| Oct 7, 2022

What If You Paid Your Employees to Leave?

When staff are looking for the exit door, incentivizing them to be transparent about their intentions can streamline the hiring process and reduce skills gaps in the business.

The pandemic has opened up a Pandora’s box of talent-acquisition conundrums where companies are not only losing staff but struggling to come up with benefits enticing enough to stem further losses. But what if they did the opposite and paid their employees to leave?

That is exactly what Gorilla76, a Missouri-based industrial marketing agency, is doing. Four years ago, the company came up with the following perk — if an employee shares that they are job hunting in advance, they get a salary bump for the remaining weeks they are at the agency. While initially this bump was 5% for four weeks’ notice, the company has since increased the salary raise to 10% for six weeks’ notice. Once employees share their intention to quit, they must leave the business within three months. 

The move not only fosters greater transparency among the workforce, but also helps the hiring process by giving the business enough time to find and train new staff and maintain a healthy corporate culture. 

Responding to Short Employee Tenures

Jon Franko, the CEO of Gorilla76, says the reasoning behind this perk is quite simple. Unlike past generations where a person may stay with the same employer for decades, it is unrealistic to expect the same commitment from the current workforce. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that, on average, people tend to go through 12 jobs in their lifetime. 

Staff turnover is especially prominent in marketing, where the average employee tenure tends to be two to three years. So Gorilla76 decided to confront the issue head-on and make something good out of it. “The idea behind this benefit is twofold. First, we want to create an environment where people who are ready for something different don’t feel like they have to job-hunt in secrecy. Second, this gives us time to find their replacement,” says Franko. 

“In a perfect world, it will also give us some overlap between the two employees so that the departing employee can train the new hire and get them up to speed.” 

The raise, Franko admits, is symbolic. If someone is making $60k a year, a 10% salary increase for the final six weeks of their employment would amount to almost $700. But that’s a good monthly bonus for being transparent with the business. 

Building a Strong Corporate Culture

Franko initially spoke of this initiative on his LinkedIn profile and, he says, it spurred some interesting discussions. One of those was around how the raise makes other employees feel about their own salaries. 

“We only want to work with people who really want to be at Gorilla. Some people are wondering if the raise makes the people who stay mad because they aren’t getting the 10% raise, but they’re completely missing the point,” Franko says. “Those who want to be here appreciate all the other benefits, they appreciate the vacation time, and they love their job. 

“If anything, the initiative helps those who don’t want to be here exit faster. Everyone’s talking about quiet quitting right now and this initiative helps fight that by encouraging people to speak up.” 

Gorilla76 isn’t the first business to use cash incentives to encourage possible quitters to resign. Over a decade ago, Zappos launched an initiative dubbed “The Offer” whereby employees who had been on the job for only a week received a bonus if they decided to quit there and then. Initially set at $500, the offer today sits at $2,000

Similarly, Trainual, an Arizona-based software company, offers a $5,000 bonus for employees who decide to quit after two weeks on the job. The goal is for this cash incentive to weed out any employees who simply don’t want to be there anymore. In turn, this helps the business build a strong corporate culture and a thriving workforce that loves what they do.


Retention is Still Priority No.1

Like other businesses, Gorilla76 is struggling with retention. Even though their turnover rate of 26% is lower than the industry average of almost 30%, the agency is implementing a number of other perks and benefits to bring this number down to 15%.

Aside from an annual budget of $1500 per employee for training and development, employees receive either a salary increase or a lump-sum bonus twice a year. The agency also puts an increased focus on streamlining their hiring process in order to avoid issues with a poor culture fit.

“We’re focusing a lot more on the front end of the hiring process, making sure we’re getting the right people because for every person that wants to leave, we also have one or two people that we have to ask to leave because we weren’t the right fit [for them],” says Franko. 

The pandemic heralded a set of new perks, including fully remote work, not tracking sick-leave days, 100% insurance cover, and unlimited time off for employees who have been with the business for over seven years. All of this, Franko believes, has contributed to marked improvements in their NPS score and an increase in their average employee tenure. 

Incentivizing People to Stay … and Leave

The workplace has never been in such a state of flux where employees, perhaps for the first time in history, seem to have the upper hand in negotiations. However, that doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t strive for building a strong and committed workforce that buys into the vision of the business and wants to contribute to its realization. 

To that end, business leaders can be truly proactive in how they incentivize people to stay, but also how they leave. Rather than focusing only on drawing people in, they can put mechanisms in place that will encourage those who are less committed to seek opportunities elsewhere. It is one way to keep a happy and thriving workforce, and by extension, a thriving business. 

Opinion Contributor, Strixus

Freelance writer specializing in B2B tech, future of work, and executive leadership. view profile


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