Lidl GB is rewarding its staff for the firm’s strong performance during the pandemic, providing thousands of frontline store workers with a one-off ‘thank you’ payment of £200. A further payment of £100 has been allocated to the brand’s 1,800 UK office staff.

Covering around 25,000 employees in total, the rewards seek to recognise their “tireless efforts to keep the nation fed and provide a safe shopping experience for customers up and down the country”. The £5.5 million initiative follows the firm’s decision to issue a £150 voucher to each member of staff at the dawn of the UK’s Covid-19 outbreak in March last year, to boost morale at a time of widespread panic buying.

In a statement, Lidl GB CEO Christian Härtnagel said: “Everyone in the food retail sector has been in the privileged position of being able to continue operating throughout this pandemic. However, it has been an extremely challenging period and our teams have done a phenomenal job … I am incredibly proud of the dedication and commitment our colleagues have shown and continue to show and this payment is about recognising their unrelenting hard work and thanking each individual for the important part they’ve played in the year like no other.” (Lidl Press Office, 26 January 2021)

Lidl’s move comes just a couple of weeks after Morrisons committed to guaranteeing staff wages of at least £10 per hour – a decision that, according to the i news site, “has piled the pressure on the supermarket giant’s rivals to follow suit after a bumper 12 months of profits for the sector”. (i, 13 January 2021)

Announcing that the new wage structure will be introduced in April, Morrisons CEO David Potts said: “It’s a symbolic and important milestone that represents another step in rewarding the incredibly important work that our colleagues do up and down the country.”

Earlier in January, home and garden retailer B&M revealed that it would pay staff an extra week’s wages in recognition of their hard work during the pandemic, with the firm’s chief executive Simon Arora hinting that the reward was key to the sustainability of the business.

“Our trading performance is testament to the hard work and commitment of all our employees,” he said. “Notwithstanding our status as an essential retailer, with lockdown restrictions in the UK having tightened there remain uncertainties ahead … [but] we are confident that our business model will prove highly relevant to the needs of customers in 2021.” (Employee Benefits, 8 January 2021)

What can leaders in retail – and indeed other sectors – learn from how these firms have chosen to honour their employees’ efforts?

The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper said: “These reward payments are very good examples of where the rhetoric of appreciation that we sometimes hear from organisations is being matched in practical terms. Three words in particular stand out from these announcements:

  • Symbolic As Morrisons’ David Potts says, the firm’s commitment to a base-level wage of £10 per hour is a symbol of appreciation – it’s not all-encompassing, but it’s an important step that sends out a strong signal.
  • Recognising In the words of Lidl GB’s Christian Härtnagel, the company is recognising the contribution that its people are making in a really concrete way.
  • Sustainability B&M wants its employees to continue to feel valued and rewarded, and it is in actions such as providing them with an extra week’s wages that this feeling will be secured for the long term – thereby boosting staff commitment.”

Cooper explains: “We can see from Lidl GB’s figures that they have made a significant investment in their ‘thank you’ reward. But it doesn’t have to be a huge prize. It’s actually more a question of coverage. To be able to reward and recognise everybody is a much more inclusive – and therefore sustainable – gesture than to pick out certain individuals for exceptional levels of reward.

She adds: “These three firms’ efforts to appreciate their staff in ways that are tangible and inclusive is sending out an important message: that they genuinely value their staff, and will continue to value them in the future. And with that message in mind, the word ‘sustainability’ is very significant indeed.”

For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on managing performance

Source refs:

Lidl Press Office, 26 January 2021

i, 13 January 2021

Employee Benefits, 8 January 2021

Image of Lidl signage courtesy of Ian Francis, via Shutterstock