Would You Quit Your Job For $1,000?

Zappos weeds out wrong hires by offering a bonus to quitters who finish a week of training.

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What would you have said if your current employer had offered you a $1,000 bonus to quit after your first week on the job?

Online shoe-seller Zappos offers the unusual deal to its call center employees, reports Bill Taylor, author of the Game Changer Blog at HarvardBusiness.org. (Hat Tip to Calcanis.)

Zappos treats its new customer service hires to a four-week "deep immersion," in which they learn various aspects of the business—including exposure to the company's high-energy culture and values.

One week into immersion month, Zappos puts the training on pause and offers its employees a deal: If you agree to quit today, we'll give you a $1,000 bonus, in addition to paying you for the time you've already worked. The deal, which is accepted by about 10 percent of the trainees, gives job wafflers a low-stress, guilt-free, high-reward way to opt out of a job they may not feel is right for them, Taylor says.

The size of the bonus has increased as the company has grown. Zappos originally offered $100 to those who would quit, Taylor reports.

Zappos is an interesting company (it's based in Las Vegas, after all, and the staff uses Twitter). Check out the Inside Zappos blog for a sense of the culture. The possibility of collecting a $1,000 bonus forces people to make a very conscious decision about their own abilities and working style and the culture of a company.

You might wonder: Does this process open Zappos up to bonus scammers, who don't want the job and just want the cash? It's possible that Zappos's colorful hiring process may serve as a filter, as might the fact that anyone who needs that bonus so badly probably needs a job even more. And I'm not sure where someone who already has a job would find a free week to role-play as a Zappos trainee.

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