Good times are here again. Half a million Walmart employees will be getting raises which will be above the federal minimum wages by spring. An announcement to this effect was made by the company on Thursday.
The mega chain in its fourth quarter earnings report said that 500,000 full-time and part-time store associates will be getting a hike in salary to at least $9 an hour starting in April. Interestingly it will be $1.75 more than the federal minimum wage. By next February each Walmart hourly employees will be making $10 an hour after the mandatory six months of training.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon ascribed the wage hike to a strategy to attract and retain employees and also to improve customer service.
Doug said, “We want associates that care about the company and are highly engaged in our business and are leaning in. Those feelings generate a customer experience that drives growth.”
Walmart has been over the years indicted by employees and advocacy groups for not giving a decent remuneration and often employees have to seek welfare assistance. The stores were often flanked by protestors during the holiday season particularly around Thanksgiving and Black Friday, to push for higher wages.
At present full time employees earn an average of $12.85 an hour while part time employees make an average of $9.48. These averages will increase to $13 and $10 respectively under the new plan.
Walmart also said that it will spend $100 million over the five year for career training of entry level employees. It will also include an in house training program sponsored by Walmart to teach the new incumbent skills such as communication, merchandising, customer service and the basic financials of retail.
Walmart also promised workers with better control over their schedules. Announcing the changes CEO Doug McMillion acknowledged that the company lost some customer loyalty because of its pay practices.
He said, “We have work to do to grow the business. We know what customers want from a shopping experience, and we’re investing strategically to exceed their expectations and better position Walmart for the future. We’re strengthening investments in our people to engage and inspire them to deliver superior customer experiences.”