos, which Amazon acquired in July 2009, offers one for new customer service workers, and Netflix another for corporate employees.
Although Mr. Bezos last year boasted that Amazon's warehouse jobs pay 30 percent more than jobs in traditional retail stores, reports have surfaced about strict rules and harsh working conditions. Amazon has denied charges of unsafe working conditions.
Do "pay to quit" offers have a net positive or negative effect on overall job performance?