5 Questions: Should Amazon Employees Take the Company Offer (10K, 3 Months Pay) to Quit?

I’ll give you $10,000 and 3 months of pay if you quit today and do something else. 

Who’s interested? Everyone!

Who takes me up on my offer? Well, that’s where it gets interesting. Amazon van

If the whole “we’ll pay you to quit” sounds familiar, it was the rarified air of the HR culture darling, Zappos.com.  We loved Zappos back in the day for a variety of things, including their offer to pay new hires to quit early in their tenure.  Here’s how the thinking went – if you’re not sure this is for you, we’ll pay you to eliminate the cultural misfit and just go.

The Zappos offer to pay you to quit was child’s play. Amazon saw that offer and said, “Hold my beer.”

In case you missed it, Amazon was in the news again late last week with a Godfather offer (you can’t refuse) to employees designed to create momentum to build the delivery capability needed to meet its future needs. The offer was this - 10K and 3 month’s pay for any employee who will quit and start a franchised delivery business under the Amazon partnership umbrella.  Here’s the details of the announcement:

The company announced they will pay two to three months salary and $10,000 in startup costs if an employee will quit their post and start a package delivery service. The company wants to make good on its promise to Prime members to cut delivery time in half from two days to one.

The offer is open to most part-time and full-time Amazon employees, including warehouse workers who pack and ship orders. The employee still has to be accepted into this program, and the company did not share how many people they think will apply and be accepted.

Newly anointed entrepreneurs can lease blue vans with the Amazon smile logo on it. The company estimates someone who owns 20 to 40 delivery vans can potentially earn $300,000 a year.

You have to admit, that’s kind of cool.  But it’s a trap for many of the Amazon employees who hear the offer and think being their own boss is a path that’s for them.

That’s because the business those employees would be entering under the Amazon partnership umbrella isn’t a delivery business, it’s actually a people management business.  CBS news did the math last year and reported that to make low six figure as an owner of this business, you’d need to employ at least 20 full-time equivalents per year.

Danger!! (Siren sound in the background)

Not sure whether the offer is for you, Amazon employees?  Fear not, because I’m here with an uber-simple 5-item questionnaire designed to help you understand whether you should quit your Amazon job and start a delivery business once you’ve been accepted into the Amazon “lease some vans and start a business” incubator. 

Answer the following questions “yes” or “no”:

  1. Have you ever thought your manager was a complete dipshit related to business savvy?
  2. Do you actively avoid dealing with some people at work?
  3. Have you ever been asked to be part of an interview process for open positions and thought, “I’m too busy” or “that’s not my job”?
  4. Do you ever vent to your spouse for long periods of time about co-workers?
  5. Have you ever had a co-worker vent to you and refused to get involved in whatever issue they had, either directly (telling them you didn’t want to get involved) or indirectly (waiting for them to finish their rant and excusing yourself as softly as you could)?

Score your answers in the following way:

--0-1“yes” answers: This Amazon offer might be for you.

--2-3 “yes” answers: You shouldn’t quit your day job. You’ll likely start well in your Amazon delivery franchise, only to grow disenchanted, look back and see year one was by far the best year of your delivery business.

--4-5 “yes” answers: Run away. You’re going to burn the f###ing trucks by month six, end up in jail for arson, insurance fraud and divorced.

The Amazon deliver business is a “people” business. Don’t be fooled by the vans, the cool scanners and the Amazon tech stack.  If you don’t enjoy (or can’t tolerate) the people side of business, you have NO SHOT at employing/retaining 20-40 full-time drivers in 2019, with America at peak economic cycle, hourly employees employed at their next job 3-7 days after quitting on you, and the 200 ways people will disappoint you in a given day and force you to engage them directly.

I hope Amazon will evaluate you for inclusion into the program with this in mind. 

But you might just have decent credit and be able to float a note for 20 leased vans.

Unless you passed my 5-question quiz with flying colors, stay on the Amazon payroll. As hard as life is there, it’s safer for you.


Chill Out: It Really Doesn't Matter Where Your Kids Go to College...

