As the last 2 weeks in particular have made things stunningly clear— the scale and impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been unprecedented — and no one knows how long it will last. Over 1 million U.S. retail employees have been furloughed. Over $430 billion in revenue is projected to be lost in the U.S. over 3 month, and €3.6 billion has been lost to date for retailers in UK, Germany and France.
For now, while we’re all adjusting to life defined by new norms like social distancing and shelter in place, we wanted to spotlight some of the ways companies are going above and beyond to support not only employees, but also small businesses and others reeling from the economic fallout of the virus.
For an exhaustive analysis of which companies are acting as positive models, we recommend a visit to DidTheyHelp.com, where you can find out if your favorite brand has behaved admirably or not – as with this example for Warby Parker.
Outside of those orgs getting good (and bad) press from the crowdsourced website, here are five standout companies who are leading by putting their team members so far.
The French cosmetics giant recently announced a freeze on payments due from its distribution networks, along with an increase in payment frequency to suppliers as needed. The goal is to shelter small and medium-sized companies — think salons, perfume shops and similar — from the worst economic impacts of a deepening crisis.
Meanwhile, L’Oréal’s North American manufacturing facilities have been retrofitted to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which it plans to offer free to U.S. employees, partners and front-line health workers.
Nestlé is the world’s biggest food company, with nearly 300,000 employees globally — many of whom have been affected by work shutdowns at sites around the world, which have been implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus.
To help those employees during these trying times, Nestlé announced it will pay their full wages for at least three months, even while they’re out of work. Notably, the move covers part-time as well as full-time employees, including those working in retail locations.
Meanwhile, Nestlé is also partnering with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide humanitarian relief.
Like Nestlé, many employees at Workday — a vendor of financial and HR management software — have been affected by disruptions related to coronavirus. In response, the company is offering them cash bonuses equivalent to two weeks’ pay for its 10,000-plus employees.
In a statement, the company noted that the money is intended to help offset unforeseen costs for employees — and especially for parents who are now working at home and don’t have childcare support. The one-time payout, which will add an estimated $80 million to the company’s expenses this quarter, is not available to executives.
Unlike many brick-and-mortar retailers, most Walmart locations around the world have remained open, albeit with reduced hours, since the outbreak of COVID-19. Despite that fact, the company recognizes that these are challenging times — and plans to step up accordingly.
For example, the retail giant will shell out $545 million in early and special bonuses to part-time and full-time store, club and supply-chain employees. What’s more, the company has revised its sick pay policies for employees directly affected by coronavirus, and says it intends to hire another 150,000 hourly employees in the near term.
5. Columbia Sportswear Company
Many CEOs are forgoing their salaries in light of the coronavirus outbreak. But in some cases, the symbolic gesture seems somewhat disingenuous — particularly where baseline salary represents only a fraction of those executives’ annual earnings. Not so with Tim Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear Company.
According to an announcement, Boyle’s annual salary has been reduced from $3.3 million to just $10,000 after coronavirus restrictions, and the mass closing of stores put the company’s estimated 3,500 retail employees in jeopardy of losing their jobs and not getting paid. Now, employees will remain on payroll and continue to receive regular paychecks, despite the shuttering of the company’s brick-and-mortar retail locations.
In addition to Boyle, 10 other top executives at Columbia voluntarily took pay cuts to help free up working capital to pay employees.
The list of additional retailers who are paying employees through the downturn includes companies like Levi’s, Madewell, H&M and others, and while there is no guarantee that the payments remain in place indefinitely, it’s great to see industry leader taking steps to care for their people first.
The coronavirus outbreak has put us all in uncharted waters. With business disrupted or on hold for many companies and employees alike, this is the time to reflect on what matters most, what’s the right thing to do and what’s the best way to give back. For now, we’re all doing our best to keep it together, support one another and stay positive during these trying times. We’re looking forward to getting back to business soon, and are already hard at work preparing our clients to be ready when the time is right.