You’re Hired: Now Quit

Say you’re hired for a new job. At the end of a four-week training period, your new boss offers you a big bonus to quit right then. Would you stay on the job, or take the money and run?

Think of it as an employer’s test for whether you’ve come on board for the money or for love of the job.

That’s the strategy online shoe-retail giant Zappos is using to cultivate a more committed customer service staff. Zappos, which has banked on strong customer service to grow its business, offers all of its new call center employees $1,000 to walk away after training. Apparently, new hires turn down the buyout offer 90 percent of the time.

Judging from the glowing customer testimonials on their website, Zappos’s gambit seems to be paying off.

The Harvard Business Review has more.

(HT: CT2)

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  1. Jethro says:

    That seems pretty risky considering the business. I mean, who like call centers? That job stinks! Though, it does make sense to make sure that those who are there will really keep the job when it gets tough.

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  2. Tony says:

    There’s gotta be some kind of asymmetric information issue here – as word gets out that this is the norm, they will get more applicants who don’t want the job, but want a quick 4 weeks training pay + $1000 bonus. It’ll make their hiring process more inefficient.

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  3. Bored@Work says:

    It seems like $1000 is too small an amount to have any effect on the new hires. I’m not sure how much call-center employees make, but $1000 would probably be less than a third of their monthly pay.

    I also suspect that the 10% that DID take the money and run, would most likely have left any way, meaning that they might have left if offered an even smaller amount, like say $500.

    Also, even if someone took the money and left, it needn’t necessarily be the case that he had joined the firm with money on his mind; he might not have liked the four weeks of training and gladly accepted some money (which might have rationalized or legitimized his decision) to leave.

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  4. frankenduf says:

    investment banks do the same thing- if their CEO presides over an 8 billion dollar loss for the company/shareholders, they will be offered 120 million dollars to walk away- apparently, 90% of CEOs accept the offer (the other 10% wait to get placed into government contracting positions, where their losses will be diluted at the taxpayer trough)

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  5. Dan says:

    For a prospective career-type job, this would make more sense, but for a call center job? It seems to me rather than keep those who do it ‘for the love of the job’, you’d only be ensuring you are keeping the dumbest ones (i.e. Those who would pass up $1000 instead of taking the money and getting hired at another easy-to-get job like other call centers, fast food etc…)

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  6. Nathan Eckenrode says:

    it seems that if you are looking at customer service as a bolt on waste of time/money for your business then you would consider that retention of CSRs who want to excel at their job as the dumbest one. But when you consider that excellent customer service will out reward advertising campaigns which are geared to overturn public opinion by a significant margin. I’d say that $1000 to get rid of employees who are not into is a pretty innovative method of protecting your corporate image, maintaining good customer relations and advancing your brand therefore translating into greater profit margins. Not to mention the practically free publicity that comes from these news stories. :)

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  7. Brian says:

    There must be some cognitive dissonance (or some other psycho-social phenomenon) here. So that when people turn down $1000 they come to work every day knowing that they chose it over $1000 and therefore must really like it.

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  8. Peter says:

    It’s decent PR, so some think, and completely disingenuous, but what would you expect from a shoe retailer?

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