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Paying new employees $1,000 to quit

   Judi Casey had an interesting  post on the Sloan Work and Family Research Network Blog that I want to share. I love to see creativity from companies when it comes to boosting employee engagement. 

She writes: "Here’s a unique idea implemented by the online shoe company Zappos that really got me thinking. Located in Kentucky (fulfillment center) and Nevada (corporate headquarters), Zappos is just 10 years young, employs more than 1,000 people, and generated more than $1 billion in gross merchandise sales during 2008.

Here’s the idea: Zappos offers their new call center trainees a $1,000 bonus to quit at the end of their 4 week training period in addition to any salary earned for training participation. The thinking is that if you’d take a grand instead of work for them, you don’t have the level of commitment and enthusiasm that they are looking for in their new hires. In fact, the number one priority of Zappos is to provide the “best customer service possible.” Apparently, only 10% of the trainees accept their offer and quit! The remaining trainees have demonstrated that they really want to be part of the organization and definitely embrace the customer-service focus espoused by Zappos as critical for success.

Their business model is also intriguing. Basically, they believe that if they can be the best at selling shoes by providing stellar customer service, they can be the best at “anything and everything,” so their plan is to expand their markets to other products, which of course, is limitless.

From their website: “We believe that if we continue to focus on providing the absolute best service and the absolute best shopping experience, then we can continue to grow as a company. Our hope is that our focus on service will allow us to WOW our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our investors. We want Zappos to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags, and anything and everything.”

Judy wonders whether Zappos acquisition by Amazon will change anything. I wonder whether other businesses will learn anything from Zappos example. I can't understand why customer service at many places still stinks - even when they are supposed to try harder to build business. Is the fact that worker productivity is up related to this decline in customer service. Are employees working longer and harder and caring less?  I would answer yes. What are your thoughts?