Is this too much?

Spoiler alert: No. I don't think it's possible to pay top employees too much. Also: 7 other things worth a click

Someday, when Understandably is a giant media brand and I’m hiring people left and right, this might come back to bite me.

But, I’m going to go on the record: I don't think it's possible to pay top employees too much.

I suppose there's an economic limit. You can't rewrite the laws of math and physics.

But the cost to recruit, train and retain a stellar employee is so high—and the risks of losing him or her are so great—that it makes sense to go above market, all the time, other things being equal.

Compared to $44k?

Reason for mentioning this: Taco Bell, which announced yesterday that it will start paying some store managers $100,000 a year, up from the current $50,000 to $80,0000.

“We hope we can evaluate the effect of increased salaries on manager and team morale, restaurant performance, recruitment and retention, and customer experience,” Ferril Onyett, Taco Bell’s senior director of global training and international HR, told MarketWatch.

The announcement caused a stir. I suppose it undercuts every high school teacher and parent in America warning underperforming kids that they’ll wind up working in fast food.

Personally, I was surprised by the amount of surprise.

Then I dug in, and realized that according to Glassdoor, the average manager salary at a McDonald's is about $44,000.

PayScale says the average manager salary across retail even in New York City is between $39,000 and $81,000.


Of course, you might recall that the most-loved burger chain in America, privately owned In-N-Out, set its average manager salary at $160,000.

That's a lot of money, especially considering that it's a path to a six-figure paycheck that's open to people who don't have a high school diploma (never mind a college degree).

The average annual income for an adult in the United States who didn’t graduate high school is just over $20,000.

"In-N-Out is just eons above everybody else. On wages and benefits, they really are the best large chain," Saru Jayaraman, of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, told the California Sun, which reported on this back in 2018.

Who could be more important to the success of an individual fast food franchise than the store manager? Isn’t it smart to pay enough to make the best ones happy, loyal and proud?

Better to recruit and keep one amazing manager at a high salary, than to save a few bucks (in the short term, only) by hiring a parade of lesser leaders on the cheap.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Why women should tell other women how much they make (but men shouldn’t? Not sure about that). (The New York Times)

  2. The Green Beret murder suspect who was pardoned by President Trump won’t get his Special Forces tab back, at least for now. (The Washington Post)

  3. They say we are a divided country but almost everyone of us now has a box of old cords that we’ll never use again, just taking up space. (The Wall Street Journal)

  4. Mark Zuckerberg says he’s dropping his annual personal challenges. (Reuters)

  5. A disposable camera app, where you have to wait until 9 a.m. the following day to see your pictures, has surpassed 1 million downloads. (The Verge)

  6. A Vermont legislator introduced a bill to make possession of a cell phone by anyone under 21 a crime. (“I have no delusions that it's going to pass,” he said. “I wouldn't probably vote for it myself.” (NBC 5)

  7. More than 530 scripted television shows aired last year, up 7 percent from the year before. (Hollywood Reporter)

Ideas and feedback actively solicited. I wrote about the In-N-Out salary thing for when it first broke.

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