• Curt Mercadante

Pay-to-Stay is a Toxic Culture

Retaining your management employees by paying them off, because you know they would otherwise quit.

I call it a "Pay-to-Stay Culture." And it's toxic.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against paying employees more.

But when you're only retaining them by paying them off to put a band-aid over their misery and keep them trapped with the golden handcuffs, something is seriously wrong.

During my career, I've had the displeasure of working in and around such cultures, both as an employee and as a consultant.

To be sure, not everyone succumbs to the temptation of higher pay. Some leave. And the ones that stay are disengaged or even actively disengaged and unfulfilled with their work.

That's a recipe not only for toxicity, but for less productivity and lower profitability.

Compensation is only one factor — and perhaps not even the most important one — in determining the engagement of your team members. And as Gallup research finds...

"When employees are engaged and thriving in at least four well-being elements, they are 42% more likely to evaluate their overall lives highly and 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months."

Very importantly, however, a pay-to-stay work culture is a culture that is founded upon fear and guilt.

Fear that you'll miss out on more money for yourself and your family...

And that resulting guilt if you do so.

It preys upon the societal conditioning that money is the key to success, and weaponizes it to manipulate you into remaining in an unfulfilling, or downright toxic, job.

In addition to less productivity and profitability, it also hurts your clients, who rely on your team's creativity to create impact that benefits them.

And, as I've posted here before, an environment of fear is NOT an environment in which creativity flows.

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