Will associates rocking new vests help improve Walmart’s image and results?
Walmart is looking to upgrade its look. The retailer, which last year relaxed its dress code to let associates wear more comfortable clothing like jeans and sneakers, is replacing the blue vests worn by employees since 2014 with new ones that have a more modern feel, including trim detail and screen printing designed to be easily identified by shoppers, even in the busiest of the chain’s stores.
Most of the vests worn by associates will be neutral steel gray with a variety of different brightly colored trim accents. Self-checkout “hosts” in the chain’s supercenters will wear yellow vests with gray trim. The back of each vest and pockets will include Walmart’s “spark” graphic in the same color as the trim. The pockets themselves will be larger than in the current vests, enabling associates to carry the tools and tech required for their jobs.
All store associates will receive a new vest this year. Additional vests, which are made from recycled bottles, will also be available for associates to purchase at no more than $11. The retailer plans to introduce a greater variety of trim designs going forward with the goal of enabling associates to express their individual styles.
Relaxed dress codes and new vest designs along with a variety of initiatives including upgraded training, debt-free college degree programs and slowly increasing pay rates all appear designed to both upgrade the professionalism of its frontline workforce while improving employee relations.
Earlier this week at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting, the retailer was criticized in person by Sen. Bernie Sanders who put forward a resolution to raise the company’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The resolution, which ultimately failed to pass, was part of a campaign by the Democratic Party presidential hopeful and others to get employers to raise wages for employees. Walmart’s current minimum is $11 per hour. The chain said its average hourly compensation, which includes benefits, is $17.50 per hour, according to a CNBC report.
The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour. Speaking at the shareholder’s meeting, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said it was “time for Congress to put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage.” He advocated for changes that would phase in increases and take cost-of-living factors into consideration.
- The Walmart Vest Gets an Upgrade with New Options for Associates – Walmart
- Walmart is getting rid of its blue vests. Here’s what the new ones look like – CNN
- Bernie Sanders: Walmart resistance to raising minimum wage is ‘grotesque,’ slams Walton family – USA Today
- Should retail boards include seats for store associates? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the most significant challenges facing Walmart from a workforce perspective? Do you believe Walmart is addressing those challenges in a meaningful way, and how does that affect its competitiveness?