We found staff retention secrets in Amazon’s letter to shareholders

Correspondence between CEO Jeff Bezos and his investors reveals management tactics exclusive to the company – but they probably won’t be exclusive much longer

We found staff retention secrets in Amazon’s letter to shareholders
you paid 95% of an employee’s fees for an educational course of their choice, only to have them leave, would you be upset?

At Amazon, it’s just par for the course, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in a public letter to shareholders. In divulging employee management strategies, he mentioned a tactic called ‘Career Choice’.

“[W]e pre-pay 95% of tuition for our employees to take courses for in-demand fields, such as airplane mechanic or nursing, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon,” wrote Bezos. The goal, he said, is to enable choice.

“We know that for some of our fulfillment center employees, Amazon will be a career. For others, Amazon might be a stepping stone on the way to a job somewhere else – a job that may require new skills. If the right training can make the difference, we want to help.”

He also revealed that sub-company Zappos’ notorious method of offering employees bonuses to quit has been expanded throughout Amazon fulfillment centers. Where Zappos offers new hires to take $4,000 to walk away if they don’t love their job, Amazon has tweaked the policy to offer associates a quitting bonus every year. The first year, workers are offered $2,000, and the offer is raised annually until it reaches $5,000.

“We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay,” wrote Bezos. “Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

Bezos also pointed to a flexible working policy whereby employees in more than ten states work from home, providing customers with virtual customer service from the comfort of their own domains.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

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