Posted by Megan Neale
Employee engagement has assumed paramount importance in recent times, as board rooms are waking up to that undeniable link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and that of customer satisfaction with bottom line growth. Every year millions are being invested in schemes and programs to boost employee morale, drive productivity and in effect, contribute to business growth.
And when it comes to ‘employee engagement’ very few companies have managed to stay as innovative and effective as Amazon. It’s CEO Jeff Bezos, in the company’s last annual report revealed some of their employee initiative, the most ‘unusual being the Pay to Quit program. The program started at Amazon-owned Zappos and the parent company adopted it for its fulfilment centres. The concept is simple – Amazon will offer to pay it’s people to quit their jobs (say what?). Delivered with the headline ‘Please Don’t Take This Offer’, Pay-to-Quit starts at an offer of $2,000 the first year, then it goes up by a thousand dollars every year till it reaches $5,000. While this practice may seem counter-intuitive, it is backed by a strong reasoning that employees who are happy in their current roles wouldn’t leave the business. And that it forces them to think about their long term goals and what they want out of their lives. According to Amazon, the cost of retaining dissatisfied employees (who may harm the business) outweighs the probable costs of running this program. The company also maintains only around 2%-3% of its employees actually take the offer.
I think this is employee engagement at its finest – not only does it empower Amazon to identify its ‘dissatisfied’ staff, but I am almost certain they have built an ‘engagement program’ off the back of this to try and address their issues and retain them. Such initiatives also indicate that the business is backed by a ‘gutsy’ and confident management who is not afraid to experiment or face up to some hard decisions, if and when the need arises.
At HGS, we have been implementing innovative employee programs backed by a recruitment strategy of hiring people for a career rather than a job. This includes building a bespoke career path and a mentoring program for every individual, allowing them to reach their full potential and progress their career along with the business. This practice of ‘helping you grow along with the business’ is what made us ‘North West Employer of the Year’ in the UK last year. We need to do more and keep innovating – and definitely companies like Amazon are inspiring us with ideas every single day.
Photo by Adam Matan, licensed under Creative Commons