is defying recent data about dissatisfaction among frontline workers and is investing in them anyway with four new initiatives.
Starting next month, Walmart will begin investing in higher wages for associates, the world’s largest retailer said. This includes a mixture of associates’ regular annual increases and targeted investments in starting rates for thousands of stores “to ensure we have attractive pay in the markets where we operate,” said John Furner, president and CEO, Walmart U.S., in a memo to store associates. “We expect these raises will bring our U.S. average hourly wage to more than $17.50. They’ll be reflected in March 2 paychecks.”
A survey by Forrester for Workjam last week found that frontline workers are dissatisfied and feel disconnected from retailers’ headquarters, where some top store executives take an ivory tower approach to staffers further down towards the bottom of the totem pole.
“At Walmart, we know our people make the difference,” Furner said. “That’s never been more true than today – your talent and dedication to your customers is helping them live better lives every day. Today, I’m happy to share our latest steps to shape jobs at Walmart – four new ways we’re investing in you.”
Furner said Walmart is continuing to invest in associates who run the Auto Care Centers (ACC). “Last fall we created a higher-paying ACC coach role,” he said. “Now, we’re introducing a higher-paying ACC team lead position and elevating the ACC tech position to a higher pay-band that reflects the special skills needed for the role and its importance to our business.”
In addition, Walmart is adding new college degrees and certificates to its Live Better U (LBU) education program. The new options are focused on “where the business is headed and will equip associates with skills to unlock new career opportunities,” Furner said. “Both part-time and full-time associates can participate in LBU on their first day. Walmart pays 100% of the tuition and fees.”
Lastly, Walmart is expanding its Associate-to-Driver Program, which pays for supply chain associates to earn their commercial driver’s license and become Walmart truck drivers, earning up to $110,000 in their first year. This development program is now also available to store associates.
Some years ago, Walmart was considered one of the worst U.S. companies to work for. The world’s largest retailer was accused by activists of paying associates low wages and many of them couldn’t afford health insurance.
The retailer began its rehabilitation with very public announcements of wage increases and quality of life initiatives in the workplace. Scheduling may still be a problem, and employees who experienced discrimination or other employment issues at Walmart continue to file lawsuits against the retailer. In recent years, Walmart has faced a number of lawsuits over its employment practices, ranging from gender discrimination to wage and hour violations.
The Covid-19 pandemic shined a light on frontline retail workers, the challenges they face and how critical they are to an organization. According to the Forrester/Workjam survey, not much has been done to make their jobs more satisfying, and a small minority of retailers said they plan to invest in frontline associates this year.
And as you continue to focus on your customers, we’re focused on investing in you – our store associates – through higher wages and new opportunities to gain the skills to serve tomorrow’s customers and grow a career with Walmart.