Sick of your job? These companies will pay you to quit

The quit incentive sounds counterintuitive but it demonstrates that these companies are prioritizing commitment to the job over mindless output.

Those of us who dread work fantasize about getting up from our desk and walking out the door for good. But this dream is held by financial realities. We need that paycheck. If money is what is holding you back, however, more companies are offering an exit package that will make it possible for you to leave with cash in hand.

Online retailer Zappos is known for being a pioneer of this pay-to-quit trend. At Zappos, new hires are given what is known as “The Offer,” and is officially called the Graceful Leave Policy, CNN reports. If new hires are realizing that they are not a good fit for Zappos’ notorious cult of commitment, they can opt out and are given a month’s salary to leave within three months of starting their job. Amazon, which bought Zappos in 2009, offers a similar program, making it an annual offer. If you are unhappy at Amazon, you can get offered up to $5,000 to leave once a year.

Why paying to quit is a good culture move

In workplaces with miserable employees, you can imagine this offer looking like an annual purge of empty desks and liberated workers, but Amazon said only three employees have taken the offer so far this year. For those of us unused to this kind of offer, the quit incentive may sound counterintuitive. Isn’t the goal of recruiting to get good workers to stay?

But the pay-to-quit offer demonstrates that these companies are prioritizing commitment to the job over mindless output. They want employees who actually enjoy working there and are willing to pay money to ensure that only the most committed employees stay. By making an easy exit a company policy, it gives employees the agency to leave on their own terms and it gives managers the peace of mind to know that underperforming or unhappy employees can part ways without friction.

This is a philosophy that others preach with the other kind of exit-firing. Sebastian Thrun, the co-founder of Google X and President of Udacity, is so dedicated to giving his employees autonomy over their work that he calls his exit policy Project Freedom: “the liberation of individuals from the burden of having to work under me.” Instead of firing employees working for him that are not working out, he liberates them by giving them a new task: to find a new job. Their sole task at work becomes to find a new job where they will be a better fit.

Jobs do not work out for a multitude of reasons, some more to do with cultural fit, some more to do with managerial mismatches. But ultimately it does not matter why the job is not working out, what matters is ensuring that it easier for the employee to take the next step to get to where they need to be.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.