I've got a senior in High School, and you know what that means - time for admission envy, parental handwringing and everything that goes with along with that.

Sarah's going to Vanderbilt/Harvard/Stanford.  Man, I wish my kid would have worked harder...

I get it - we all want more for our kids. To the extent they've worked hard, we want them to go to the best school.  When that doesn't happen, we start worrying, because not being admitted to a top school is a classic 1st World problem. The volume gets amped up when your kid is a high performer and can't even get a sniff to a top school with a 4.4 GPA and a 32 ACT.  See this post (spend more time on the comments from parents who feel they've been wronged) for some crazy stories, accusations of unfairness and helicopter parents losing their minds.

It's easy to understand your paranoia.  If the school your kid is going to isn't up to par in your mind, or if you think he/she has been wronged by an admissions process, it's easy to rant and wish for more. C-siue

Until you figure out the following 2 things:

1--Comparison is the thief of joy, and more importantly;

2--By the time your kid has his second job and/or 5 years into the world of work, it's not going to matter where he/she went to school.

Couple of things to offer up. First, consider this study that estimates the economic return of attending an elite college, a summary of which appears below:

Stacy Dale, a mathematician, and Alan Krueger, an economist, collaborated in two large-scale research studies (Dale & Kruger, 2002 & 2014) in which they effectively controlled for the background characteristics of students attending colleges that varied in selectivity (based on average SAT scores of the entering class). The first study was of students entering college in 1976, and the second was of those entering in 1989. Essentially, their question in both studies was this: If people are matched in socioeconomic background and pre-existing indices of their academic ability and motivation, will those who go to an elite college make more money later in life than those who go to a less elite one? The overall result was that the college attended made no difference. Other things being equal, attending an elite school resulted in no income advantage over attending a less elite school, neither in the short term nor in the long term. 

The key, of course, is students matched in socioeconomic background, academic ability and motivation.  Match kids up by those factors, and there's no outcome difference in attending Kennesaw State vs Georgia Tech (Atlanta example, plug your own in for your area of the US).

And when it comes to the factors considered, give me motivation over the other factors once a decent level of academic ability is present.  The average GPA of millionaires is said to be 2.9 - I'll be back with more on that later this week.

I see it all the time as a recruiter - people from elite universities with average careers, and people from schools I've never heard of killing it and running the world.

I was blessed to have my first son do the minimum at a really good high school to get a 3.7 GPA and mail in a high 20's GPA.  So my expectations are managed, that's easy when your kid knows not to apply to elite schools.  But he was an absolute grinder in other things in his HS years, so I know he has a shot via transferred motivation to do great things and outperform a 34 or higher ACT.

I'm a recruiter by trade. If you're still recovering from your son or daughter going to the state school, chill out. He or she has a 50/50 shot to outperform the kid of the mom who stuck the Stanford admission in your face.  But only if they grind and the motivation is greater than their peer group.

BONUS - Video below shows a kid wanting Ivy and coming to the realization it's University of Illinois (from Risky Business, click through if you don't see the video player).


CHRO Briefing: WalMart/CVS Battle Shows Why Amazon is coming to Rx Business...

Here's your latest CHRO briefing that matters:

CVS and WalMart have agreed to laid down their weapons, reaching agreement and ending a dispute would have prevented some CVS Caremark customers from picking up their prescriptions at Walmart pharmacies.

Walmart and CVS didn't reveal the terms of their new agreement in a joint statement. CVS had said that Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, wanted to raise the cost of Amazon rxfilling prescriptions by too much.

The dispute could have affected about $4 billion worth of prescriptions, according to an estimate from Eric Coldwell, an analyst at Baird. It also would have prevented CVS customers from picking up scripts from 4,700 WalMart locations.

Of course, the real briefing is this --If you don't think that's Amazon's coming to severely hamper CVS and similar Rx companies by getting into the Rx game themselves, you're not paying attention.

In case you missed it, leading online retailer Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) acquired PillPack in June 2018, an online pharmacy service that allows customers to purchase medications in pre-made doses.  Walmart was also a contender to buy PillPack but lost out to Amazon's better offer. Closely following the PillPack purchase, Amazon announced a program that will include prescription deliveries through its Prime membership program. 

