Why You Should Pay Your Staff to Quit

It’s all about the bigger picture.


Most companies can attest to the fact that an unhappy worker certainly does more harm than good. Dragging their feet through the working day, resenting every task – this is the kind of employee that doesn’t bode well for a company on the rise but management processes mean that firing is often a drawn out, difficult and costly task.

Giving employees a payout in the event of them quitting isn’t a waste of money, say some companies: it’s good business.

Online American shoe retailer Zappos is just one of the companies that employs this strategy. Amid a management changeover to their new ‘bossless’ operating structure known as ‘Holacracy’, management was noticing the toll it was taking on staff performance and decided to take action. CEO Tony Hsieh issued a memo to staff that they would be compensated with up to three months’ pay if they chose to leave by a certain time: 14% of staff took the deal.

“Whatever the number of people who took the offer was the right number as they made the decision that was right for them and right for Zappos,” exaplains John Bunch, who oversees management transition for Zappos.

It actually makes more sense than you might intially consider: it presents unsatisfied staff with the perfect opportunity to leave the company before their unhappiness directly impacts the functioning of the business. Indeed, any employee who doesn’t have the company’s interests at heart would be tempted by the offer and in this way, both the employer and employee win.

Video game company Riot Games, who have dubbed their ‘pay to leave’ strategy ‘Queue Dodge’, also believes it’s the best way to ensure your employees fit into the culture of their workplace: one where their job satisfaction isn’t determined by their salary.

“From the beginning we’ve focused on culture. We operate on a foundation of shared mission, values, passion, trust, and mutual respect,” a Riot Games statement explained. “If someone gags on the unique flavour of our culture, they’d be doing themselves and the company a disservice to hang on just for the paycheck.”

Paying staff to quit is a much less painful and arduous process than their eventual firing that is sure to eventuate after months or even years of substandard work, which can be easily and effectively avoided with this policy. Mega e-tailer Amazon, also uses this approach and agrees it results in a better long term outcome.

“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos explained in a letter to the company’s shareholders. “In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

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