Target may just be the best place to work in retail

Discussion
Photo: Target
Aug 06, 2021

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.

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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Firms helping employees with personal development, whether it be college or otherwise, is beneficial for everyone concerned."
"Maintaining the employer-employee relationship as a productive, sticky and mutually beneficial one will give Target a competitive edge in the short and long run."
"The best place to work is often to be the best place to buy."

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13 Comments on "Target may just be the best place to work in retail"


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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

So impressive. Great leadership. Great at understanding what is important to young people and a true pioneer in a new way of treating frontline associates.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Wow. Potential student loan debt transferred into solid work and life experience. Now that’s progress.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Today’s employment situation is tough for many companies, way beyond retail. Money is important but just as important, if not more, are the benefits, which include working conditions, medical, education, and — really importantly — how the company (and leaders/managers) make employees feel. The best place to work is often to be the best place to buy. This will bode well for Target on two fronts: employee retention and customer retention.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

I like that Shep, “the best place to work is often the best place to buy.” True words!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Thank you, DeAnn!

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

The quality of your employees, in the long run, determines the quality of your customer. Target has been making all of the right moves when it comes not only to the branding of their product but also the branding of the employee experience. This is a win for Target and a win for their employees.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Like most retailers, Target is having to pull out all the stops for hiring and retention. From everything I hear, it is a good place to work – but these extra steps make it even more attractive. Firms helping employees with personal development, whether it be college or otherwise, is beneficial for everyone concerned.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Does Target have an employee recruiting and retention edge over rival retailers? You bet, and a big one at that! It will produce “cream of the crop” associates, public word will get out and surely impact the hearts of consumers, and the associates have a great incentive to perform well and keep this incredible opportunity. Bravo!

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

This is HUGE. Companies that attract superior talent can nurture them and keep them for management roles. This is nothing short of a game changer.

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

Very impressive and should positively impact its business – as a consumer, Target just moved further up my list as a place to shop!

Jeff Hall
BrainTrust

This is a transformative move for such a large retailer. Target has not just raised the bar, they’ve placed themselves into an entirely new category of what it means to be an employer of choice. I applaud the company for demonstrating servant leadership at scale, at a pivotal time in assessing the meaning of employee/employer relationships across every industry.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Makes complete sense. As the key SG&A cost for retailers, employees when supported can transform the company, drive great customer service and deliver the best experiences. Why wouldn’t you invest in employee benefits is the real question. Expect lower turnover and employee churn, better engagement at the counter, more care in job duties from restocking shelves to engaging customers at the checkout. Do they have an edge in the market over retailers who don’t provide such benefits? You bet! Maintaining the employer-employee relationship as a productive, sticky and mutually beneficial one will give Target a competitive edge in the short and long run. Small price for a big and long lasting reward.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is impressive. Target shows the industry how to put your frontline staff first and recognizes that retail jobs don’t have to be “just a job” — it can be, and is, a career. As retailers approach the holiday shopping season with an eye to a likely shortage of seasonal labor, this delivers a powerful incentive to potential applicants to consider working at Target. There are a growing handful of leading retailers that are not just talking about being a great place to work, but taking actions to prove it. Target is one of those leaders.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Firms helping employees with personal development, whether it be college or otherwise, is beneficial for everyone concerned."
"Maintaining the employer-employee relationship as a productive, sticky and mutually beneficial one will give Target a competitive edge in the short and long run."
"The best place to work is often to be the best place to buy."

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