You know there's always a new play annually when it comes to help you get cost out of your benefits program.  You've seen that with the trends you now know well - managed acute care, tele-doc, mail order Rx, etc.

Someday soon, Amazon's going to have a path to offer you a 20% reduction in your company's Rx spend.  It's only being slowed by realities like Aetna being owned by CVS, which muddies the competitive landscape for Amazon to navigate to make becoming your Rx provider of choice a reality.

But Amazon's coming. They might have to buy an retail Rx firm to get it done, but with the aging of the USA that seems like a prudent investment.


Know Your Numbers, HR and Talent Pros: The US/China Trade Deficit...

I know, the whole thing about the wall is sexy to talk about. Caravans of immigrants!  Tear gas! The Government Shutdown won't be resolved until the wall debate is resolved!

Meanwhile, there's another issue that's playing out that arguably more important than immigration for HR and Talent Pros: Trade with China. Trade wars

The USA had a $375 BILLION dollar trade deficit with China in 2017.  Trump said he was going to play hardball with China, and for the most part, that's exactly what's happened.  Other than knowing that the trade deficit was $375B in 2017, here's a laundry list of what has gone on in the last 4-5 months to catch you up so you look smart as an HR/Talent/Recruiting pro when you're talking to operations people:

1--The Trump administration hit China with the first round of tariffs, designed to punish China economically for not coming to the table on a serious of free trade issues, including IP theft from American companies in addition to the dollar amount of the deficit. (Jan-March 2018)

2--China hit back with their own round of tariffs vs the US. (April 2018)

3. The US hit China with a second round of tariffs when China chose not to come to the table, China retaliates with more tariffs of their own. (June-August 2018)

4. Officials from both countries meet and agree to a cease fire related to additional tariffs announced and planned beyond those already in place, agreeing to keep negotiations alive. (December 2018)

5- China blinks first, offering U.S. trade negotiators a six-year boost in imports totaling 1 trillion dollars. (January 2018)

It's safe to say that no administration has hit the Chinese as hard on trade as Trump.  If you hate him, that's cool. Just know the China trade issue is important to win on. There's probably no bigger issue economically to take on, and it seems prudent to pick that fight when the economy is strong by GDP-style metrics.

Couple of other data points on trade with China for you. Jim Cramer of CNBC reports that tech executives support the tough stance, even if they can't say it publicly at the risk of showing support for Trump.  More from CNBC:

Technology executives are telling CNBC's Jim Cramer that they're willing to endure short-term pain from the U.S.-China trade war in favor of the long-term payoff.

"When I went out to San Francisco last week, I heard the same thing from a surprising number of people in the tech industry who do not like President [Donald] Trump one bit," the "Mad Money" host said Monday.

"What they said was 'If we're going to take on China, now's the time to do it,'" he said. "They may not be fans of the president, but they're on board with the trade war."

Part of the reason could be tied to the pain points emerging in China's economy, Cramer said. On Sunday, Chinese government data revealed that China's overall December exports fell by 4.4 percent and imports sank by 7.6 percent year over year. The data also showed the largest trade surplus with the United States in more than a decade.

"This harsher-than-expected view ... may be more realistic than you think" when it comes to how tech leaders feel about China's unfair trade practices, Cramer said.

And finally, this tweet from Brad Setser shows how hard it is to reset the trade imbalance without fundamentally changing where things like smartphones are made, or at least assembled:

Ready to pay more for that smartphone or pair of AirPods?  I thought not.  That's why the 1 Trillion in additional USA purchases by China - or something like it - will have to happen.

Winning the trade war with China is more important than the wall, but gets 1/100th of the coverage.


Nothing Says "Sell Your Stocks" More Than Corporate Events That Feature This...

You know you're living in a peak economic cycle when you go to a corporate event, and the entertainment rivals old Rome in the Coliseum. 

