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Would you take $5,000 to quit your job? Amazon banks on it

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduces the new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire on September 28, 2011 in New York City. The Fire, which will be priced at $199, is an expanded version of the company’s Kindle e-reader that has 8GB of storage and WiFi. The Fire gives users access to streaming video, as well as e-books, apps and music, and has a Web browser. In addition to the Fire, Bezos introduced four new Kindles including a Kindle touch model.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduces the new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire on September 28, 2011 in New York City.

Say you're a warehouse worker at Amazon, not too happy with your job and thinking about quitting. The company offers you $5,000 to walk away. Sounds like a great deal, right?

Say you're a warehouse worker at Amazon, not too happy with your job and thinking about quitting. The company offers you $5,000 to walk away. Sounds like a great deal, right?

The program, called Pay to Quit, offers Amazon workers who aren't committed to their jobs $2,000 in severance pay in the first year of employment, going up to $5,000 in the fourth year.

The existence of the program went public in a letter that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wrote to shareholders in 2013 released last week. The method behind the madness is that Amazon, which got the idea from Zappos, wants its workers to be happy, and therefore encourages employees who would rather not be there to leave.

Bezos said the intent is not to get rid of employees - the program actually has the headline 'Please Don't Take This Offer' - but to ensure that the employees who stay are happy and committed to their jobs.

According to a recent study by Gallup, employees who are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" in their jobs cost the US economy $450 billion to $550 billion a year in lost productivity.

It sounds like a good deal for both sides but what happens when the money runs out? With unemployment still high, particularly in California, is it a good idea to take a small payoff to be back in the job market? How much would be enough to get you to quit your job? Would employees get a bigger payoff by getting themselves fired instead?

Guest: 

John Boudreau, Ph.D., Professor and Research Director at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations; co-author of 'Beyond HR: The New Science of Human Capital'

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