Will Walmart’s ‘Great Workplace’ test work for its customers and associates?
Walmart is experimenting with several versions of a new store management structure under its “Great Workplace” initiative. The goal of the program, which includes a reduction in the number of managers within the chain’s stores, is about making Walmart management more responsive to the needs of its customers and staff, as well.
The test, which is currently being conducted in about 100 Neighborhood Markets and smaller supercenter locations, involves reducing the number of assistant and department manager roles in stores and making a smaller number responsible for larger teams of employees.
CNBC reports that the management structure at test locations includes store managers at the top followed by “business leads” and “team leads.” Business leads make 10 percent more than what current assistant store managers earn. The starting pay for team leads is $18 an hour.
In the Great Workplace environment, associates are given more responsibility, as managers lead teams across multiple departments rather than focusing on just one.
Drew Holler, senior vice president associate experience for Walmart U.S., told The Wall Street Journal, that under the new structure associates can help customers with requests such as product returns or price corrections without going through layers of approvals.
“That is probably the game changer in this, we are pushing decisions down,” he told the Journal.
The same article reports that Great Workplace stores have seen reductions in manager counts while frontline staff has remained as-is or increased. There is no indication at this time that Walmart intends to broadly roll out the new management hierarchy across its stores.
Walmart has been investing heavily in store remodels and reconfiguring locations to accommodate grocery pickup outside stores and Pickup Towers inside. The retailer has emphasized using automation to reduce repetitive tasks while freeing up associates for customer-facing roles.
- Walmart is testing ways to trim the size of its store management staff – CNBC
- Walmart to Try Thinning Store Manager Ranks – The Wall Street Journal
- Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab store runs on AI – RetailWire
- Will Walmart clean up with its robotic workforce? – RetailWire
- Are people investments paying off for retailers? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Walmart’s “Great Workplace” staffing structure will produce stores that are more responsive to the needs of customers? Will this same system prove more rewarding for store associates?