Lions. Tigers. Potential loss of life.  ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Email subscribers, click through to the site if you don't  see the Instagram video embedded below. OC Tanner, by all counts a fine, outstanding recognition firm (trying like everyone else in the game to become a cloud-based technology firm) had an analyst event last September in Snowbird, UT.

The video is of some ski stunt jumpers doing something like 15 flips in a row - no snow, so they land in a pool of water.

An HR Capitalist correspondent was there and met at least one of the jumpers, who was on the last US Winter Olympic team.

Post recession, you had a crappy DJ at your company event.

Peak economic cycle? You better get an Olympian risking his life for the mob to the tune of Ozzy's Crazy Train.  After all, that transition to becoming a cloud-based company just doesn't happen. Bells and whistles are needed.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?  Make sure you pick up our goodie bag with a t-shirt and a flash drive before you leave the park.

And yes, we all saw this and left our investment accounts in 90% equities.  No shocker the market dropped hard in Q4 when we saw this at the end of Q3.


Class Warfare in the Workplace Notes - WeWork in NYC and Office Depot Coworking Space...

If you're late looking into the whole "coworking" space thing, it's probably time you at least became knowledgable at a surface level, because things are changing fast my friends.

How fast you ask?  I offer the following 2 items to illustrate the pace of change in this area and who is absolutely getting rocked.

1.  WeWork is about to become the biggest private office tenant in Manhattan. If it leases just another 74,000-square foot office — a typical size for WeWork — it will be bigger than JPMorgan Chase, currently the biggest office occupant in New York’s Manhattan market.

Let that soak in a bit, people. If you need help understanding where this is going, remember Uber.  You thought that s**t was weird one time too, didn't you?  The fact that WeWork (coworking giant, hater of meat) is set to become the biggest landlord in NYC is crazy.  

Here's what that means for you - companies with less than 100 people everywhere are going to hedge their bets and not secure office space - they'd much rather pass the lease risk to providers like WeWork.  Get rid of the lease, have your employees work from home and give them a basic WeWork subscription so they stop whining about being at home all the time.

It's only a matter of time until WeWork and it's competitors get deep into all the 50 top markets in the US. 

2. Here's another sign that things are a changing my friends. Office Depot is converting some of their space to coworking space.  More from Fast Company:

In the latest sign of the ongoing retail apocalypse, Office Depot has been forced to pick up a part-time job.

The company announced today that it is piloting its first-ever coworking space, neatly integrated into its Los Gatos, California, retail location. Yes, that means you can pull up to Office Depot and work alongside real office supplies. It sounds perfect for road warriors who are tired of working in their cars or, you know, anyone priced out of Staples’s coworking space.

While working at an Office Depot sounds like a beige-carpeted version of hell, on the plus side, you’ll never run out of toner and will always be able to find a pen when you need one. How that will stack up against WeWork’s onsite gym, The Wing’s on-demand blowouts, and Servcorp’s private jets is TBD.

The coworking space comes as the company expands its Workonomy platform in a bid to be less reliant on retail revenue. In addition to the new coworking concept, Workonomy also includes services like DIY copying, printing, packing, and shipping as well as a new line of tech-support kiosks that will offer “direct, on-demand access to Office Depot’s technology experts,” and whatever it takes to survive in the current retail landscape.

It's hard to get my head around wanting to go in to an Office Depot and get some work done.  But if society is going to convert to coworking spaces, everyone needs a place to go, I guess.  

In retail, the masses shop at WalMart.  The rich people avoid WalMart.

When eating, the masses go to Applebee's.  The rich people avoid Applebee's.

What about coworking?  The trendy people will be at WeWork. The professional grade people without a WeWork subscription will still head to Starbucks and feel fine.  I'm guessing everyone else goes to Office Depot.  Feels like a lot of laid off people are going to end up at Office Depot before they figure it out.

Pictures of Office Depot and WeWork coworking space appear below (in that order) so you can get your head around the class warfare to come in our new world of work.

My favorite part of the Office Depot space is that retirees confused by laptops will browse and peer over at me, like I'm a Lion at the Zoo.

"That's right, retired Boomer.  I'm sitting in here and in total control of my laptop, while you can't find help to answer your questions."

