Employer offers new staff £1,000 to 'Foxtrot Oscar'

IT firm PEER 1 is promising to pay £1k to any new staff who want to leave after a fortnight.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

PEER 1, a Canadian IT firm that is just launching its SME hosting services in the UK, says it will offer new staff a £1,000 ‘Foxtrot Oscar’ bonus after two weeks in the job – the idea being that this will weed out anyone who doesn’t really like the role, and ensure that the firm ‘only employs people who are fully committed to delivering outstanding customer service’. It’s a novel twist on retention: testing people’s motivation by offering them a bribe to leave. Our only worry is that by announcing it in advance, they’ll get a flood of applicants who have no interest in anything other than the £1k pay-off...

The man spearheading PEER 1’s UK push is Dominic Monkhouse, who used to run the UK arm of Rackspace – previously a regular winner of MT’s Service Excellence Awards. Monkhouse apparently aims to make PEER 1 the UK’s number one service provider; though since it’s currently no more than a start-up, and his former employer makes the best part of £80m in this country alone, he’ll have to go some. But having taken the Rackspace job a week before 9/11, at least he knows a few things about growing a business in a tough climate. ‘In the last downturn, online activity continued to grow, and I think it will again,’ he told MT

Monkhouse thinks his new firm can differentiate itself by raising the bar on customer service – and he’s convinced the right people are out there, if perhaps ‘under-employed’ in their existing role. But he also reckons this Foxtrot Oscar policy is the best way of weeding out new employees who don’t immediately buy into his philosophy. ‘Within two weeks, you generally know whether you’ve made the right decision or not [to join],’ he says. ‘But the employer has no idea. So we’re saying: let’s not fall out about it; just take some money and go away.’ He insists he’s not worried that people will try and work the system just to get the £1,000. ‘If they get through the process – which isn’t straightforward – and manage to hoodwink me, then they’re welcome to the money.’

The key aim here is to avoid churn – the bane of any service provider’s existence. Monkhouse hopes that by getting rid of unsuitable staff early, and by being ‘absolutely honest and transparent’ about performance, he can try and get PEER 1’s churn rate down to the low single-figure rates enjoyed by the industry’s top performers. That means customers are less likely to lose their account manager just as they’re starting to build a relationship.

Whether this plan (/spurious PR stunt) will work remains to be seen. But it's always good to see people putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to customer service...

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