Walmart Seeks to Retain Employees by Hiring Them Full-Time

Walmart Inc. said it will shift more of its U.S. workforce to full-time status, the latest move by the nation’s biggest private employer to hold onto staff.

The world’s largest retailer said it expects two-thirds of its U.S. hourly roles will be full-time by the end of the fiscal year that concludes in January of 2022, which translates to about 100,000 more full-time positions than it had five years ago. The company said in a blog post Wednesday those roles will have consistent schedules from week to week, answering a common complaint of its workers.

The move could help Walmart hold onto staffers amid accelerating vaccinations and easing restrictions. Walmart went on a hiring binge last year, bringing on board half a million people to cope with surging demand in its stores and online. But its reluctance to boost its starting wage above the current $11 an hour -- even as rivals like Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. move to $15 and above -- has rankled employees and labor advocates alike.

“Having full-time associates has never been more important than it is right now,” Drew Holler, senior vice president of U.S. people operations, said in the blog post. “That’s why we’re offering full-time associates set, consistent schedules, with the same hours on the same days each week.”

Walmart considers any employee working 34 hours or more full-time, although anyone working 30 hours a week or more is eligible for health coverage. More than 80% of its warehouses workers are already full time, it said

A recently-released Labor Department report on job openings and turnover showed available positions in the U.S. reached a two-year high of 7.37 million in February. Yet businesses have said they’re struggling to find workers for these positions because of pandemic-related issues such as child care and health concerns.

Walmart’s move is also part of a broader overhaul of its 1.5 million-strong U.S. workforce, which has led to the elimination of some roles and the creation of a new team-based structure in stores, where groups of eight to 12 associates work together on tasks. The new model, optimistically dubbed “Great Workplace,” also includes more training and support for lower-level workers, who in turn will shoulder more responsibility.

While Walmart hasn’t budged on its starting wage since 2018, it has doled out new benefits for workers. In recent years it has instituted a more generous parental-leave policy, offered college tuition for $1 a day and relaxed its dress code to let workers wear jeans.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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