Do pay rises make you stay in a company which have some misconduct problems like Ubi?


For those who aren’t aware, [Ubisoft is offering pay increases for their Canadian studio employees] starting at 5% for junior positions and scaling all the way up to 20% for senior developers. If you look at this decision alone in a vacuum, paying people off rather than actually change the problematic parts seems like an attempt at buying silence. Honestly, without inside information as to what is going on at the higher levels of Ubi leadership, that very well might be the case. From a more clinical and dispassionate perspective, however, this also makes some amount of sense if this decision is not the only effort being made to clean house.

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[Ubisoft acknowledged back in July] that they are at high risk of losing talent due to the abuse allegations. I suspect they have had a lot of employee turnover in recent months. They have also likely seen the employee retention issues that Activision-Blizzard is currently having as well – there’s a lot of chatter in industry channels about the developers leaving Activision-Blizzard these days – and if my inbox is to be believed, hiring in general is difficult right now due to the number of companies competing for talent. Ubisoft leadership probably sees a major need to retain their most experienced and knowledgeable employees, especially if there are signs that employee turnover (especially among senior devs) is rising unacceptably high. They recognize the risk and need to do something to try to reduce the attrition rate. What do you think the best course of action would be in order to try to persuade your employees to stay? I would argue that higher pay is probably the most effective option available.

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Furthermore, we must realize that any kind of systemic changes to fix the problems and working environment will take time to prove out. “Talk is cheap”, as the saying goes. Ubisoft leadership has promised to take steps to fix things but even if they are telling the truth, the company could suffer significant long-term damage from losing too many of their senior developers on their biggest franchises while they prove that they have truly fixed things. Without enough developers continuing to produce their product line, their ability to change things for the better will be significantly hindered.

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Hypothetically, the best way to keep workers around while they prove that they have actually changed for the better is by putting their money where their mouth is, by offering more money to stay. I cannot definitively say whether this is the truth or not – it could very well be a cold-hearted attempt at buying off their developers’ consciences. However, I would contend that it is also really the best way to try to prove that they are serious about fixing things. I don’t think Ubisoft has any options in this situation that will look good, only options that will look less bad. This course of action is probably the best of the options that were available to them. If I were thinking about leaving Ubisoft, a significant pay increase is probably the most compelling thing they could offer me in order to persuade me to see if the rest of their promises of change are legit or not. 

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