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Employees rewarded with $50 million in Woolworths shares and gifts

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) will be rewarding its Australian and New Zealand staff with $50 million in shares and gift cards. Here’s why Woolworths is rewarding its workers and what it could do for the company’s share price.   

Why is Woolworths rewarding its staff?

Earlier this week Woolworths Group CEO, Brad Banducci released a statement announcing the company will reward its employees for their hard work during the bushfires and coronavirus pandemic. Banducci said the reward is in recognition of “extraordinary efforts and contributions during a year of unprecedented challenges.”

The supermarket giant will be rewarding more than 100,000 employees. As part of its rewards system, Woolworths will be giving full-time members up to $750 worth of shares in the company. Part-time members will be allocated shares on a pro-rata basis.  In addition, all Australian full and part-time workers will receive a $250 Woolworths gift card, with casuals to receive a $100 gift card.

Once completed, the share reward program will see Woolworths boast one of Australia’s biggest worker-dominated share registers.

How has Woolworths performed?

The coronavirus pandemic saw staff members inundated as panicked shoppers flocked to buy essential items. The unprecedented surge in demand was reflected in the company’s third-quarter sales results in late April. Woolworths reported its strongest quarterly sales growth through group sales surging more than 10% to $16.5 billion for the quarter.

Woolworths also received a $5 million boost from its stake in subscription-based meal kit provider Marley Spoon AG (ASX: MMM). In 2019, Woolworths invested $30 million in Marley Spoon through a debt and equity transaction. The Marley Spoon share price has since surged as the company enjoyed a boom in demand for at-home meal consumption.

Despite strong sales growth in its supermarket and liquor divisions, Woolworths has also incurred increased costs. According to the company’s management, increased costs for wages, security, supply chain and e-commerce will partially offset sales growth.

Should you buy Woolworths shares?

Many companies on the ASX say they put the well-being of their workers and customers first, however, few put their money where their mouth is. Although, Woolworths is far from perfect. The supermarket giant is in the midst of backpay claims after underpaying 5,700 workers $315 million over the past 10 years. However, despite these issues, I think the rewards program is a great initiative from Woolworths that should see the company win over new suitors.

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Motley Fool contributor Nikhil Gangaram has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Woolworths Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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