Great Western Bank invests in employees by raising minimum wage

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Companies around the country are taking a second look at wages, thanks to the recent passage of the tax reform bill.

Walmart announced Thursday it is raising starting salaries from $9 to $11 an hour.

But it's not just big national companies investing in their employees. One local company is also giving back to its employees.

You've seen the signs, and maybe you bank at Great Western Bank, but the next time you stop in, you will be helped by someone who is getting paid a little more too.

"Because first and foremost they're the ones that make us successful, that's why we're here," Great Western Bank Head of People and Culture Andy Pederson said.

This week, the Sioux Falls-based bank announced it is raising its minimum wage from $12 to $15 an hour, thanks to the recent tax reform measures.

The company is also offering a one-time $500 bonus or wage increase for 88 percent of its employees.

"This is a great way to say 'thank you' to our employees for what they do, but we also want to make sure we're supporting the communities we're in," Pederson said.

Great Western's announcement comes at the same time other companies are considering similar wage hikes.

"For corporations, these tax changes are a big deal, they're also somewhat expected, so I think many business are still trying to figure out exactly how they are going to handle this," Jodi Schwan with SiouxFalls.Business said.

Walmart's pay hike follows Target, which raised its minimum hourly wage to $11 last year.

It plans to raise wages to $15 by the end of 2020.

"I think to stay competitive, many of them are finding that they're going to have to increase pay," Schwan said.

Because the cost now, is an investment in the future.

"It not only helps us get new employees in but we hope to retain even more employees and give them that," Pederson said.

Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have recently announced similar pay hikes.

Many employers are under pressure to boost employee benefits. Since unemployment rates are at historic lows, applicants can be pickier.