Hot Story: Minimum Wage Eye Opener

Communicating Minimum Wage

The minimum wage topic has been making the headlines lately. Aside from its impact on the economy in general, its linkage to engagement, productivity, and HR make the whole issue a sensible one. I am also convinced that there is a linkage between those elements and branding.  The interesting fact is that no matter the philosophy of the company, no matter the policies, all will be reflected by, or through its managerial staff. So, first critical point is how the managerial team understands the policies and much more critical is how it understands and implements those policies. The level of engagement is measured by the gap between those two elements.The level of HR is somehow measured by the level of engagement. This explains the shift to storytelling. THERE is the story of HR success.

So, shifting a few steps back from that HR success story to the making of it is the company's story itself. What stories do organizations want to bring to the employees' tables? We know that one of the most crucial of all is the compensation and benefits menu. And of course, the core ingredient to that is minimum wage.

Minimum Wage: Myths and Realities

Minimum wage is the salt in your food. One needs salt for taste and basic nutrients. So, there is really no way around it. Interestingly enough, and this illustrates the importance of stories once again, it is not so much that there is no way of avoiding the issue; it is rather there is no way of avoiding the noise and perception around the issue. Take the example of Wal-mart. There was so much noise about Wal-mart underpaying its employees. True or False? Wage disparities exist in all organizations and true, it does not make it right. People may decide to go work at Wal-mart for one reason or another. Did it ever occur to the common outsider that it could be because of the wages that Wal-mart has been offering (aside the fact that Walmart is the largest employer in the US)?
Whether Wal-mart has decided to raise its wages for PR or economic reasons is again another side of the story. The fact is: Wal-mart has been leading in raising its wages or, more appropriately, the media have been making it sensational that Walmart is raising its wages


Does Wal-mart deserve the credit?  Let's look at the chart of the top 20s in retail wage, for entry level or equivalent jobs. You might be surprised to discover where Wal-mart has been placing itself.

Granted that these are Glassdoor 2012 average data, and that Wal-mart is in the lower tier of the group, it still made it to the top 20s and was coming ahead of Gap, Urban Outfitters and Target, in the retail industry, and ahead of Target in the same category. And this is since 2012! Macy's, Best Buy and JCPenney equally offer less than $9 and have not released any wage increase. Gap has come a long way ever since and will offer $10/hour this year.  So, what is all the noise about? Well, news have to be sensational. Putting on the first page that Bloomingdales pays over $13 an hour for their lowest job category is not as striking as saying that Wal-mart is breaking and is finally going to offer $9 an hour.

While it is no secret that Bloomingdales caters to  affluent men and women and Wal-mart serves the other end of the spectrum, the major difference lies in the communication and marketing part. Employee Relations, Customer Relations and Marketing of both organizations make the whole difference. Also, granted that Bloomingdales will never cover the ground  of the "Giant Walmart" with its 1.3million US-based employees,  its Macy's brand appears to be the leader in US-based luxury Department Stores, when talking about retail industry. The stories that you hear about  JCPenney, Best Buy, and Macy's (all in the "below $9 " bracket) are about business, management, restructuring, corporate citizenship, skillfully steering away from the minimum wage rate or increase or compliance to federal push. In the meantime, Wal-mart got the public interested. The media pushed its popularity higher to the eyes of those who cannot decrypt the communication game in the world of business.

The best have not fallen into the trap of minimum wage issue. They played a fair communication  game. They know what the stakes are, and instead of focusing on tactics, they have put their efforts in strategy.

Today, who is ahead of the game?


Per current 

data, many 

retailers have been offering over the minimum wage recommen-


all along.

Current hourly wages in the lowest, equivalent job category

varies from $9.50 to $16.29.  

It is still an average of $11.22/hour. 

Evidently, data do not include the majority of  small businesses that represent a big part of minimum wage employers. Roughly 98% of small businesses have less than 20 employees, which represent about 18% of the US private business workforce.  Firms with less than 100 employ about 35% of the U.S. workforce.

The Winner: Employer Branding 

So, is it all about the media, politics, or economics? A mix of all probably. However, overlooked by the non observer is the HR and branding win. Starbucks is among those who play the branding card. Yet, it is a far cry from Ben & Jerry's culture, which is almost impossible to match in that type of industry. Size does matter in culture defining...among other criteria. 

And talking about HR and business alignment, is the minimum wage issue creating  involuntary part-time workers?

En Synthèse...


La question de salaire minimum horaire est bien un sujet à débat ces derniers temps aux USA... La question ces temps-ci est de rehausser le "salaire minimum horaire" pour être "viable" c'est environ, sinon moins, ce que fait le jeune employé en France.

En Synthèse...


La question de salaire minimum horaire est bien un sujet à débat ces derniers temps aux USA. Mais là, je ne suis pas très correcte car il ne s'agit pas de "salaire" sous la définition Américaine. Il s'agit de paie horaire. Hé oui, noter que la définition, proprement dite, de "salaire" aux USA est synonyme de "annuel" ou "mensuel", ou taux forfaitaire sans limitation horaires. Il est souvent associé à une fonction cadre.
Une grande majorité, sinon la majorité des  employés non cadre sont payés à l'heure.

Soit, le "salaire" horaire minimum  ou SMIC est l'équivalent du "minimum wage". La question ces temps-ci est de rehausser le "salaire minimum horaire" pour être "viable". Par comparaison il est prévu à au-delà de 9 euros en France; aux Etats-Unis, il est encore à $7.25 en général, soit environ sinon moins, ce que fait le jeune employé en France. Maintenant vous comprenez pourquoi vous aimez faire votre shopping aux USA parce que c'est "moins cher"? Tout étant relatif, ce n'est pas si à la portée de la bourse Americaine moyenne que ça.

Sous la pression sociale, politique et mediatique, les géants comme Wal-mart, cet omni présent hypermarché/supermarché avec ses 1.3 million d'employés aux USA et plus de 2 millions globalement, a cédé. Cela a été suivi par d'autres entreprises ayant une forte population d'employés payés au salaire minimum horaire (voir tableau ci-dessus). Target , qui a dû fermer portes au Canada pour diverses raisons, n'a pas donné de precisions.

La pression médiatique et sociale est suffisament forte pour avoir poussé une organization comme Wal-mart à finalement augmenter son taux horaire. Toujours est-il que dans le domaine du service le taux horaire moyen est d'environ 11$ mais cela inclue Bloomingdales que l'on comparerait aux Galeries Lafayette, Le Printemps ou La Samaritaine. Alors, oui, la paie horaire minimum aux USA n'est pas brillante . D'autant moins brillant que 98% des PME ont moins de 20 employés, ce qui signifie qu'ils ne peuvent pas souvent se permettre d'outrepasser les 7.25$ de l'heure.

Alors, que font les employeurs? Alors que les PME n'ont vraiment pas beaucoup de choix, vous remarquerez que si vous faites vos emplettes chez Wal-mart,Target ou Kroger (et là, ce sont seulement des exemples majeurs), vous devez attendre en file indienne pour pouvoir payer. Prévoyez au moins 15mn de plus si tout va bien (car je ne vais pas parler des lacunes de training). Et ici, bien souvent, il n'y a pas "d'épicerie" ou "boulangerie" du coin pour raffler votre pain ou lait quotidien. Alors, quoi, diriez-vous? Je me demande si la pression sur la paie horaire minimum n'a pas créé des sous-emplois involontaires aux USA. A voir de plus près.


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