Supposedly money is synonymous with freedom, and freedom is synonymous with the greenback. As the corporate culture of yesterday is being transformed by a more laissez faire approach, we’re witnessing major innovations in the way workers are managed and manage themselves. To little surprise these experiments are spearheaded by Google, Amazon, Facebook and the upcoming future corporate regimes of Silicon Valley. Beyond the free lunches, mandatory meditation sessions, sleep pods, and on-campus doggie day care a truly insightful psychological paradigm has come to the forefront: paying people not to show up.
When I was 16 and with nothing better to do, I decided to take my acoustic guitar and busk in the underground tube network of the London public transport system. I strummed and sang to my heart’s content, subjecting the masses to my experiment of public humiliation. A man who simply couldn’t take it anymore presented me with a five-pound note pleading me to stop. I was sold.
Some would interpret this as rude, especially coming from Englishman. For me, it was comedy. No one has heard my Captain Beefheart impersonation since. (You’re welcome.)
It is well known that in Silicon Valley companies will pay workers up to $5,000 to quit, to leave, pack-it-all-in, and move onto something better. This is not to encourage people to leave, but rather to encourage a motivated and energized working environment. Why? Because bad attitudes are contagious and cost far more that $5K. (Cue Neil Young and “The Needle and the Damage Done.”)
It’s brilliant when you really think about it. What if all companies employed such practices? What if the postal service did? The government? The White House?!?
What it people could actually pay not be served by a certain individual or, better yet, pay more to be served by someone they like? It’s a “want as a service” model where I can pay someone to not play music in my ear unwarranted, to change lanes to let another driver pass on the expressway, or to shut up during a movie.
Ok I’ll stop dreaming, but it’s fun to think about.
I tip my hat to those employee “Pay to Quit” policies as it is this type of innovation that should be coming out of our own government, but alas only private enterprise and retail can truly execute. Well done Amazon and Zappos!