As reported by CNBC, Home Depot on Tuesday said it will spend an additional $1 billion to give its hourly employees a raise.
The home improvement retailer announced the wage investment as it reported fourth-quarter earnings. It did not disclose the new average wage for employees but said every market’s starting wage is at least $15 an hour.
Hourly workers will see the increase, which went into effect Feb. 6, this month in their paychecks, Home Depot said.
The news provides additional data that the labor market is still tight in some sectors, despite numerous headlines of layoffs from large tech companies. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, recently announced it would raise its minimum wage to $14 an hour for store employees and have an average U.S. hourly wage of more than $17.50.
Home Depot is one of the country’s largest private employers with about 475,000 workers. The vast majority of its employees are hourly workers at its approximately 2,300 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Its frontline employees, who will receive the wage increases, also work in supply chain, customer care and merchandising roles.
Amazon Receiving Pushback on Return-to-Office Mandate
Amazon employees on Tuesday continued to sound off about CEO Any Jassy’s recently announced return-to-office mandate, going as far as to convey their opposition to the new policy over the company’s internal website, CNBC reported.
A group of tech workers created a Slack channel and drafted an internal petition pushing back on the mandate, which requires them to be back in the office at least three days a week beginning May 1. The petition urges Jassy and Amazon’s leadership team, known as the S-team, to drop the mandate, just days after it was announced.
The group has since amassed 16,000 members, and about 5,000 employees have signed the petition as of Tuesday night, according to CNBC.
Employee dissatisfaction with the mandate spilled over onto the e-retailer’s internal news feed for employees, called Inside Amazon, where workers repeatedly commented on a recording of Jassy’s recent all-hands meeting.
“By arbitrarily forcing return-to-office without providing data to support it and despite clear evidence that it is the wrong decision for employees, Amazon has failed its role as earth’s best employer,” according to screenshots viewed by CNBC. “I believe this decision will be detrimental to our business and is antithetical to how we make decisions at Amazon.”
Staffers who posted in the Slack channel said they were caught off guard by the announcement. Many expressed frustration that they’d have to find arrangements for childcare, caregivers for aging parents, or potentially move in order to be within commuting distance of the office.
Previously, Amazon had left it up to individual managers to decide how often their teams would be required to come into the office. Jassy had also embraced remote and hybrid work, though he acknowledged Amazon was in a “stage of experimenting, learning and adjusting” and that the company’s return-to-office approach could change.
Amazon is the most high-profile employer that has asked workers to return to the office but it is far from the only one as labor market dynamics shift and employers, especially in the tech sector, attempt to reassert pre-pandemic work expectations.
How these employers go about their return-to-office plans could heavily influence the direction and culture of the organization, experts note.
UK’s Four-Day Workweek Experiment Deemed a Hit
The United Kingdom’s four-day workweek trial came to a close recently and many of the employers participating don’t want it to stop, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In one of the largest trials of a four-day workweek to date, 61 British businesses ranging from banks to fast-food restaurants to marketing agencies gave their 2,900 workers a paid day off a week to see whether they could get just as much done while working less, but more effectively.
More than 90% said they would continue testing the shorter week, while 18% planned to make it permanent, according to a new report from the study’s organizers. Nearly three-fourths (71%) reported reduced employee burnout rates and 60% said it became easier to balance responsibilities at work and home while high productivity and performance remained.
Companies in the U.S. and Canada recently concluded a smaller pilot of a four-day week led by the U.K. study organizers, and similar trials are in the works in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere. Consumer-goods company Unilever PLC recently tested the concept in its New Zealand offices, while Spain’s government plans to pay companies to experiment with a four-day week. In a study in Iceland involving more than 2,500 employees across industries, researchers found most workers maintained or improved their productivity and reported reduced stress.
In the U.K. study, which ran from June through November, most employees didn’t work more intensively, researchers said. Rather, they and their bosses sought to make work days more efficient with hacks such as cutting back on meetings and ensuring employees had more time to focus on completing tasks.
On a scale of 0 (very negative) to 10 (very positive), employers on average scored their productivity and performance over the six months at 7.5. A survey conducted halfway through the trial found 46% of companies said their business productivity had remained about the same, while 34% reported a slight improvement and 15% a significant improvement.
Meanwhile, 39% of employees said they were less stressed than before the pilot program started; about half reported no change. Nearly half observed improvement in mental health, and 37% also noted an improvement in physical health.
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