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Wage Justice

Wage Justice

Wage Justice 1500 1125 Kristen Blacksher

By Lori A. Malcom, Director of Retail Operations
Northeast Region – Council of Boston

Employee wages are one of the store’s largest budgeted expenses. How do you know if you are paying a just wage?

Overpaying for a position is just that, overpaying, the cost for which is quantifiable. If you know what the wage should be.

Underpaying a position can be even more costly. High turnover rates have a negative effect on the bottom line, as well as employee morale. So, what should you do?

First you need to understand that for most of our non-exempt positions, minimum wage is not meant to be a living wage for our employees. Minimum wage fluctuates throughout the USA. States adjust the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) for cost-of-living considerations within the states however, many states use the federal minimum wage for their state. This can make determining where you stand with your wages very daunting.

Thankfully, there are resources if you are open to the objective data they provide.

Recently the Council of Boston subcontracted a comprehensive wage survey of all positions and targeted the mid-range for all positions.

Job descriptions including job duties, responsibilities and accountability were produced, and submitted to the contractor. The contractor used a very comprehensive and detailed approach, including national, regional, and local employment databases.

The result was a compensation report for each job description. In our case, we were a little more than 10% under the midrange, overall.

Some positions were close to the midrange, where others were under.

This was quite a revelation. We used this tool to make recommended changes to our wage scale, and budgeted increases beginning October 1, 2023.

Our employees have been very gracious, and the atmosphere is incredibly positive. We have reduced our unfilled positions by 75% and our employee turnover has almost disappeared.

The cost for this wage survey was $6,000 for sixty-six employees, which may seem like a lot to spend, but it has been an extremely helpful tool for us.

Although some best practices can be regional, this one applies to all regions regardless of the demographics surveyed.


We hope you are planning to attend the National Assembly in August in Phoenix, AZ.  The National Stores Committee is actively planning for a great program for you.

In addition to our daylong program on Wednesday, we will have opportunities to visit a store and have workshops planned for Thursday.

Topics may include small and large store issues like merchandising, budgeting, POS, advertising, training, store layouts, budgeting, staffing, volunteers, productivity, vehicle tracking, E-Comm, loyalty cards and voucher processing, vehicle tracking.

We encourage you to talk to your store managers and leadership about attending the National Assembly. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with and meet others around the country to share best practices.

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