In a Harvard Business Review blog post examining this practice at Zappos back in 2008, author and Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor says the quit money (it was $1,000 per employee back then) worked out costing less than the online shoe retailer would have lost if unmotivated employees put the brakes on its fast-paced corporate culture. “Zappos wants to learn if there’s a bad fit between what makes the organization tick and what makes individual employees tick–and it’s willing to pay to learn sooner rather than later,” Taylor says.
In Amazon’s case, the aim is the same. “The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want,” Bezos explains. “In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”