Walmart’s Human Resource Posture
Walmart is currently the largest private employer in the United States and globally. Walmart has more than a million employees and managing that large workforce could be pretty hard for the company especially due to risks inherent with having such a large workforce. In a bid to ensure that customers are happy and employees perform their jobs effectively, Walmart has endeavored to hold down the costs of producing and thereby making goods affordable. This places it in a unique position of being the biggest employer as well. The company is staunchly anti-union which also consequentially makes it hard for the employees to lobby for improvement of their conditions (Bianco, et al, 2003). This implies that being the largest employer, the company might not be doing enough to ensure that the workforce from which it owes its growth does not get a favorable working environment. Since 2002, Walmart has grown its market share as a supplier of basic household items such as toothpaste, napkins, and towels from just 30% to about 50%. Walmart has had a poor human resource management reputation in the industry recently this is attributed to current human resource strategies are geared towards lowering the inherent costs of doing business.
Walmart’s Benefits and Compensation
In a bid to beat the odds and come up with better human resource management practices, Walmart has come up with benefits and compensation programs. Walmart has been reprimanded amongst the members of the public for its low wages. In 2001, a lawsuit against the company indicated that employees such as clerks were paid about $13,861 per year and for families living in three, this falls below the US poverty level income (Steven & Michael, 10/26/2005). However, with the advent of the new millennium, Walmart has decided to bring about a turnaround in the way human resource practices are done. It has come up with a competitive wage and employment benefits. First, wages of Walmart are equal to or more than the rate of its contenders in the industry. Some revamps to it in the recent past has seen a drop in employee turnover rates from over 30% in 1999 just to 6% in 2014. This is partly due to the rise in hourly wage from about $8.2 an hour to $11. For employees that have worked at Walmart for five years, their pay rises up to $20. This is definitely a competitive wage and a good human resource strategy as far as human resource management is concerned.
Walmart also offers their employees a chance to save on their incomes when making purchases. This comes particularly in handy with the 10% reduction on groceries that they purchase. This gives them an added advantage when working for Walmart. Even though Walmart announced the introduction of cuts in medical insurance reimbursement for the employees is, the company pays up to $3 for the employees for every drug they get prescription (Elaine, 2005). The reimbursements, as well as those benefits, would go a long way in ensuring that the employees save money and are motivated to improve their job performance in the company. Since employee remuneration is the principal cost reduction strategy for the company, human resource compensation and benefits is definitely a dilemma.
Business leadership and strategy
Pretty much, stores such as Walmart are tasked with ensuring that they meet their goals while cutting the costs of production. Business leadership and strategy for the case of Walmart is defined by the ability to operate at a lower cost while also meet the business goals of sustainability and profitability. Just any business leader would agree that auguring the two, sustainability and low cost, is quite hard in the business context. Erika, Rokas, Bartkus, Edverdas &Vaclovas (2012), set out in a bid to find out how Walmart is able to make its business decisions while also ensuring that it achieves the cost leadership strategy and other business sustainability objectives. Leadership and business strategy essentially looks into some of the most important areas of business such as greenhouse gas emission, energy use, and conservation as well as actions that Walmart management and leadership takes in line with this. Walmart has come up with a plan that ensures that its supply chain is effective, efficient and friendly to the environment. This is done by ensuring that transport costs, carbon footprints, and wastage are cut by coming up with hybrid recyclable materials and environmentally friendly packaging.
Besides ensuring that the supply chain is healthy, Walmart also has invested efforts in ensuring that creates value for the customers and the society as a whole. This is evident in the launch and use of the digital supply chain platform. Essentially, this platform allows Walmart to assess the production of the goods it sells. This is by taking a peek into its processing from a natural state to consumption and disposal. Walmart partners with NGOs, expert, and suppliers to ensure that the supply of its products does not threaten the health of the environment nor cause any social harm.
