February 2016 I wrote an email to Tony Hsieh who at the time was the CEO of Zappos. I read articles and viewed videos where he discussed his philosophies on business and the management of people while completing my studies for my MBA.
Of the topics he discussed, The Quit Now Bonus fascinated me the most. The idea was that you would give employees an incentive to quit immediately if they felt as though they were trapped or in search of professional opportunities elsewhere.
From a business perspective this killed two birds with one stone. The business would relinquish an employee that no longer wanted to work at the company on good terms with a bonus payment to help them transition to the next phase of their professional life.
From the employees perspective, you couldn’t blame the employer for not giving you an out. And from the employer’s perspective — they couldn’t be seen as trapping you in a contract that you couldn’t get out of. In effect, employers would be helping the employee secure opportunities elsewhere — perhaps even in another state or country by giving you a “quit bonus”.
Thus, from the very beginning, if you took a job at Zappos, there was an unspoken understanding that the relationship was built on the terms of mutual benefit.
Employees would be compensated at a fair wage and benefits and the employer had expectations that you would provide excellent performance and service. If at any point there was a breakdown in trust, and the employee felt they needed to move on professionally, you would give them the incentive to leave immediately rather than languish on with poor performance.
I never expected an email back from Tony, but I wanted to leave him a note thanking him for his efforts. He was letting his ideas become openly shared for public consumption. Which isn’t the easiest thing to do. And because of his ideas and efforts, he was making the lives of business leaders that much more easy by rendering us pieces of his “playbook” on how to manage people.
The toughest thing that you can do in any business is the management of people. Building a motivated workforce that can meet the daily demands of customers while providing excellent communication and customer service is difficult. And, I felt that Tony was running a business in which he understood that building a happy workforce that did not feel trapped or constrained was a key ingredient in building a successful brand and therefore a successful business.
Two weeks later, Tony’s chief of communications emailed me back. He thanked me for my encouraging words and offered me Tony ‘s book for free. The book that he wrote is entitled Delivering Happiness: a path to profits, passion, and purpose.
Sadly, Tony Hsieh passed away November 27, 2020. However, his legacy and achievements in the business world live on. His business philosophies on how to effectively manage people will certainly be studied and mimicked by future business leaders.