Don't you dare ask me for my take on the best laptop.  Can't you see I'm coworking?  Damn.

Office depot
Office depot

 


Lessons for HR: A PhD on Netflix Revenue and Spending...

 "The goal, is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

--------------------------------

Simple task from the HRC today.  Watch this six minute video below and get a PhD on the Netflix spending spree on original shows and how it justifies burning money as they grow the subscriber base.

Netflix is pretty good at the pivot.  Lots to learn here... (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below)

 More on the economics of Netflix in this Wired article from 2017 as well...


"No Poach" Recruiting Agreements Continue to Fall Across Corporate America...

If you've been in the business world long enough, you've ran into executives at both small and big companies making agreements to not recruit other company's employees.  These agreements are a by-product of the good-ole-boy network and usually the result of one executive knowing another and agreeing to keep each other's companies "off-limits" to recruiting efforts.

It's called collusion, right?  Funny thing is, HR has never really had a voice in that.  Instead, we find out what the agreement is "ex post facto" and if we're really lucky, we get to ruin someone's life by retracting an offer due to these informal agreements - after that employee has already resigned at their current company. Trading places

It's always been stupid like that.  The good news is that the legal system is rapidly taking these agreements off the table.  First it was Silicon Valley and now seven fast food chains — including Arby's, Cinnabon and McDonald's — have pledged to end so-called "no-poaching" rules that have prevented employees from moving from one franchise to another within the same restaurant chain: More from CNN:

"Washington state's Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday the agreement could end the practice at roughly 25,000 restaurants nationwide.

The move will mean fairer hiring practices for "tens of thousands of low-wage" workers in the United States, Ferguson's office said. His office also said it will take legal action against franchises that violate the agreement, and the companies could face civil penalties or fines.

The fast food chains included in the agreement are Arby's, Auntie Anne's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl's Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John's, and McDonald's (MCD).

"No-poach" rules bar workers at franchise-owned restaurants from being hired by a separate franchise within the same chain.

Because such rules are usually laid out in company-franchise contracts, and not in worker agreements, employees have often been unaware they existed, Ferguson's office said."

Uh, yeah - the employees didn't know they existed because they are LITERALLY THE LAST THING ON ANYONE'S MIND IN THESE AGREEMENTS.

The no-poach agreement will continue to exist in pockets, but I've got good news for my HR leaders who are expected to enforce them.

You can now tell your company they are illegal as hell.

Score one for the worker.  I'm generally pro-business, but c'mon.  A no-poach agreement that means a counter worker at Arby's can't move to another Arby's?

This is why we can't have nice things.


Are HR Pros A Good Fit to Start an Amazon Partner Delivery Business?

If there's one thing HR Pros know plenty about, it's recruiting, retention and everything it takes to keep a business afloat on the people side of the business.   That mean in some aspects of life, HR pros are the perfect people to start a business.  But there's one big thing missing for a lot of HR pros are thinking about starting a business.

Sales.

Yep, a lot of HR pros would be great at the staffing and employee relations side of the business, but they have nothing in their DNA to do the sales required to provide the lifeblood of revenue needed to put those people skills to use as an entrepreneur.  Too bad, right?

Wait - there's a perfect opportunity for HR pros to start a business and not have to sell.  Ready?

Amazon. Amazon shipping

That's right, Amazon.  The online force that's eating everything launched a new program last week that helps people in the United States start their own businesses delivering Amazon packages.

Hmm.  More on the Program from USA Today:

Amazon wants you to deliver its packages for them.

The online retailer launched a new program this week that helps people in the United States start their own businesses delivering Amazon packages. The move gives Amazon another way to ship its packages to shoppers besides relying on UPS, FedEx and other package delivery services.

Amazon.com Inc. says startup costs begin at $10,000, and the businesses created under the program would operate 20 to 40 vans and employ between 40 and 100 people.

Here's what else to know:

WHO IT'S FOR: Amazon says those with little or no logistics experience can apply. And existing package delivery businesses can sign up, too. If they are approved to join the program, Amazon says those businesses can continue to deliver packages for other companies.

