US games developer pays unhappy employees $25,000 to quit

US games developer pays unhappy employees $25,000 to quit

A games developer in the US is offering its new employees up to $US25,000 ($A26,630) cash to quit their jobs if they are unhappy.

It’s the latest innovative human resources move to come out of the States, after US coffee giant Starbucks recently announced it would pay its staff to attend university.

Riot Games, the developer of popular PC game League of Legends, last week announced its ‘Queue Dodge’ program, which will allow unhappy new staff members to elect to quit their job within their first 60 days and be paid out 10% of their annual salary, up to $25,000.

While Riot Games has an Australian arm located in Sydney, the program is currently only open to staff in the US.

“Now, we don’t want to actively push people out or dare them to leave, but we do want to provide a well-lit, safe exit path,” says a statement on the Riot games website.

The reason, according to the statement, is twofold: firstly, to reinforce the company’s culture and, secondly, to backstop the hiring process.

“From the beginning, we’ve focused on culture. We operate on a foundation of shared mission, values, passion, trust, and mutual respect. If someone gags on the unique flavour of our culture, they’d be doing themselves and the company a disservice to hang on just for the paycheck,” said Riot Games.  

“Culturally aligned people and teams are more effective, and alignment around mission and values allows us to better serve players. We’ve designed Queue Dodge to help self-identified mismatches move on in an open, positive, and constructive way.”

Riot Games said that despite its rigorous interview process, it can’t ensure a great employee fit every single time.

“Rather than allow mismatches to fester, we want to resolve them quickly. This is good for the company, and good for the professional. We don’t know yet how many people might choose to Queue Dodge, but we’ll learn from this and make better hiring decisions as a result,” said the company.

Riot Games said it is not the first company to make this bold move, citing US online clothing store Zappos, who offered employees $2000 to quit in 2009.

“We want to make sure that [people] are here for more than just a paycheck. We want people that believe in our long term vision and want to be a part of our culture,” Riot Games quotes Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh as saying at the time.

The Queue Dodge program isn’t the only innovative HR move Riot Games is making to attract staff. The company also offers what it calls “perks beyond the norm” that include flexible hours, subsidised dinners, free cereal, fresh fruit, snacks, tea and fresh ground coffee, sodas and ice cream, top-of-the-line computers and peripherals  and weekly visits from certified masseuses.

Psychologist and chief executive of Seven Dimensions, Eve Ash, told SmartCompany she was very surprised by the program and imagines the company must have unusual employment contracts in place to make it a good decision for the business.

Ash says a company’s usual trial period is 30 days and within that period there is usually an easy method in place to let an employee go if they are not the right fit.

“But if the 30 day period goes to 60 days, I don’t see the sentiment of paying them [a further $25,000],” says Ash.

Ash says Riot Games may believe they can gain valuable feedback from an unhappy employee who chooses to leave. Or, she says, perhaps there is another reason for the announcement.

“What a fascinating way to draw huge global attention for a brand that is just releasing an internal policy.”


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