Walmart has come up with a plan of ensuring a multicultural and a diverse workforce. In order to ensure that its workforce is diverse, it partners with some of the bodies such as the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and other bodies. Typically, Walmart comes up with policies with consideration to equal access to opportunity and welfare of all the people from diverse ethnicities. In order to successfully implement such policies, Walmart partners with the aforementioned groups and bodies in the drafting of such policies and coming up with other diversity targets. The diversity of the Walmart employees is depicted by the fact that in more than 1.5 million associates, 22% of those are African American, 14% Hispanic, 4% Asian Americans and 1% Pacific Islanders. Besides that, about 43% of Walmart’s managers are women and 31% of the officers are also female. This makes the organization multicultural. This has been achieved through a consistent focus on ensuring that all the people regardless of their culture, ethnicity and origin have equal access to opportunity.
Besides that, supporting the film industry is also a way through which Walmart demonstrates its cultural inclusivity. The support Walmart gave to film 42 is lauded as an effort to support African Americans that have made it out successfully amidst many obstacles. Apart from supporting the film industry, the store shared Jackie Robinson story with the aim of providing an inspiration to the people that have succeeded in the industry (Atwell, 2013). This is also geared towards ensuring support for those that have faced challenges in the course of reaching out for greatness. Typically, such efforts are geared towards ensuring support for all groups. They depict the commitment of the company to see just any individual succeed regardless of their ethnicity, race, and color.
Walmart has been known to foster competitiveness amongst the employees by coming up with hand training courses for them. However, it has also been known for denying them the much-needed compensations. Walmart in the recent past announced a cut in employee insurance reimbursement for drugs that are prescribed to them from $10 to $30. Walmart is the leading store not only in the United States but also other countries such as China (Bianco, et al, 2003). This prime reason for the growth of this store is cutting in costs and prices that affordable for products that are quality. However, sometimes, cuts in prices have to be done at the expense of the worker.
Even though the low cost of production and efficiency has been the main attributes to the growth of Walmart, it is also important to note that it has grown due to its corporate culture that fosters multiculturalism. Walmart supports bodies and lobby groups that are out to ensure that the corporate world embraces different cultures, ethnicities as well as backgrounds. This is done by mutual respect amongst the employees and a corporate culture which creates favorable working conditions for all the employees. This is partly the reason why Walmart is being applauded for being one of the most culturally diverse organizations in the United States. Besides that, the organization is also out to train employees with the launch of Walmart Academy. This is a purely vocational training branch of Walmart that is geared towards ensuring that the employees get equipped with the necessary skills for job performance and career development.
Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
Walmart has come up with different strategies that are geared towards coming up with the ideal corporate social responsibility. This is done by ensuring that the supply chain is sustainable. Sustainability of the supply chain entails ensuring that all the product it sells is made with consideration to the environment and the community as at large. In ensuring that the supply chain is sustainable, Walmart has come up with a robust assessment of all the suppliers. This assessment documents the sustainability of the production of the products. Walmart then heads over to assess whether the products’ process of making is friendly to the environment. Besides that, Walmart also takes into consideration the effects of such products to the community. In order to ensure that the products did not harm the community during its production, Walmart ensures that the products are made with consideration of the working conditions of the laborers making the products (Corporate Communications, 2007 pp 49). Besides that, Walmart also has to assess the use of the products and ensure that they do not pose any health concern to the user and the environment.
Apart from ensuring that the products foster the health of the individual and the environment, Walmart has to also ensure that its fleet management does not have high carbon footprints. The company has come with technology in production in order to reduce its emission to the atmosphere during the transport of fleet to stores or even during delivery to the customers. Besides that, Walmart has also ensured that its consumer electronic products save the energy. This also goes hand in hand with funding that Walmart invests in cleaner energies. Even though corporate social responsibility has been partly influenced by globalization, the culture within which Walmart is set, which is the American culture greatly influences its CSR efforts. So, there is need to first understand the American culture and then head over to analyze Walmart’s efforts towards it.
Organizational and Employee Development
Organizational developments are efforts that are directed towards ensuring that the organization achieves its long-term goals for growth and development. This might sometime mean presentation of a positive corporate image beside ensuring that the organization achieves its goals for growth in sales. Walmart’s development and growth lies in the appraisal of resources as well as legitimate strategies for its associates and suppliers (Koca-Helvaci, 2015). In order to better understand the meaning of corporate development, it is important to understand the Appraisal and legitimation theories in their contexts. These theories posit that any corporate institution must establish a good and positive relationship with its suppliers, customers, and even other stakeholders in order to develop. These theories also insist on a good corporate image with all the business associates. Even though Walmart might differ greatly with the two positions, it sets a positive image among the associates who are the suppliers, employees and the customers.
