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“I worked at a lead generation marketing company in a Midwestern city for nearly three years, and there were SO many cult-y things going on. Their whole thing was ‘growth’ (generating more money for clients and the company itself). We would have monthly company meetings where we had to recite a ‘growth creed’ and chant the company’s name at the end of the meeting.”
“We even had to chant the company’s name at the end of an impromptu company meeting that was called because a young employee had committed suicide. The CEO said we may not feel like chanting, but we needed to do it for the late employee.
They also got the graphic designers to design ‘swag’ (t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc.) and then encouraged us to buy as much swag as we could. They would take the money out of our next paycheck.
More importantly, they treated leaving as a sign of betrayal. I had a wonderful manager who found a new job where they would give her great maternity leave and cover her and her spouse’s health insurance. (Our company had no real maternity leave at the time; people had to apply for short-term disability and hope HR approved it, which they didn’t do for my manager.) When she put in her two weeks, they forced her to leave a week early. A little over a year later, a coworker put in her two weeks notice, and the higher-ups made her leave THAT DAY. We didn’t even get to say goodbye to her.
As you can imagine, competent workers kept leaving after a couple of years. And this company was obsessed with promoting people, so they focused on promoting people who drank their Kool-Aid and believed in everything the company did. This meant that leaders were very zealous about enforcing company policies, but they weren’t very capable.
The CEO was from a small town in Iowa, and he seemed to want to run the place like it was a small-town high school. That made the company’s culture really toxic and cult-ish because we were supposed to have all this school spirit-type of pride in our company, but we had extremely heavy workloads and not-great benefits and compensation.”