It’s been a good week for the 23,000 people who work for one U.S. retail chain. Even as the national economy continued to plod along and the unemployment rate remained disturbingly high, Hobby Lobby announced it is upping its minimum hourly wage to $14 for full-time employees and $9.50 for part-time workers.
Hobby Lobby has earned a reputation for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry comes only through the payment of bargain-basement wages. This is the fifth straight year that full-time employees have gotten a raise, and the fourth straight year for part-timers.
That means the extra cash comes on top of last year’s company-wide minimum wage, which—at $13 and $9 for full- and part-timers, respectively—was already beating the legal minimum wage in just about every location. (The chief exception was the state of Washington, where the minimum rate adjusts with inflation and currently stands at $9.19.)
Just to be clear, this isn’t a company run by bleeding-heart liberals. The devoutly Christian owners of the privately held company shut down their stores every Sunday and have been leading opponents of the Obama Administration’s plans to require most employer-sponsored health insurance plans to cover contraception.
But when it comes to managing payroll, they also believe that it’s worth it to give employees a little extra. By paying higher wages, their stores can cultivate trust, boost productivity, and ultimately generate higher sales that offset the increased labor costs, they say.
“We are very fortunate to be able to increase hourly wages for our employees, because we know our company would not be successful without the great work they do each day in our stores across the nation,” founder and CEO David Green said in the company’s announcement. “We know that if we reward our employees for their hard work, we will be rewarded in turn with their loyalty and dedication to their job and to our customers.”
The approach is apparently working. Hobby Lobby began as a shoebox of a store in Oklahoma but now has more than 500 super-sized locations across the country. With $3 billion in revenue, it made Forbes’ most recent list of the largest private U.S. companies. The company says it plans to add another 33 stores and 1,200 jobs this year alone.
As Hobby Lobby’s record shows, doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.