In California, the “fight for $15” didn’t have to reach a ballot vote, as was initially expected. Just the prospect of the November ballot incentivized lawmakers to form a plan to raise the minimum wage in a way that would appease groups on both sides of the issue. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB3 into law Monday, April 4, making California the largest state to improve the standard of living for low-wage workers, approximately 3.3 million men and women in California.
Under California’s new law, the minimum wage will rise by 50 cents in each of the next two years to $10.50 in 2017 and $11 in 2018. It will then rise by $1 for the remaining four years to reach $15 in 2022. The law grants small businesses with 25 or fewer employees an additional year to comply.
April 4 also saw the passage of a New York law that gradually raises the minimum wage from $9 to $15. This law is two-tiered, meaning a higher $15 per hour minimum in New York City and a lower legal minimum for less-costly areas. The bill also contains a “safety valve” that from 2019 allows state budget officials to consider the effects of the wage increases on regional economies and determine whether they should continue or be suspended. New York City businesses with up to 10 employees are given four years instead of three to comply.
Employee Accountability Should Rise With Minimum Wage
Not surprisingly, reactions to both laws in California and New York varied dramatically. Low-income workers and their advocates were elated, while business owners and officials expressed disappointment and concern about long-term effects on the competitive environment in each state.
Regardless of where business operators stand on the issue, there’s one point everyone can agree on: When you pay an employee more, you expect a comparable return from your employees. Likewise, customers increasingly demand a better customer service experience. They expect this on their own, but especially when they know workers are making more money. In light of these factors, it just makes sense that accountability within organizations should increase with rising wages.
Employee accountability begins with the onboarding process and clear communication of the standards that reinforce your brand’s mission. It ends with your organization’s ability to account for its own practices and procedures. Employee accountability comes down to having processes you can quantify.
Quantifying includes retail employee performance reviews, but extends well beyond that. It involves auditing the main floor, whether it’s a store or restaurant. It prioritizes cleanliness, whether it’s in the kitchen where employees work or in the restrooms your customers use. It accounts for the exterior of the premises, from the tidiness of the landscaping to the proper disposal of trash.
Are the tasks that support your brand’s image being completed? That’s the question business operators need to answer in order to gain actionable insights.
In theory, minimum wage increases can be good for the economy. When employees earn more, they spend more. The issue is that legislative decisions don’t exist in a vacuum. Businesses want to attract and retain good employees. In order to build and maintain a positive work environment, business owners and operators—especially those in high-turnover segments—must “take the temperature” of their operations. Implementing these processes will ensure that the employer is getting the most return for higher hourly wages.