Competitive wages are here to stay, Stephanie Pugliese told us.

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Under Armour is used to competition. But this year, the Baltimore–based company knew the battle for workers would be fiercer than ever.

“I can’t remember a time that it’s been as competitive,” said Stephanie Pugliese, Under Armour’s president of the Americas.

In May, it raised its starting wage to $15/hour, from $10/hour—a move that Pugliese said has put the company in a good position this holiday season. She told us that UA now only needs to fill 100 retail openings, after aiming to hire 2,000 seasonal employees this year.

  • In October, the company also rolled out a short-term incentives program, which offers workers at stores hitting monthly goals a bonus, starting at 8% of their pay.

She tells Retail Brew more about hiring now—and in 2022.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

What does training look like during a hectic holiday season?

I would characterize our training as comprehensive while still being aware that it’s a shorter timeline.

We take our new teammates through how we are providing a safe place to work and shop, then the nuance of product training comes in: Why Under Armour’s product is differentiated, why we build in performance, and how we build performance into all of that we do. We also share product details, particularly on some of the newer products of the season.

We take them through those highlights, but it doesn’t end with the onboarding training. We are consistently sending out product knowledge to our stores that all teammates have access to. That is high-fi to low-fi. We have digital learning, but we also have our employee areas in stores with information about new products posted on bulletin boards. Our teammates are consistently exposed to information and knowledge that they need to help themselves feel more confident, and also most importantly, to serve our consumers.

How do you see labor as a competitive advantage?

At Under Armour, we have seen our retail teammates as talent all along—and some of the most important talent that we have in the business, because they are the people that are greeting and smiling at and providing an incredible experience for athletes and our consumers as they walk into the stores.

We’ve always taken that relationship with our retail teammates very seriously and positively. Some of that has manifested in terms of compensation, but the other piece of it is providing opportunities to learn and grow within our retail stores, but also within other areas of our business. It is providing contests and fun product knowledge updates for our teammates. It is the camaraderie that our store management team offers every single day in our stores that is a competitive advantage for us.

What hiring trend will continue into 2022?

The most obvious is competitive wages and making sure that we are paying a fair wage to our retail teammates. The other thing that I think is going to stick is brands and companies treating their retail teammates with the respect and care that they deserve. Because teammates, employees have choices, and so becoming an employer of choice is not only about fair compensation—that’s kind of a ticket of entry—but it’s also about providing a work environment where teammates feel like they are taken care of.

Source: Morning Brew