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Walmart said yesterday that by the end of the current fiscal year, it expects that two-thirds of its hourly store positions will be working full-time, with consistent schedules.

 Drew Holler, Senior Vice President, Walmart U.S. People Operations, laid out the reasons for the shift:

"We’re uniquely positioned to offer a combination of stability and room for growth that few others can match. We are prioritizing consistent schedules, skills training and new pathways for growth, so all jobs at Walmart can lead to careers. We know offering more full-time opportunities along with skills, training and equipping associates with tools to make work easier will help us continue to attract and retain top talent.

"Having a stable, reliable job is important. At Walmart, that starts with having a consistent, predictable schedule that makes it easy for associates to plan for all of the important things going on outside of work. That’s why we’re offering full-time associates set, consistent schedules, with the same hours on the same days each week. For example, an associate who works in the deli could go into work each day knowing they’ll be off in time to pick up their kids from school.

"This approach has other benefits, too. Associates will be scheduled to work alongside their teammates and their leader on every shift. This is one way we’re building on the team-based structure we introduced in stores last year. Having these small teams of eight to 12 associates work together will lead to a more connected, productive and enjoyable work environment. Associates are cross-trained within their team’s area of the store, and they get real-time, one-on-one feedback and mentorship from their leader. All of this helps them build careers with Walmart if they choose. And all of this ultimately results in even better customer service."

KC's View:

"Even better customer service." 

That's the key … and it is why, I suspect, Walmart believes that this investment in a higher-percentage full-time workforce will pay off in the future.

Walmart is doing this even as it is raising the floor on wages - while there will be plenty of arguments that not enough, the fact remains that Walmart is investing in employees to a greater degree than ever, which should have the effect of helping those employees feel invested in the company.

I find myself wondering if we're going to see companies like Walmart and Amazon engaging in their battle for supremacy on a new front - labor.  Amazon certainly gets its share of criticisms of how it treats its workers, and it seems to be in the crosshairs of political and regulatory attention to a greater degree than Walmart at the moment.  (Though this could change with one bad piece of publicity.)

Walmart may see this as an opportunity to change perceptions, which could have the effect of changing shopper behavior and preferences.