Macy’s Is Offering Debt-Free Tuition, Higher Wages And Flexibility In An Effort To Attract And Retain Workers

In this transitional time, slowly emerging from the pandemic into the new future of work, we’ve seen amazing changes. One of the most pleasantly surprising developments is the sudden increase in the power and leverage of workers.

As the economy reopened, we swiftly moved from laying off and furloughing millions of workers to businesses unable to find help to satiate their customer demands. The dual trends of a Great Resignation and war for talent have forced businesses to finally listen to their employees and enact empathetic measures to vastly improve their work lives. We’ve seen wages increased, sign-on bonuses offered, remote, flexible and hybrid options and free tuition.

Macy’s, one of the nation’s oldest and well-known retailers, in an effort to show its support and commitment to its workers, is providing employees with additional benefits. The empathetic and empowering offerings include increased wages, debt-free education and flexibility.

Here are the highlights of what Macy’s is offering to its employees:

Providing A Debt-free Education Benefit Program

Starting next year in February 2022, Macy’s will provide a debt-free education benefit program to its team members. This will be an approximate $35 million investment, made over the next four years and available for all U.S.-based, regular, salaried and hourly workers. It will cover 100% of tuition, books and fees for high school completion, college prep, English-language learning, associate and bachelor’s degrees, bootcamps and professional certificates within Macy’s debt-free network. 

At first, you may question this program, thinking that workers would get their college degrees and leave for better opportunities. The paid-for tuition program is a terrific recruiting and retention tool. There will likely be employees who will remain at their organization and rise up through the ranks. Productivity will increase, as workers feel appreciated and are motivated. Some may eventually leave, but have fond memories and share their good feelings with others, enhancing the company’s image and reputation. Walmart, Amazon and Target previously announced that they’ve offered their employees free tuition.


Raising The Minimum Rate To $15 An Hour 

The retailer, known for its Thanksgiving Day parade, will raise the minimum rate across all Macy’s locations for new and current colleagues. The company has already phased in the $15-an-hour minimum rate across several markets and will achieve this target nationally by May 2022. In addition, this past summer, the company completed pay increases to a $15-an-hour rate for all distribution center colleagues. Once all these investments are made, average base pay will be above $17 an hour and average total pay will be $20 an hour.

Adding Flexibility To Time Off 

Covid-19 highlighted the need for flexibility. Public schools closed in some cities and states, forcing parents—particularly working mothers—to scramble and find suitable childcare. Many working women decided to pull out of the job market rather than juggling work and childcare. Additionally, companies are now acknowledging that people have lives and challenges. They may need mental health days to prevent burnout or need to care for sick family members. Offering flexibility and time off is a welcome relief to employees.

Macy’s corporate and hourly colleagues will receive one additional flexible paid holiday to support their well-being and provide further flexibility to take a day off on a holiday that is most important to them.

Danielle Kirgan, chief transformation and human resources officer at Macy’s, said about the programs, “As we continue our transformation to be a digitally led omnichannel retailer, a critical component of our growth includes investing in our talent and enhancing all aspects of their Macy’s, Inc. experience with a strong focus on advancement opportunities, culture and engagement.” 

Kirgan added, “By investing in our colleagues’ education and financial well-being, we’re determined to make it possible for them to bring the best of themselves to work every day and to enable them to pursue their own aspirations within and outside of Macy’s, Inc.”

Macy’s gets that it, similar to thousands of other businesses, needs to offer employee-friendly benefits to attract and retain workers in this tight job market. 

Mike Melillo, CEO of Dockwa, offered a theory on a contributing factor to the disappearing worker. He said, “One of the more interesting things coming out of the last year is that the big cities lost their monopoly on talent. That has meant that more people are moving to places like Newport, Rhode Island, where the quality of life is really desirable. That’s great in that it brings new people and new revenue into a broader range of cities and states. It also has consequences, however, in that it drives the cost of living up in those places. So people who used to be able to work at a Newport restaurant or hotel and live in town find they’re unable to afford that anymore and move away.”  

If you’ve been shopping at a mall or department store recently, the holiday decorations are up and the holiday music is playing. The traditional upbeat mood of retailers is precarious. While this is anticipated to be a strong season for retailers, they have a big problem: where are the workers and how can they find sufficient staffing for their needs. 

Stores, shops, restaurants, hotels and airlines are begging for workers. The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, expects record-setting holiday sales and a need to hire 500,000 to 665,000 seasonal workers. With over 10 millions jobs open, this won’t be an easy feat. 

Businesses have already started offering sign-on bonuses, enhanced wages, flexible working hours and other inducements. Nontraditional methods are being deployed. Some businesses are rethinking job qualifications, and keeping an open mind. They are fast-tracking hiring. Drug tests are not called for. The Body Shop is dropping educational requirements and background checks. 

With the holiday season starting in a couple of weeks, UPS announced that it’s hiring 100,000 new employees this month to fill jobs all across the company. The shipping company is making quick decisions—in the short time frame of about 10 minutes. CVS is forgoing having college graduates submit their grades. 

Walmart and Amazon are both looking to hire around 150,000 additional workers to supplement its current staff this season. FedEx said it needs 90,000 holiday workers this year—20,000 more than last year. The overnight delivery company paid $450 million between June and August for higher worker wages, overtime and costs associated with hiring in a tough job market. 

There is heightened concern that because of the crushing demand, workers will get burned out and quit.  

It looks like the way to win the war for holiday talent is to hire quickly, don’t put up too many roadblocks in the interview process, offer premium wages compared to competitors, forsake standard asks and a long interview process, don’t ghost candidates and treat them like gold.

The good news is that if you’re looking for a full-time or seasonal job, there are a lot of companies that will roll out the red carpet for you.

The Tycoon Herald