Amazon has recently made headlines by saying that they are offering their employees up to $5,000 to quit, leaving everyone to conclude “Gee it must be great working for Amazon if all those employees don’t want that money.” This is bullshit, and I’ll tell you why.
#1. For employees who’ve been there at least a year, the offer is up to $5,000. It starts out as 2,000 for employees who’ve been there one year. Then after two years, it’s $3,000. After three years $4,000 and after 4 years it’s $5,000. They keep harping on the $5,000 figure but that’s the high end of the scale. Most of the employees who get this offer are offered a much lower number.
#2 The majority of Amazon employees aren’t eligible for the offer at all. There are plenty of stories about Amazon employees who get fired after 60 days for not working fast enough. Meanwhile, the lucky ones who manage to run the gauntlet of constantly being harassed to work faster have to make it all the way to the one year mark before they finally get an offer.
#3 Convincing people to quit (instead of firing them) means more profit for Amazon. Lots of companies offer severance pay when they fire somebody. It’s pretty common. This works out even better for Amazon because they can say they aren’t firing you, you are quitting. Which means you aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. If they fired you, you’d get unemployment, and the more people that file a claim, the higher their premiums go. This way, they are getting themselves off the hook.
This is a publicity stunt. Amazon knows there are fighting a losing battle in the world of public relations. 100 people surveyed, top 6 answers on the board, “Name a company which makes huge profits by treating their employees badly.” Wal-Mart hold the number one spot and Amazon is rapidly gaining on them. This is Amazon’s way of fighting back and trying to make all those disgruntled employees look like a bunch of whiners. They want you to imagine that the vast majority of their employees are smiling happy faces.
Hey, this gives me a great idea for my own business. I should send out press releases saying that I’m giving away a free diamond ring to my unhappy customers. The fine print says that the offer only applies to customers who have used our services at least 12 times in the last 4 years. Anyone who tried us once and hated us isn’t eligible for the offer. And those few who do get the offer are obviously people who liked us the first 11 times and kept calling us back. Also the fine print will say that first we offer you a brass ring, then a gold-plated ring, and then you only get the diamond ring after 4 more years. So I’m not really risking much here. And anyone who takes a ring has to sign a contract promising to never sue me. But I still get to issue a press release saying I’m giving away free diamond rings. Brilliant!