Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Retail needs to take the lead on pay - there are too many followers and cost-cutters

In light of a story that has appeared in the news today about wealth, I'm looking at leadership on the issue of pay.

Oxfam report that the richest 1% now has as much wealth as the other 99% combined. This is a moral issue that affects every business, and I believe that it is a leadership issue. Every business has the moral obligation to look after the people that work for them. It's not just pay (which a lot of companies need to go much further on) but working conditions, time off, work-life balance and benefits.

At this moment in time, the UK economy is hugely skewed towards business - particularly big business. Media stories regularly show big business not paying their fair share of tax. The minimum wage has served it's purpose and needs to be replaced by the living wage. The taxpayer is subsidising people with a family to work for these companies through working tax credit.

It's time to take a lead.

Unfortunately many retailers are culprits when it comes to poor pay. The minimum wage seems to be the standard wage for national and multinational retailers. It really isn't good enough. Employees are being squeezed and customers are being squeezed in search of extra profits. Billion pound plus profits for shareholders and company owners while paying frontline employees the barest of minimum wage will be counterproductive in the long run. Having demotivated employees that don't give the same service as customers experienced in the past will lead to declining sales. The bottom line is about far more than just cutting costs.

If you are an independent retailer then look at what you pay end how you incentivise your team. If you work for a larger retailer then it's part of your commitment to your colleagues that you raise the issue if low pay in the correct forums.

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