Aug 20, 2021 - Economy

Labor shortage has employers scrambling to offer new perks

Illustration of a briefcase being lifted from the ground by balloons

Balloons tied to a suitcase. Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies are rolling out perks at a feverish clip to lure employees.

Why it matters: The economy is roaring back. Companies are pulling out all stops to win over the workers they need to meet demand.

What’s happening: Walmart and Target say they will pay tuition for certain college programs for millions of employees.

  • Businesses are also offering extended time off, free Pelotons or one-time bonuses to attract workers — and keep the ones they have.

Yes, but: What’s actually enticing workers is the most old-fashioned perk: higher wages.

  • "After we made our announcement [to raise pay] back in April, we're getting close to full staffing levels,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors.

The intrigue: Nearly 2 in 3 workers say they are looking for a new job, per a new survey by PwC. Employees said more money was the top reason they considered quitting.

  • The survey also finds a huge gulf between what employees want and what companies are offering.
  • Touting company values and culture, plus offering location flexibility, are the most common ways employers say they are trying to retain and attract workers.
  • But that’s on the bottom of the priority list for employees. At the top: more flexible schedules, higher pay and expanded benefits.

By the numbers: Employers are meeting the moment by steadily raising wages. In July, pay was 4% higher than this time last year.

  • Wages in the hospitality sector — where worker shortage complaints are most acute — are 10% higher from last July as hiring rebounds.
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