HOW DOES IT WORK: Those interested first need to apply at its website,logistics.amazon.com. The company will vet applicants and figure out if they're the right fit. There's also three weeks of training, including a trip to Amazon headquarters in Seattle, which you'll pay for as part of the startup costs. At the training, Amazon says you'll learn about its shipping operations and spend time in the field with an existing delivery provider.

WHAT AMAZON PROVIDES: Amazon says it will offer support to the businesses, including discounts on insurance, technology and other services. Amazon-branded vans will be available to lease and Amazon-branded uniforms can be bought for drivers. But keep in mind that those vans can only be used to deliver Amazon packages.

WHAT TO KNOW: The new business would be responsible for hiring staff, and Amazon would be the customer, paying for the deliveries.

WHERE DO I HAVE TO BE LOCATED?: Amazon says opportunities are available near its 75 delivery stations across the country. A map is available at logistics.amazon.com./marketing/getting-started.

What I love about this for the right type of HR pro is what I have already described.  Many of you are great at the hustle it takes to get a business staffed up, dealing with employee relations issues of all types and generally grinding out the workday through the at times dirty business of people. 

What I hate about this opportunity for HR pros is that as good as you would be at this, the Achilles heel for most of you/us - sales - would ultimately come back to haunt you. 

Amazon is setting people who can't sell up for failure.

Amazon has the demand.  They need you to start this business.

They need you to contribute to the gig economy.  Not by being a gig employee, but by being an employer of gig employees.

No co-employment issues on their part.  You take those!  

Pricing power belongs to... not you - Amazon.  You get selected for the program, start your business and then the inevitable happens.  Amazon has a variety of partners, and you'll be asked to take a reduced price for delivery at some point.  Your margins and profitability will fall until - you guessed it - it no longer makes sense for you to run your (Amazon) Delivery Business.

Because you aren't a salesperson, you don't have a lot of revenue options and as it turns out - you're contributed to the further destabilization of the American workforce by creating a company that has jobs - but they're on-demand, gig economy jobs.

Meh.  Maybe you should just stay in HR.

To date, Amazon has largely steered clear of the criticism heaped upon WalMart related to destroying the traditional economy.  

That feels like it's about to change.  Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys resistant/stupid when it comes to macroeconomic change.


Dice 2018 Tech Salary Report: Are Tech Wages Really Flat?

One of the best salary surveys that you will find from a vendor is the Dice Tech Salary Report.  See the 2018 version - released last week - by clicking here.

We're in a peak economic cycle, so surprisingly, the report finds that average tech salaries are flat, and have been for a couple of years now.  For many of you, it doesn't feel like tech wages are flat, does it?  (note, email subscribers enable images or click through to see graphs).  Here's your chart of average tech wages:

Dice1

But the survey confirms what we all know below.  If you want to steal a tech talent of ever average happiness from another employer, the most important thing is still MORE MONEY (see survey responses about what's most important to tech talent when changing employer below.  It's not the juice bar or your "culture"):

Dice2

But of course, the average for all tech skills isn't 93K, now is it?  Here's your top 10 paying skills/languages below, count how many you had ever heard of before for fun.  I got to 7, and note that just because these are the top paying doesn't mean that candidate volume is high.  

Dice3

Finally, the Dice survey confirms what we probably already knew - the best way for a tech guy/gal to get paid more is to <shudder> manage people.  Like sports, that probably means the people in your development shop that get paid the most aren't the people with the best coding skills, they're the people willing to put up with all the bull** from people and attempt to find the best path forward related to all the personalities.  Biggest jump in the graph below isn't to simply lead a team, it's to be a manager for a group of teams in a bigger development shop.  Note the jump from that level to being in charge of the whole thing isn't much.  I'd chalk that up to the fact that being a "head of department" in a smaller tech shop is the same thing as being a "manager of a group of teams.

Dice4

Great data here by Dice, put together from direct responses from over 10,000 tech pros.  See the whole report - released last week - by clicking here.

Raise your hand if you feel like wages are flat.  LOL.  I trust the data, but all pain is local, right?