'Simons has just upped the ante': Retail giant moves to $16 per hour minimum wage

The retail store Simons is raising its entry-level wage in Quebec to $16 per hour — a move that one expert said could end up saving the company money.

An analyst says the decision to increase entry-level wages could end up saving the company money

Quebec company Simons has agreed to pay all of its employees at least $16 per hour. (CBC)

The retail store Simons is raising its entry-level wage in Quebec to $16 per hour — a move that one expert said could end up saving the company money.

The retail and online giant told Radio-Canada it would not discuss why it chose to raise wages, but did confirm that all of its employees in Quebec will make at least $16 per hour, four dollars above the province's minimum wage of $12.

Marketing professor Robert Soroka believes it's a good move for the company. Given Quebec's labour shortage, he thinks the wage bump will pay off and perhaps even save Simons money in the long-run.

"Simons has just upped the ante," said Soroka.

That's because it takes between six months and two years for an employee to be fully productive, said Soroka. Paying employees more money creates incentive for them to stay.

"You're creating a retention strategy, and you're reducing the need for recruitment," he said. "[It's a] very good strategy."

Marketing Professor Robert Soroka said by raising entry-level salaries, Simons could increase its retention rate in a competitive labour market. (CBC)

Smaller companies get creative to retain talent

The move has also caught the eye of smaller retailers.

The owner of a boutique shoe shop, Mile End Kicks, said he could not afford to pay all of his employees $16 per hour.

Sam Papoutsis's store is doing well, but keeping it afloat requires dedication.

He said who he hires and how much he pays them are key business decisions.

"We're always thinking about our business and how we're going to survive six months, a year from now," he said.

He said he has to find alternative ways to retain employees.

"I offer them a little more flexibility than a bigger corporation would, in terms of vacation, or in terms of other fringe benefits," he said. "You have to be creative. This is a new generation … they expect a different type of employer."


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