Walmart associates gain greater control over schedules
Seeking another lever to motivate employees, Walmart is allowing associates greater control over their weekly work schedules.
Store managers currently allocate hours within the times employees say they are available to work. By the end of the year, associates will be able to claim fixed shifts, which guarantee the same hours each week, or opt for flex shifts, building their own schedules from the hours available in two-and-a-half-week increments.
Fixed shifts will first be offered to the longest-tenured associates, then on a first-come-first-served basis as new shifts become available. An app is being developed to help associates manage schedules.
The changes address the challenges of unpredictable scheduling, particularly for those working other jobs or arranging childcare, faced by many retail workers. Starbucks, Abercrombie and others have been called out for using “on-call shifts,” typically managed by software that notifies employees, often within a short time frame, whether or not they will be working on a given day.
Although Walmart hasn’t been called out for using on-call shifts, activist groups have long demanded that the discounter provide more advance notice of schedules, greater consistency, greater access to full-time work, and scheduling based on seniority.
Walmart mentioned the scheduling adjustments last year as part of its $2.7 billion investment in wages and training. Tests of the system at two stores in Arkansas and Kansas showed an 11 percent decline in absenteeism and a 14 percent drop in staff turnover.
Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told The Washington Post that the greater visibility and information into scheduling offers greater flexibility for employees.
“And more features might be coming in the future, like the ability to split shifts in smaller increments,” he added. “I think everything is on the table in figuring out how to get people in the store working when people are shopping.”
- Walmart is rolling out big changes to worker schedules this year – The Washington Post (tiered sub.)
- Retailers asked to explain ‘on-call shifts’ – RetailWire
- Wal-Mart aims to improve scheduling for U.S. workers – Reuters
- Walmart Makes Small But Important Change To How It Schedules Workers – ThinkProgress
- 1 million Walmart workers get a raise on Saturday – CNN
- “The Number-One Selling Item In Walmart Stores Is Broken Promises” – Making Changes at Wal-Mart
- Walmart reports Q4 adjusted EPS of $1.49, Fiscal year 2016 adjusted EPS of $4.59 – Wal-Mart
- Wal-Mart Q415 Conference Call – Seeking Alpha
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is providing more control over scheduling to Walmart associate morale versus higher wages and other perks? Should other retailers in the space also commit to offering fixed and flex shifts?