• Nicole Lisson

CEO Takes Action to Bring Collective Uplift to Workforce

What benefits can caring for the collective bring to businesses? A Seattle-based CEO demonstrated the far-reaching effects of collective uplift when he imposed a $70,000 a year minimum wage for his 120 employees in 2015. Dan Price, CEO at Gravity Payments, realized many of his hard-working employees were struggling to make ends meet, often working multiple jobs in order to sustain themselves in Seattle, a city with an outrageous cost of living. Price knew he was taking a huge risk with such a substantial pay raise for his employees, but he felt they deserved the opportunity to live comfortably and achieve their goals.

With implementation of the $70k minimum wage, a third of Gravity Payments employees enjoyed a doubling of their yearly salary, and Price took a cut of $1 million to his annual salary. Rush Limbaugh called him a communist. Two higher-paid employees quit in protest as people at the bottom of the ladder instantly climbed to their level. Would Gravity Payments be shattered or strengthened by the new minimum wage?

Five years later, Gravity Payments is thriving. The value of the payments they process has risen from $3.8 billion to $10.2 billion a year, and they have doubled their workforce. Employees have bought homes in Seattle, started families, and paid off debt. They’re no longer in survival mode, living paycheck to paycheck. This uplift in wellbeing has profoundly affected Gravity Payments’ culture and productivity. Without the stress and anxiety of barely making ends meet, employees have been more productive and creative. They work harder and are a more cohesive team.

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, Gravity Payments was losing money fast. The company processes credit card payments for thousands of small businesses, so when those businesses closed their doors, profits plummeted. Price faced the possibility of laying off team members or shutting down the company. But as a CEO who valued his team and their input, he asked them what to do about it.

Their solution? Voluntary pay cuts. Price was heartened by the offer, but didn’t think it would work. However, voluntary pay cuts of up to 50% per volunteer saved Gravity Payments half a million dollars a month, keeping it afloat until businesses opened their doors again.

"Give power to your people, be honest and democratic. They will find solutions that you can’t see," says Price of the outcome of the pay cuts in a USA Today article.

Price’s story is just one example of collective uplift in a company, but there are many ways to care for the collective within an organization. EcosystemiQ equips you with the tools to cultivate wellbeing among your team through simply reflecting upon and altering the ways in which you interact and exchange with one another. With these simple, mindful exercises you will begin to see the changes that Price saw in his company - greater productivity, retention, growth, and ingenuity. Visit our Dojos page to learn more.

For more on Price and his story, see these articles from the BBC and USA Today.

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