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The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart is “testing a new store employee structure, in some cases using fewer midlevel, in-store managers to oversee workers while boosting pay and responsibilities for those roles. The shift comes as the country’s largest employer works to control labor costs, keep workers longer and attract talent, while spending more to raise wages.”

According to the story, “Walmart executives say the genesis of the new worker structure wasn’t cost savings, but rather adapting its workforce to shifting shopping habits online and employee demands.

“The changes include giving more decision-making power to people on the floor, while giving good managers elevated roles. For example, test stores let workers help customers with requests such as returning items or changing a price without multiple authorizations - and groups them into teams that communicate and complete tasks across shifts, said Drew Holler, senior vice president associate experience for Walmart U.S.

CNBC writes that “the new structure is already in place at 75 of its stores, and will be expanding to departments across 50 other supercenter locations over the next month.” However, Walmart says the program isn’t monolithic, and is likely to take different forms in different locales going forward, especially in the test phase.
KC's View:
While I’m not entirely sure that I buy that there are no financial incentives for Walmart to do this, I completely agree with the idea that companies are better off when they drive decisions down and place trust in and responsibility on the people on the front lines. This also strikes me as yet another example of how Walmart is trying to be more nimble than it traditionally has been.