- Tyson Foods will give out approximately $50 million in year-end bonuses to its frontline and hourly workers, according to a Dec. 6 news release. Based on tenure, the bonuses will range from $300 to $700.
- The company has introduced a number of improvements to its compensation and benefits slate in 2021, including $200 incentive payments to vaccinated employees and support with child care. It is also offering more flexible schedules at some facilities and will introduce paid sick leave in 2022.
- The changes accompany some strides the company has made in training and development. In February, Tyson launched Upward Pathways, an on-site professional development program, with pilot operations at 10 sites. Focused on workplace elements like safety, digital fluency and soft skills, the program is intended to foster "advancement within the company," Tyson said.
While Tyson Foods is dealing with many of the same aspects of the talent shortage as other companies, the corporation has had a rocky few years due to controversies that erupted during the pandemic.
The company found itself under a spotlight after the family of a Tyson worker who died after being infected with COVID-19 filed a wrongful death lawsuit in November 2020. The suit alleged managerial behavior that included explicitly directing supervisors to ignore symptoms of COVID-19 and organizing a "cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19." (Tyson fired seven plant managers at the Waterloo, Iowa, facility after completing an "independent investigation" last December; the manager accused of starting the betting pool later denied the context of the story provided in the complaint.)
The lawsuit also drew attention to Tyson's safety practices in response to COVID-19, including allegedly requiring workers to work long hours in "cramped conditions" and failing to provide personal protective equipment. More than one-third of workers at the plant — 1,000 people — contracted the coronavirus, according to the local health department.
In addition, Tyson was hit with a discrimination lawsuit early this year from two Black, Muslim former employees, who alleged they were regularly called racial slurs by a manager during the four years they worked at the North Carolina plant, raising questions about the environment for people of color at the company.
The reputational damage comes at a time when the company is badly in need of workers, due to rising demand for its products.
The year-end bonuses and other newly announced incentives join a number of initiatives Tyson introduced in an attempt to improve culture and worker experience and attract new workers. Early in 2021, the company announced it would offer free, on-site COVID-19 vaccinations to workers at its plants in Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina and Iowa. In late October, Tyson said 96% of its workforce had been vaccinated against the virus.
Tyson also has said it will conduct a racial equity audit — a move it made in response to a proposal from a group of shareholders and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.