Walmart behavior towards the associates is mutually beneficial. The store is able to benefit from the relationship with all its associates by ensuring that it comes up with the right kind of philanthropic agenda towards the employees, suppliers and the customers. This is particularly evident through its philanthropic efforts that are geared towards ensuring the improvement of the working conditions, benefits, and wages of its employees. Besides that, Walmart also sets conditions by ensuring that its suppliers improve the working conditions of its employees through strict rules and assessment of the supply chain. With the need to ensure the improvement of the conditions of the worker, society and the natural environment in general, Walmart can ensure its development. All these are wrapped up together with ensuring that it has robust programs to ensure that workers have developed both personally and career-wise. This is evident in the institution of benefits such as medical covers as well as other means such as vocational training. With such efforts, people working at Walmart, as well as those working for its associates, can enjoy better working conditions and a good environment fostering personal development.
Talent management are efforts by Walmart to nurture talent and motivate employees to perform better. Talent management might also involve the appraisal of employees that are performing well. In a bid to nurture talent, Walmart has established vocational training center within the organization. The vocational training is focused on coming up with programs where employees are trained for specific periods. In these programs, employees such as chefs and clerks go for professional training in Walmart academies. They are not only trained to do their jobs well at Walmart, they are also imparted with skills relevant to their areas of specialization. After clearing the required time in the academy, employees get certificates which they can use later during their careers even after they have stopped working for Walmart (Schwartzberg, 2017, April 5). Such a program is essentially meant to train the employee while also giving them a chance of developing their careers.
Besides that, Walmart has also come up with a robust compensation program. This is evident by the pay rise from just $8.3 in 2001 to $11 in 2014. These wages are only offered up to individuals that are new at Walmart. However, for employees that have worked for the company for more than 5 years, their hourly wage goes up to $20. Besides, there are other programs which are inherently meant to nurture certain talents. Highly performing employees are trained and then transferred to other places where they get experience on how they can lead others. This inherently is meant to develop leadership in the company.
The need to ensure that customers are satisfied has driven Walmart to the forefront of innovation. This is more evident through the use of technology in order to increase efficiency. The scan and go technology that has been introduced has reduced the work of the employees and has also left the company without the need to hire. The Scan & Go technology bails the customers from those long queues at Walmart and at the same time allowing them to plan their shopping experiences (Driscoll, 2018, January 11). First, Walmart tested the technology in a few markets in Arkansas and Dallas-Fort Worth. Typically, all the customer needs to do with the app is launch it from the app store and then it would automatically direct them to nearby stores that accept payment with it.
Right after completing their shopping and have paid for the goods on the shelves using their smartphones, they need to walk through the mobile expressways on their way out. This typically makes it easy for the customers to shop. Even though Walmart is not the only company that has launched this app, it might be a game changer due to the ripple effects it comes with. Even though it might cut costs for the Walmart, the Scan & Go technology might also mean that the company is going to lay off the employees. Since customers can serve themselves, employees who are cashiers might become obsolete. With such a technology, there is need to train employees to serve other functions rather than the orthodox ones at the stores.
Coming with good human resource management practices requires that the organization has sound management practices and CSR policies that are robust. There is need to ensure that employees working for the company are motivated enough while also ensuring that they are properly trained to perform their jobs. This means that apart from motivating employees by increasing benefits and compensation, the company can also grow when employees are taught how to better perform their jobs. Walmart needs to focus on improving the employee remuneration and compensation in order to ensure its growth. However, one big impediment to commitment to the improvement of the employee welfare by the company is the introduction of the Scan & Go technology. This technology might be best preferred by the company due to the fact that it cuts costs of having to employ the cashiers. From the assessment above, it is fairly arguable to state that there is still much to be done by Walmart as far as human resource management, in general, is concerned.
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