Target is the latest retailer to offer employees free college tuition

Target, following in the footsteps one of its biggest competitors, announced Wednesday it would pay college tuition for more than 340,000 U.S-based full-time and part-time employees who work in Target stores, distribution centres, and headquarters starting this fall.

This move follows Walmart’s announcement that it will cover college tuition and books starting Aug. 16.

Target has committed $200 million to the tuition assistance program over the next four-years. This will cover business-related undergraduate and associate degrees, as well as high school, college prep, English language learning classes and select certificates from more than 40 partner colleges, universities, and schools. Textbooks and course fees are also covered.

Melissa Kremer, Target’s Chief HR Officer, stated in a press release that Target employees have built their careers at Target. She also said that many of them would love to continue their education. Target can help to make education affordable for all by lowering the cost of tuition.

Total Retail’s View: As big-box retailers try to retain and attract enough hourly workers in tight labor markets, attractive employee benefits like free college education are fast becoming the norm. Target recently spent $75 million to give bonuses to frontline employees.

Target will pay up to $10,000 annually for Master’s degrees at non-participating schools in addition to the program’s partner schools.

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How Flex Economy workers help retailers improve margins

The COVID-19 pandemic began in grocery stores overnight. They became “frontline workers” and had to deal with everything, from empty shelves due to supply chain disruptions to the enforcement of purchase limits and social distancing mandates. Retailers are currently facing a labor shortage at an important moment in the nation’s recovery. With the number of people getting vaccinated increasing and the stores going back to business as usual, this stage of the crisis is characterized by a rising labor shortage.

According to Business Insider, 94% of 50 U.S. major retailers reported difficulty filling vacant positions in April’s Korn Ferry survey. Retailers are now trying new ways to attract employees. However, these perks come with a price: they reduce grocers already slim profit margins.

Many retailers are looking for alternative staffing solutions because of the increased overhead costs involved in finding and attracting qualified workers. Flex labor is available in-store and helps retailers make better use of their resources. Flex labor has been used by retailers, national and regional, for a variety of tasks in the store, including inventory counting and resets. These workers are usually part-time or full-time employees who work according to a company’s schedule.

The trend is now moving towards the Instacart, DoorDash, and Uber models. It is also rising. According Workmarket retail is one the eight main industries that are at risk of being disrupted by an influx in on-demand workers.

This is not surprising. According to OTHRSource research, revenue is directly linked to a store’s shelf condition. We estimate over $50,000 per day is lost due to poorly executed shelf health and other merchandising-related tasks. These tasks are prime targets of flex support.

Flex economy has many other advantages. This model allows retailers to scale up or down more efficiently to meet seasonal spikes or other major shopping events like natural disasters or to staff new stores. Local workers can often be found within a few miles from the store where they will be working to fill in any gaps. Flex support is also significantly cheaper when you consider the costs of recruiting, onboarding, training, managing, and maintaining them. Retailers have the opportunity to outsource flex workers and ensure that critical store operations, such as customer service, are not neglected.

A technology platform supports the best retailers that operate flex economies, similar to Uber. The right platform should not stop working once the passenger has been dropped off. The right platform should take the opportunity to assist retailers in growing their businesses by using the assignment.

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A technology platform, in conjunction with field teams can assist retailers to make predictions and make recommendations to optimize their in-store operations. Technology that provides real-time insight into retailers’ stores and better visibility into the competitors can provide valuable insights. It can also provide detailed aisle reviews and data-based suggestions about how to manage shelf and inventory health. This is all without compromising the quality of customer services.

Although much of the work that goes into running a store may not be visible, it is just as important for a business’s success as what happens inside the store. Retailers are finding creative ways to allocate limited resources given the labor shortages they are currently facing. Retailers can leverage flex workers to ensure uninterrupted store operations, healthy shelves and improved business intelligence. They also have the ability reduce overhead and maximize revenue by leveraging flexible workers.