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Can small businesses keep up as more big box brands offer $15/hr pay?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Bigger companies are jumping onto the higher wage train – how can small businesses keep up? There may be other sectors of your business that can improve.

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Back in 2017 Target became one of the first large scale retailers to make a goal of increasing their frontline workers minimum wage by a significant margin. Dollar wage increases became the norm for the ensuing years and now in 2020 they are poised to push up to minimum $15/hour starting in early July.

This, on top of their $200 bonuses to workers for continuing to work during the pandemic, shows one of the greatest employee-oriented pushes in years from a major retailer. This whole situation may have become feasible because of their unprecedented sales (up 275% for online sales in April) during the pandemic, but unlike some companies they’re turning it around to take care of their workers.

Now this is of course important for those workers there, but what’s this going to mean for those small businesses that can’t keep up with that pay jump. For that we need to look at what the two jobs require. Every major retailer pushes their employees hard. No matter how good the manager is, they still need you to be fast, courteous, and on point 100% of the time you’re at work.

We are talking anywhere from 6-10 hour days completely on your feet with a plastered smile on while a rude customer calls you some of the most hated slurs because they aren’t getting $0.20 off an item. That instance is from personal experience. These jobs are tough, and they don’t stop. Day in and day out it’s all of the stress you can imagine. So how do small businesses compare to that?

Start with looking at your work environment. Can you make a better environment than those big names? Can you somehow ensure that your employees aren’t going to be hammered by clientele every day? What about having a system of giving people a break when those incidents happen? Making a better or less stressful environment will matter to a lot of employees. That extra $4/hour won’t matter if they are having to worry about anxiety and/or stress on the job.

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If you can’t pull off a less stressful environment then maybe look into adjusting how you do scheduling. Large retailers are only interested in making sure they’re numbers are protected; they don’t usually care if you’re having difficulties meeting a rough schedule. Remaining flexible is probably the most advisable, just balance it out while not letting things run all over you either. The biggest thing a large retailer cannot do is make a personal relationship with every employee. Start with that and go from there.

Small businesses will always be better for those personal touches, and you should exemplify that with every employee.

Robert Raney is a geoscientist whose been writing and painting for years to get his creative fix in. While working on his thesis in theoretical planetary physics he was also creating fantastical worlds on paper for fun. He's an at home Texan Houstonite who currently works slinging drinks at a local LGBTQ+ bar in the gayborhood, when not fielding oil & gas jobs that have taken him around the world.

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