Survey: 43% of essential retailers increased hourly pay amid COVID-19

Marianne Wilson
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walmart employee
Walmart recently rewarded its employees with a second cash bonus.

A new survey details the measures essential retailers are taking to reward and protect employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Forty-three percent of essential retailers said they have increased hourly pay, 17% said they are offering a bonus to be paid into the future, and 22% percent say they are offering both increased hourly pay and a bonus, according to a Korn Ferry survey of more than 50 major U.S. retailers, with annual revenues between $50 million to more than $20 billion.

The largest percentage (43%) of essential retailers said they are paying store employees an extra $2.00/hour on average, and 33% said they are also offering additional PTO to store workers. Fourteen percent are offering an increased employee discount and 5% are offering increased overtime pay.

Protective measures retail employers are offering employees include hand sanitizer (100%), requiring face masks (90%) and gloves (52%) and sneeze guards at checkouts (71%). 

Nearly half (43%) are taking employee temperatures before each shift, and 29% are requiring health screenings for employees who took time off due to illness.

“It would have been hard to imagine just a few short months ago how potentially dangerous it now is to be a retail employee,” said Korn Ferry senior client partner and retail expert Craig Rowley. “However, with skyrocketing demand for essential goods, workers in those stores need to be properly compensated and protected.”
With regards to precautions for customers, 67% of surveyed retailers are offering hand sanitizer and 71% are marking distance lines at checkouts. More than two-thirds (67%) are limiting the number of customers in the store, and 48% are guiding customer movement through the store.

In addition, 29% are requiring that customers wear face masks in the store. Ten percent are taking customers’ temperature before allowing them to enter the store.

As many states begin to ease restrictions for non-essential retailers, 40% of respondents say they believe their stores will be open by the end of May.

“Just because non-essential stores are starting to open, this does not mean business as usual,” said Rowley. “The new ‘normal’ means precautions at retail locations will be in place for the foreseeable future.”