June: Benefits and Valuing Employees

 The Service Sector: Benefits and Valuing Employees

For the month of June, the Path Forward Coalition is recognizing restaurant and retail stores for the benefits and value they place in their employees because we all win when businesses invest in their workers.

Beyond income, the service sector offers benefits to help employees reach their full potential, thrive in and out of the workplace and, ultimately, achieve the promise of a better quality of life. From flexible schedule offerings, support for educational pursuits, and other wellness and quality of life enhancements, companies in the service sector are invested in employee wellbeing and success.

Below is a look at just a few of the many employees programs restaurant and retail companies – from large to small – are investing in:  

Work/Life Balance: Retailer IKEA offers various benefits to help employees manage their work and personal lives. This includes round-the-clock consultations, resources and referrals for parenting, education, caring for elders, pet care, community resources, legal and financial issues. Including five days of paid paternity leave, employee disaster relief fund, company-paid short and long-term disability.

Health and Wellness: Coffee-chain Starbucks offers anActive Health and Wellness Portalwith over 200,000 health and wellness events and discounts for employees, free training programs and healthy food options and meal plans. Starbucks also holds seasonal physical competitions that encourage employees to get out and exercise.

Retirement Planning: Eligible employees at outdoor retailer REI share in the store’s financial success through the REI Retirement and Profit Sharing Plan. The plan is two-fold, and guarantees a retirement contribution of 5 percent of annual base pay each year even if they do not contribute their own money, and they are also eligible to get a contribution up to 10 percent more of their annual base pay based on the profitability of the company. Employees become eligible one month after their hire date.

Continuing Education: Restaurant chain McDonald’s offers an “English Under the Arches” program as part of Archways to Opportunity tuition program to helping its employees learn English.  Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, offers the Life Unboxed EDU tuition reimbursement program to its hourly employees.

“Many fast-food giants are now going beyond boosting wages to retain employees, enticing workers with tuition benefits,” (Farran Powell, “4 Fast Food Jobs That Pay for College,” U.S. News and World Report, 3/8/2016).

Flexibility: Family owned and operated supermarket chain Wegmans has been recognized for providing even more flexibility to workers by using an online system for employees to submit changes pertaining to their availability and scheduling and allowing unanticipated time off as needed by talking with their manager. One of the reasons many people choose to work in the service industry is for the flexibility it offers.  While some want to work full time, others prefer part time work because they need to meet other personal obligations while still having a job. This flexibility is especially important for those individuals who are a primary caregiver, those furthering their education, those in retirement looking to lighten their time commitment while supplementing their retirement savings, and younger workers looking to gain work experience and earn a paycheck while juggling school, extracurricular, and family schedules.