Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit

The stories of Zappos' commitment to superior customer service has become nearly legendary. From regular upgrades to next day delivery at no cost to the story of a customer service reps delivery of flowers to a customer whos mother passed away. Now, in Harvard Business Online, Bill Taylor tells of Zappos' unusual customer training program. Zappos offers new employees a $1000 offer to quit after a 4 week training session. The idea behind this tactic is that by weeding out people who take the offer, they keep the ones who will be committed to the company.

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. It’s hard to describe the level of energy in the Zappos culture—which means, by definition, it’s not for everybody. Zappos wants to learn if there’s a bad fit between what makes the organization tick and what makes individual employees tick—and it’s willing to pay to learn sooner rather than later. (About ten percent of new call-center employees take the money and run.)

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It’s a small practice with big implications: Companies don’t engage emotionally with their customers—people do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people.

Now that's innovative thinking—being willing to pay to find and keep committed employees.