Make It

This company will pay you a bonus to quit your job

Prasad Kanumury, CEO of Mavens
Source: Mavens
Prasad Kanumury, CEO of Mavens

I came from Wall Street where bonuses are typically given out at the end of every year. Companies reward employees for a job well done, hoping that it will be an incentive to retain their top talent. But at Mavens, a cloud-consulting company for the health-care industry, they'll pay you a bonus to quit.

Why on earth would they do that?

For the same reason, says CEO and co-founder Prasad "PK" Kanumury: To retain top talent.

The quitting bonus is only an option for new hires. It expires at the end of the first 45 days of employment. If the job isn't what a person expected or they decide they're unhappy; they have the right to accept 10 percent of their base salary as a bonus to leave the company.

The thinking goes that, if an employee is unhappy with the job, they're going to be looking for a job anyway – while they're on the company clock.

"A lot of people don't want to quit a job without having one already lined up," Kanumury said. "It's all about the money. They have to pay their bills. We'll pay your bills while you look for another job. Leave. Don't waste our time because you're looking for another job anyway."

This may sound counterintuitive to spend money on talent that leaves the company but it's actually a policy that helps employee retention at Mavens, which, at this 50-employee company is at nearly 100 percent. Everyone who is there wants to be there, Kanumury said. That is evident in their rating on job site Glassdoor: With more than 50 employee reviews, they have 5 out of 5 stars. 100 percent would recommend the company to a friend. And 100 percent approve of the CEO.

"From a business perspective of managing the bottom line — it's more fiscally responsible," Kanumury said. "The investment in someone to be prepared to do the job is tremendous and I'm cutting my losses pretty quick if someone doesn't want to be here. If they take the bonus then, I don't have to train them on everything we do. It's an advantage for us."

"We’ll pay your bills while you look for another job. Leave. Don’t waste our time because you’re looking for another job anyway." -Prasad “PK” Kanumury, CEO and co-founder of Mavens

When coming up with the amount to get someone to quit, 10 percent just felt right to Kanumury. It made sense. "We didn't want to make it too attractive," he said. "It's not insignificant. But if you make $200k a year, you're not leaving for $20k—you're leaving because you're unhappy."

And that's exactly what they wanted: to remove the people who feel like they might have made a mistake during their first 45 days. It's not so tempting that people will take the quick money and run. But it's attractive enough to nudge dissatisfied employees out the door.

Kanumury believes offering employees the option of being paid to quit is an interesting aspect of Mavens — but it's not the biggest benefit to working for his company. He says the biggest benefit is probably the flexibility they offer employees.

"The commitment was to have fun," Kanumury said of the thinking when he and fellow Salesforce alum Billy Ho founded the company in 2007.

"We have to have fun at what we're doing," Kanumury said. "And it actually has to have a material impact on the customers."

Before Salesforce, Kanumury was a Big 5 consulting guy. He likened that type of environment to a treadmill. So when he started Mavens, one of his main focuses was culture.

"I don't believe in work/life balance. I think that's kind of a lie. If it's true it's a boring job. I believe in work/life flexibility. That's the real benefit — the real value. You get to do something that matters and you get to do it on your terms."

Expertise is an integral part of almost any business. You can't afford to lose people after a few months or a few years. That's why culture is so important to Kanumury.

"The way we work is more natural," he said. "We're moving towards a naturalistic way of being. Work is an activity, not a destination."

Mavens employees can work from anywhere as long as they're getting the job done and are having an impact. This seems to be of the utmost importance for the transient global world we live in. Thirty percent of their work force is in Europe. They do projects across the globe. And over the last couple of years, their employees have been working in over 30 different countries. They don't have a defined paid time off policy. People can take as much time as they want. The vacations are technically approved by their peers. And as long as they're OK with it — they're good.

Another reason the bonus to quit structure works for them is that potential employees go through a rigorous 40+ hour interview process. So by the time they extend an offer they have a pretty good sense of their abilities. Usually only someone who is unhappy will take the bonus. Mavens believes in certain fundamentals that will result in success. Here are the 7 characteristics that make an ideal candidate for them.

1. Creative thinking

2. Critical thinking

3. Empathetic thinking

4. Accountability — because you don't have a manager

5. Professionalism — you don't have someone telling you what to wear or when to show up

6. Craftsmanship — to have pride in your work

7. Judgment — they treat people like individuals and we expect them to use good judgment

So, while most companies try to incentives their employees to stay, Mavens is doing the exact opposite. And it's paying great dividends for them financially and culturally.

Now, wouldn't it be great if they could figure out how to make this idea work in the dating world?!

Commentary by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side." He is a commentator on CNBC's "Filthy Rich Guide" and a consultant on the Showtime show, "Billions," starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.

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