Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wal-Mart Experiences

Shopping at Wal-Mart is almost a necessity to most people living in the United States. The company is one of the richest in the country, and sells items in just about every genre you can think of. Convenience is a big factor, as 96% of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of any Wal-Mart (The Designer Observer Group, All Those Numbers: Logistics, Territory and Walmart). Talk about a good store placement strategy. Wal-Mart advertises its prices as being the lowest, and most of us can all testify that this statement is in fact correct.

However, what about their employees? Do you ever walk into a Wal-Mart and find that the associates (employees) there look happy? Looks can be deceiving, but there always seems to be a consistent sense of dread amongst the majority of employees working at any Wal-Mart. The happiest employees at Wal-Mart are likely the members of the management. Well go figure, they are definitely making more money than the majority of the employees in the store.

I just recently worked at a local Wal-Mart. I more recently quit the job after just 3 weeks of work. I was initially excited to be working at Wal-Mart because I was desperate for any job period. I was a 'Courtesy Associate,' which sounds particularly glamorous at first glance. However, I was stuck pushing carts from the parking lot back into the cart bays. My shifts were an average of 7 hours, with a one hour lunch. So I would spend anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of my day at Wal-Mart, out in the extreme Central Florida elements.

This was not fun, and my co-workers were not much help either. It was a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and needless to say, the store was big. So obviously, the parking lot was big. It was one of those Wal-Marts with two big entrances and two big cart bays, and sometimes I would be stuck trying to keep both bays full. This was an impossible task, involved a lot of pain, and was just dumb. I would call for help, question where my co-workers were and why they were not scheduled to come in at the busiest times of the day and would still receive no support. It seemed like I was the only one in the entire store that truly cared about the quality of my work. So, naturally, since no one else cared, I was screwed. 3 weeks after being hired, I quit. I turned in my name tag, and had a manager officially terminate me. A couple of days later, a Customer Service Manager called me multiple times (at least 4 times within a day and a half) asking for an explanation for leaving. At least to me, this is very unprofessional. However, thinking back on it, the CSM was the one who directly interviewed and hired me. She probably took a lot of heat for my swift departure.

I read something this morning that made me feel a little better. It seems as I was not the only screwed over by Wal-Mart. In an article by Allen Clifton of, Clifton cites a colleague of his on the benefits system of Wal-Mart. I was not made aware of this, but Wal-Mart has a minimal hour count as a standard for providing minimum benefits to associates. Clifton explains:

See, what Walmart has done is set the bar for which part-time associates (employees are called associates at Walmart) can receive benefits at an average of 24 hours per week.  At this threshold an employee is given the most minimal options for health coverage, about 8-12 hours of personal days and maybe 12 or so hours of vacation per year.  It really all depends on how long you’ve worked for the company.

I was working around 36 hours a week. Of course, when I dug up some details on employee benefits, I found that my qualification for benefits would not even kick in until I have worked 90 days for the company. And when they did kick in, one of the benefits that struck me (and for all of the wrong reasons) was a mere 10% discount on Wal-Mart products. The place I work at now gives me 45% off of everything, and that was effective immediately. That's just one knock on Wal-Mart, and I am pretty sure there are others that I am not aware of.

Clifton gives a link to his other article. In that article, he promptly bashes a segment of Wal-Mart's employee orientation.

When you first get hired you’re given an orientation, like at most jobs.  In this orientation you’re shown several videos, one of which is called “The Benefits of Working for Walmart.”  But it’s really a 30 minute video bashing unions.  No, I’m not kidding.  It’s literally a video about 30 minutes long of people telling you how terrible unions are to work for

So right from the start, they attempt to instill a certain belief into each and every new employee that steps into their system (disclaimer here; this is not a statement to be judged as either for or against unions). That does not seem very professional to me, but at this point, it seems as if that is the theme. There is so much more dirt I could dig up on Wal-Mart with some more research, but this topic is truly exhausting. Allen Clifton goes into detail in both of his articles, and I strongly suggest reading both of them.


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