Amazon paying employees up to $5000 to quit

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by Natalie Brand

azfamily.com

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 13 at 11:48 AM

PHOENIX -- If your employer offered you cash to quit, would you accept?

Retail giant Amazon.com has implemented a special program at its fulfillment centers, including four in the Phoenix area.

Once a year, the company offers its employees between $2,000 to $5,000 dollars to quit in an effort to weed out those who are unhappy.

“Upfront, we tell employees we hope they don’t take this offer; we want them to stay,” said corporate spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman.

“It does help employees take a moment to think about what they want,” Cheeseman continued. “In the long run, employees staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn't healthy for the employee or the company.”

While 3TV couldn’t find any Amazon employees willing to comment in an interview, Gabriel Fugate, who used to work in a professional kitchen, said he would have jumped at that offer.

“If somebody offered me $5,000 to quit, I would have taken it in a heartbeat because I could have invested it in other stuff I already had going," he said.

In an age of employees saying they feel overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, some believe a concept like “pay to quit” embodies employee empowerment. However, others believe it raises red flags.

“I really wonder if that is the most appropriate or the most empowering way to create a force of employees that are happy,” Sandra Freeman questioned.

Amazon wouldn’t give an exact number but says only a small percentage accepts the cash to leave.

“For some people, $5,000 is nothing. For some people, $5,000 could change their life,” Fugate said.

Others would argue that you can’t put a price on happiness.

Amazon says the concept of “pay to quit” was developed by its subsidiary Zappos.

The program also goes hand-in-hand with a “Career Choice” program, in which the company pays 95 percent of tuition for employees studying in-demand fields, such as nursing or airplane mechanics, even if the skills do not pertain to a career at Amazon.

CEO Jeff Bozos says, “The goal is to enable choice.”

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