The tight pandemic labor market has retailers holding hiring events and offering bonuses and higher wages to sales associates and operations employees. According to a report from the Labor Department, American workers have a stronger hand in bargaining as retailers use bonuses and pay increases to attract and retain workers. In June, the hourly wage rose 3.6% compared to a year ago.
Kohl’s, which earlier this month hired 5,000 full and part time associates during its first non-seasonal national hiring event, announced its continued investment in hourly associates. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin retailer is offering store, distribution center and e-commerce fulfillment center associates bonuses ranging from $100 to $400 for working at Kohl’s during the holiday season.
“As we prepare for an exciting second half of the year, we want to recognize and thank our hourly store, distribution center and e-commerce fulfillment center associates who bring our fall and holiday plans to life for our customers,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief executive officer. “During the busiest shopping season of the year, these associates are going into our facilities and managing incredible demands. We want to recognize them for their upcoming contributions. The holidays are always when Kohl’s is at its best, and we’re so grateful for all our associates do to deliver an incredible experience to our millions of customers across the country, both in our stores and through our digital platforms.”
Kohl’s said it offers competitive wages, a weekly pay schedule, flexible schedules, including day, night and weekend shifts, an immediate 15% Kohl’s associate discount that can be stacked with other applicable Kohl’s coupons, and special associate shop days with no brand exclusions for more savings. Kohl’s associates will also soon have access to hundreds of prestige beauty brands through the upcoming opening of Sephora at Kohl’s, which is set to bow in the first 200 stores this fall.
Other retailers are sweetening wages for retention purposes. Target in 2020 invested an additional $1 billion in its team to provide meaningful benefits and resources such as an industry-leading starting pay of $15, paid leaves and back-up care, among other things.
The retailer permanently raised its wages beginning in July 2020. In addition, throughout the pandemic, Target provided recognition bonuses for employees to show support during the pandemic. In January, hourly employees in stores, distribution centers, headquarters and field-based offices received a $500 bonus. All store directors, executive team leaders and salaried distribution center leaders got bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, representing a $200 million investment.
Target recognized team members five times with bonuses for going above and beyond during the pandemic, the retailer said.
Walmart in April provided a special cash bonus for hourly associates for their hard work and dedication to serving customers in a time of an unprecedented national health crisis. The bonus was for all U.S. hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices. Full-time hourly associates were paid $300, and part time hourly associates received $150, representing a $365 million investment.
In addition to the special bonus for hourly associates, the company accelerated the timing of a quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates a month early, in late April. The company said it paid those bonuses as if it achieved its first quarter plan. There was another bonus payout on May 28. Altogether, nearly $550 million went into associates’ pockets and the economy.