More

5 successful corporations show what can happen when employees are paid a living wage.

These companies are great places to work — and that doesn't hurt their bottomline.

True
Civic Ventures

We've heard this idea many times: industries must pay workers a minimum wage to keep their prices low and profits high.

The argument goes that if companies are required to pay employees more, there will be fewer jobs available or prices will have to go up.

Image via iStock.


But is that true?

A 2016 National Employment Law Project study looked at job growth trends every time the federal minimum wage increased (since it was first established in 1938). It found no correlation between federal minimum wage increases and lower employment levels.

Instead, the data suggests that employment actually increased about 68% of the time in the year after a minimum wage increase.

This is because when companies increase wages, workers spend their additional earnings, increasing demand. This, in turn increases business, creating jobs and innovation.

Image via iStock.

Luckily, many companies are choosing to do better by their employees — not only becoming great places to work but also proving this "trickle-down" theory of business wrong:

1. In-N-Out

Image via iStock.

In-N-Out has been named one of Glassdoor’s 2017 Best Places to Work, which is determined by employee ratings. This isn’t the first time the chain has been praised for being a great place to work; year after year, it ranks high on Glassdoor’s rankings.

The average In-N-Out associate makes around $12 an hour according to Glassdoor, which is above the national minimum wage of $7.25. The company is also known for promoting managers from within, creating job growth opportunities for its employees, and according to the OC Register, managers are paid well above the national average for restaurants.

The company's benefits include retirement accounts, health plans, and three weeks' vacation a year for those who have worked for the company more than six years. This fast food organization is also renowned for prioritizing work-life balance and a healthy work culture. Managers who meet their goals even get the additional perk of an all-expenses-paid trip abroad, according to Thrillist.

Photo via iStock.

In-N-Out demonstrates how it's possible to operate a profitable, popular food chain without mistreating employees or relying on the trickle-down minimum wage myth.

2. Costco

Costco takes care of its employees and pays a living wage, which just this past March, rose again. The company’s entry-level pay is now $13 an hour for new and current employees, up from $11.50.  And most of Costco’s employees receive health benefits and pension plans.

Higher-paid workers at Costco — who make around $22.50 an hour — are also reported to be receiving a raise of about 2.5% this year.

Image via iStock.

Keeping its employees happy is important to Costco. “We think this will help, and it’s important to do,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti told CNN Money. “We want to be the premium at all levels.”

The wage increases don’t seem to be hurting business either. Costco is the second largest U.S. retailer — second only to Walmart, which also reportedly raised wages this past year for hourly workers. In addition, in March, the company reported an overall increase in cardholders from 82.7 million to 84 million — showing that keeping employees happy can make customers happy too.

3. Trader Joe’s

Image via iStock.

This popular grocery store also treats its workers with respect and fairness. While Trader Joe's is somewhat secretive about the way it runs its business, it is clear that the company goes out of its way to foster loyalty among its employees by making it a good working environment. They offer a fair wage (starting salaries are around $13 an hour), along with health and vacation benefits and relatively flexible schedules.

Turnover at Trader Joe's is around 4% yearly, according to a study published in a Pepperdine University business journal — which is substantially below that of traditional supermarkets. This means that the company doesn’t have to as much waste time and money training new employees and can invest more in the ones it already has.

4. Starbucks

Image via iStock.

Offering a strong benefit package is an example of what this coffee giant means when it refers to its employees as “partners.” Starbucks offers bonuses, 401(k) matching, discounted stock purchase options, adoption assistance, college tuition reimbursement, health coverage for families, and of course, free coffee.

What makes its benefits packages even better though is that you don’t have to be a full-time employee to receive it — part-time employees that work at least 20 hours a week can get the benefits too. And, since Starbucks started offering its college tuition reimbursement program, its employee retention rate has improved, according to The Atlantic.

5. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s gets a gold star when it comes to taking care of its employees. The ice cream company pays all its full-time workers a livable wage — $16.92 in 2015 — that is more than double the federal minimum wage. It also recalculates this livable wage every year to make sure it is keeping up with the actual cost of living, factoring in things like food, housing, and fuel costs.

Image via iStock.

Full-time employees also get health benefits, along with a bunch of other neat perks too, including a dog-friendly office (what's better than taking your furry friend to the office?), an employee nap room, a massage room, and lots of free ice cream (three pints per person, per day, to be precise).

None of these policies have held Ben & Jerry’s back like trickle-down economics says it should. “We outsell the overall U.S. ice cream market and profits are at the top end of the industry,” wrote board member Jeff Furman in an op-ed in Fortune. “Globally, we operate in more than 30 countries.”

By investing in their employees, these companies are reaping the benefits — turnover is down, productivity is up, and workers are loyal, motivated, and proud of their work.

Image via iStock.

And these companies have done all this while still keeping customers happy and building their businesses.

These five corporations are not only liked by their employees, but they are also shining examples of what can happen when we start to question the myth that low wages are the only way for companies to thrive.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less
Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Peter Bence's performance of "Africa" is both entertaining and impressive.

Toto's "Africa" is one of the most beloved pop songs of all time. In fact, it's been touted by at least one neural scientist and by countless music fans as the No. 1 song ever written.

For a song released in the early 1980s, it has stood the test of time consistently, never feeling dated or constrained by its decade. "Africa" is practically in a genre of its own, which is probably why it's been covered so many times in so many styles by so many artists.

One rendition that's getting viral attention—not for the first time—may be unlike any you've ever seen.

Peter Bence is a Hungarian pianist and composer who performs "Africa" as a solo piece on the piano—only it's not a piano solo piece in the traditional sense, as he uses the piano in totally different ways than what we're used to seeing.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less