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Dollar General bolsters parental leave plan, adds adoption benefits

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Another retailer is expanding employee benefits as the nation’s job market continues to tighten.

Dollar General is introducing new paid parental leave and adoption assistance benefits, with the new policies effective April 1. The parental leave benefit includes two weeks of paid time off for all eligible full-time and part-time employees, with two extra weeks of paid leave for birth mothers.

Additionally, the company will provide employees up to $4,000 in adoption assistance.

Benefits are available to all eligible employees across the company’s more than 14,000 retail locations, 15 distribution centers and the corporate offices.

“These additional benefit build on Dollar General’s mission of Serving Others, and its operating priority to invest in its people as a competitive advantage,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO. “The paid parental leave and adoption assistance benefits will support our employees and their families with financial assistance during the exciting time of welcoming a child.”

The discounter is the newest retailer upgrading its paid leave policy. Earlier this year, Starbucks announced that its store associates who are birth mothers will be entitled to six weeks of paid leave at 100%, up from 67% average pay previously, as well as 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Non-birth parents (including fathers, spouses and foster and adoptive parents) can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Also, non-store employees (includes district managers, plant partners and headquarters employees) who are birth mothers will now have the ability to take up to 18 weeks of paid leave. Non-birth parents will have the ability to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Previously, those 12 weeks were unpaid.

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Target posts Q&A on its wage hikes

BY Marianne Wilson

On Tuesday, Target Corp. said it is raising its minimum hourly wage to $12 this year, starting with existing associates, part of the retailer’s previously announced initiative to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour by 2020. In a Q&A posted on its website, Stephanie Lundquist, Target’s chief human resources officer, discussed the wage hikes and what they mean for the company. Here are some highlights:

How did the team react to the announcement that wages were increasing to $11?
Overall, we received an overwhelmingly supportive response to our investment from team members, job candidates and the community. Our existing team members were excited about the move and even more enthusiastic about our commitment for the future. It also helped as we were hiring more than 100,000 seasonal team members for the holidays. The weekend after our announcement, which is one of our biggest hiring weekends of the year, we doubled the number of job offers we made compared to the year before. And we saw a significant increase in job applications throughout the entire holiday season.

How and when will the increase to $12 minimum wage go into effect?
Building on the commitment we made last fall, we’ll increase to a $12 minimum wage this year, beginning with our existing team members. For tens of thousands of team members, it will be their second significant wage increase in a six-month time-frame. And for all team members, a $12 minimum wage will be higher than the state-level minimum wage offered in all 50 states.

As a leader of the Target team, how do you think about where and how you invest?
We believe that taking care of our team members means investing in their whole selves. That certainly includes pay, but it also means giving them opportunities to grow professionally, take care of themselves, their families and each other and they are passionate about making a difference for our guests and their communities.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of paid training hours to develop our team members’ product knowledge and service skills and provide continuous learning programs. We’ve invested in wages and benefits so our team members can take care of themselves and their families. All of this is in addition to the benefits we offer our team members every day, like a merchandise discount, additional discounts for healthy product options, tuition reimbursement, industry-leading access to free counseling services and more.

What does it mean to you to make these kinds of investments in the Target team?
When we announced our wage increases last year, it was one of my proudest days at Target. I’ve worked in retail my entire career and have spent more than a decade at Target, focusing on how we take care of our team members and help grow their careers. I’ve traveled to stores across the country, talking to our team members, and I understand the impact that increased wages make on their ability to take care of themselves and their families. And for our team, it allowed us to say: we appreciate you, we care about you, and we’re investing in your future.

For the complete Q&A, click here.

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Survey: State of retail ‘very healthy’

BY Marianne Wilson

Despite news about the dire state of retail, retailers are bullish on their industry overall and their own business in particular.

Six in 10 merchants view the state of retail as very healthy (ranking seven points or higher on a 10-point scale), according to a survey by Vyze, which provides cloud-based financing technology solutions for retailers. And three in four merchants view the state of their business the same. Merchants with loyalty programs rate their business health even higher than average (81%).

The survey also revealed that 98% of merchants plan to invest in the checkout experience in 2018. Improving the credit application process, increasing financing options, and improving mobile checkout are the top three areas in which merchants plan on focusing their check according to the survey. Artificial intelligence and augmented / virtual reality are the least popular areas for investment among the retailers surveyed.

Other key findings include:

• On average, nearly 30% of goods and services are paid for using retail financing.

• Eight in 10 merchants offer a loyalty program, and those that offer a loyalty program rate the health of their business more highly than those that don’t.

• Loyalty program membership is the top method used to measure loyalty (64%), closely followed by re-purchase ratios (62%). Traditional methods such as Net Promoter Score rank near the bottom with only 43% of merchants tracking this metric.

• While monetary incentives are still the top drivers of loyalty, offering multiple financing / credit options (36%), having a high rate of credit approvals (35%), and shortening the checkout experience (36%) are also viewed as influential in building customer loyalty.

• Six in 10 (63%) retailers surveyed believe that financing declines at checkout have a negative impact on customer loyalty.

• While websites and POS terminals are the dominant methods for submitting financing applications, merchants that offer secondary / tertiary lenders are most likely to use paper & text-based applications.

“Most retailers are optimistic about both the industry and their own businesses, and actively investing in areas such as checkout and financing to drive loyalty and customer satisfaction,” said Vyze VP, Customer Success Jai Holtz, VP, customer success. Vyze. “As online and mobile shopping continue to boom, we expect to see a rapid rise in the number of merchants creating or expanding their credit loyalty programs to drive conversion, increase ticket sizes, and improve customer satisfaction scores.”

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