Zappos Will Give You $3000 to Get Your Priorities Straight

Psychologist Dan Ariely says Zappos' policy of offering potential customer service employees $3000 not to take the job is money well spent. 

Zappos Will Give You $3000 to Get Your Priorities Straight

What’s the Big Idea?

Having trouble figuring out what you want to be when you grow up? The online shoestore Zappos can help you figure out what you don’t want to be. According to psychologist Dan Ariely, Zappos’ policy of offering potential hires $3000 not to take the job is smart psychology and money well spent. It weeds out candidates who are in it for the paycheck (a very small paycheck at that - “the offer” applies only to low-paying customer service positions) and invigorates the rest with a sense of purpose. It intensifies their commitment to the company.

The question, says Ariely, is why startups like Zappos are the only ones trying out innovative strategies like this one. Compensation and motivation, he says, are the two key pieces of the employee puzzle that companies need to get right. They can make or break a business. Yet big corporations continue to rely on “compensation advisors,” who basically tell them what other companies are paying their employees.




What’s the Significance?

At the same time as jobs are becoming increasingly scarce in formerly robust economies, the notion of “work” is undergoing a radical change worldwide. Although they’ve graduated into in a “buyer’s market,” millennial workers are demanding more from their work lives. Recognizing that, when you add up the hours, work is life to a great extent, they want greater synergy between their on and off-hours selves and careers that mean more to them than just a paycheck (though they want the paycheck, too). Scoff if you will about beggars being choosers, but the dizzying rate at which these workers quit jobs leaves employers bleeding human resources and training dollars, and wondering how to build a lasting workforce.

Rethinking employee compensation and motivation along psychological lines – taking into account that human motivation isn’t just a numbers game – is a good place to start. Taking employees’ diverse needs seriously, and meeting them as compensation for their time, energy, and passion, is a smart way to ensure that your company – and your economy – isn’t run by hyper-competitive ladder-climbers whose focus is solely on the most expedient route to power.

This post is part of the series Inside Employees' Minds, presented by Mercer.

Weird science shows unseemly way beetles escape after being eaten

Certain water beetles can escape from frogs after being consumed.

R. attenuata escaping from a black-spotted pond frog.

Surprising Science
  • A Japanese scientist shows that some beetles can wiggle out of frog's butts after being eaten whole.
  • The research suggests the beetle can get out in as little as 7 minutes.
  • Most of the beetles swallowed in the experiment survived with no complications after being excreted.
Keep reading Show less

Stressed-out mothers are twice as likely to give birth to a girl

New research from the University of Granada found that stress could help determine sex.

Photo: Romolo Tavani / Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • A new study found that women with elevated stress before, during, and after conception are twice as likely to deliver a girl.
  • One factor could be that sperm carrying an X chromosome are better equipped to reach the egg under adverse conditions.
  • Another factor could be miscarriage of male fetuses during times of stress.
  • Keep reading Show less

    The cost of world peace? It's much less than the price of war

    The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

    Mario Tama/Getty Images
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
    • That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
    • Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
    • Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
    • Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
    Keep reading Show less
    Surprising Science

    The evolution of modern rainforests began with the dinosaur-killing asteroid

    The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.

    Quantcast