CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Under pressure to deliver a pay bump after fellow retail giant the Gap granted its wage slaves a raise to $9 an hour, Swedish retailer Ikea is prepared to up the ante for its workers by pushing their average minimum pay to over $10 an hour.
But there’s a catch. To get the raise, employees will have to win a contest based on a race to assemble the flat-pack furniture that represents a cornerstone of the company’s reputation and sales.
“We demand excellence from our employees,” explained Ikea President Peter Agnefjall. “That means they have to know all our products inside out. If they can pass the assembly test, they get the raise.”
The test will be the centerpiece of a new reality show called “Some Assembly Required” that is scheduled to air on the DIY network this fall.
In the show, Ikea employees will have to make their way through a “Wipeout”-style obstacle course that will also feature an undetermined number of furniture assembly stations.
Their progress through the course will be timed, and their construction efforts graded by experts from the DIY network, with start-over penalties for both leftover parts and failure to negotiate obstacles.
“Think of it as a cross between ‘Tough Mudder,’ ‘Wipeout,’ and the best of our home improvement shows,” said Kathleen Finch, who oversees the DIY Network as CEO of the Scripps Networks.
“We’ve already lined up Gino Panaro, aka ‘The King of Dirt’ as one of the judges, and we’re currently in negotiations with several other potential celebrity judges. Call it the ultimate way to earn a pay raise.”