Target may just be the best place to work in retail
Target’s news this week that it will cover all the tuition, textbooks and fees for employees pursuing college degrees or certificates may appear to be a me-too move in response to a similar announcement last week by Walmart. On the surface that is true, but when you consider that Target pays a minimum starting wage of $15 an hour, more than Walmart, it isn’t hard to make a case that the smaller of the two rivals has the current edge when it comes to recruiting top notch talent to its front lines.
The retailer’s new debt free college program goes into effect this fall. All 340,000 full- and part-time workers employed by the retailer are eligible to participate in the program built in participation with Guild Education, an educational and upskilling platform. New recruits to Target will be eligible for the benefit on the first day they report to work. The company expects to invest $200 million over the next four years to support its workers in this effort.
Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer at Target, said that the retailer employs people during all stages of life and is committed to help develop them professionally “whether they’re with us for a year or a career.”
She added that “team members are the heart of Target’s strategy and success” and the company is committed to investing in them in ways that make a difference in their professional and personal lives.
The educational benefit program and other worker-friendly steps that the retailer is taking are part of Target Forward, a new corporate initiative that includes creating “an equitable and inclusive workforce.” Aside from pursuing debt free degrees and professional certificates, employees of the chain go through millions of hours in annual training, according to the retailer, including “functional learning courses,” leadership development, mentoring and more.
Target signaled a little more than a year ago its intention to be seen as the best place to work in retail. The chain had made good on a commitment made in 2017 to raise its starting wage to $15. The retailer has also issued a series of five “recognition bonuses” of $200 since last year for full- and part-time frontline store and warehouse associates and those working its customer service phone lines.
- Target Launching Debt-Free Education Assistance Program to More Than 340,000 Frontline Team Members – Target Corporation
- What can rival retailers learn from Walmart’s free college degree program? – RetailWire
- Target wants to be known as the best place to work in retail – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Target have an employee recruiting and retention edge over rival retailers? How will the steps the retailer has taken in recent years affect its business in the short- and longer-term?