Welcome to Amazon, How Would You Like to Be Fired?

Man sitting at table with head in hands.

If you’re an employee who is struggling every single day on the job, what are your options? Typically, your choices are: quit before you’re fired, work until you’re fired, or work under close scrutiny on a performance improvement plan (PIP). Quite honestly, none of those seem appealing. The good news is that some companies are realizing these options aren’t the greatest for employees (or employee morale), so they’re offering other options.

Amazon recently acknowledged that last year, they were quick to fire people. With dysfunctional teams and poorly defined roles taking their toll on the Amazonian workforce of over 500,000, execs thought employees facing termination should have options, including pleading their case in front of a jury of their peers.

Though it may seem great to have the chance to share your grievances with the people who would understand the most, only about 30% of employees who choose this route win –meaning they get to keep their job. But don’t worry – if those odds seem scary, there are other options. Amazon also offers the option to quit and take severance pay, or go on a performance improvement plan. Whichever path employees choose, the process is meant to address poor performance in a better way than Amazon has in the past.

Another company offering a better exit strategy is Zappos. A few years ago, Zappos (a subsidiary of Amazon) adapted a new management structure, where there was no structure. They got rid of hierarchies and job titles, leaving people without managers and a lot of autonomy.  While this might sound like a good thing, a lot of employees disliked this new form of management, or lack thereof. So, Zappos offered an out – severance pay of at least 3 months if an employee decided to quit by a certain date. 14% of the Zappos workforce quit.

While these are just two examples in a shifting attitude towards firing, it may be the start of a new trend. With talent harder to come by, employers are going to have to step up their game to improve morale and their image. After all, wouldn’t you choose the company that pays out when things go south instead of one that would leave you hanging?

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