Business

Providing Quality Health Benefits for Our Associates

In the U.S., the 1.3 million people who work at our stores, clubs and distribution centers are vital to a great experience for the 140 million customers shopping with us each week. We’re in business because our associates bring us their unique skills and talents – and so we do our absolute best to offer all the benefits that come with a great job, particularly affordable health insurance.

Anyone who has been following the news for the last several years knows that health care is a major topic of debate. From doctors’ visits and prescriptions to insurance premiums, health care costs have increased for all of us – individuals and the companies that insure them – each year. Knowing this, Walmart continues to work with health care providers and professionals, using our size and influence to negotiate the best rates and options for our associates.

Like every company, Walmart continues to face rising health care costs. This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment. As a result, today we announced that our associates will see an increase in premiums for 2015. For example, our most popular and lowest cost associate-only plan will increase by $3.50 to $21.90 per pay period – still half the average premium other retail employees pay.


We’re also changing eligibility for some part-time associates. We will continue to provide affordable health care to all eligible associates, including part-time, who work more than 30 hours. However, similar to other retailers like Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joe’s, we will no longer be providing health benefits to part-time associates who work less than 30 hours. This will impact about 2% of our total U.S. workforce.  We will be working with a specialist, HealthCompare, to personally guide our associates through the process of finding the right, affordable health care.

We are proud of the health care plans we offer, which are among the best in the retail industry, as well as the new benefits we’ve introduced over the past two years for our associates. This includes a vision plan that launched this year and our innovative Centers of Excellence program that began in 2013 that covers select spine and heart procedures at no cost to our associates. We expanded Centers of Excellence this year to include knee and hip replacement surgeries and, for 2015, we’re excited to be adding breast, lung and colorectal cancer care at the Mayo Clinic.

We don’t make these decisions lightly, and the fact remains that our plans exceed those of our peers in the retail industry. Our premiums remain well below the industry average compiled by expert Aon Hewitt.  We also continue to pay the majority of health care costs for associates covered under our medical plans. For example, on average we cover more than 60% of our associates’ total health care costs and more than 75% of their premium costs. In contrast, the retail industry pays, on average, about 54% of total health care costs and 68% of employee premiums.

All of our eligible associates – both full and part-time – will continue to benefit from our health care options that include no lifetime maximum, preventative care covered at 100%, and $250 up to $1,000 to help pay for medical expenses. We believe these options are among the best in the retail industry.

As our associates continue to work hard for our customers, we will continue working hard to keep their benefits as affordable as possible, enhance the quality of health care they receive and make the cost more transparent, which will benefit everyone.

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Life

Your Gifting Questions, Answered: Win the Holidays with This Handy Guide

Some people are easy to buy gifts for: yourself, for example, or your BFF. Others are a bit more … challenging. Fear not, Dear Reader, our fictional in-house advice columnist, Liza, is here to show you how to use the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide to satisfy the most perplexing recipients on your list, actual or hypothetical.

Q: Dear Liza, I never know what to get my father-in-law for Hannukah. He is the type of person who, if he wants something, just goes and buys it himself. Guys are so hard to buy for! Help! Sincerely, Joy

A: I hear you, Joy. I once bought my Dad a gift card, which I thought was a pretty safe bet, and he said he never shopped at that store and gave it back to me! The nerve! Fortunately, with Walmart’s gift guide, you can easily search “Gifts for Him” and narrow it down using what your father-in-law enjoys. For example, if he is into tech, pick up Google Home. If he always mans the grill at family get-togethers, the Gift Guide has a ton of options, too.

Q: Dear Liza, I’m spending the holidays with my cousin, and he and his wife have a baby. Social contract dictates that I should bring it some sort of gift. What do I get a baby? Diapers or something? Sincerely, Nick

A: While babies do often wear diapers, there is – quite reasonably – not a lot of data on whether or not they like them. We do know that babies enjoy toys they can touch and that have bright colors. Here’s what to do: Go to the Walmart Gift Guide. Click on “Gifts for Babies and Toddlers.” Peruse the options for toys, activities, and pajamas. For example, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is great for children 6 to 12 months. You can have it shipped to you, or pick up in store. The little one will love it, and the parents will be so impressed, they’ll want you to babysit!
P.S. Parents don’t typically like it when you refer to their offspring as “it.”


Q: Dear Liza, We’re hosting Christmas this year, and that means I am in charge of stockings. This adds a new layer to my normal giving plan, especially because everyone in my family – all ages, from grandparents to kids – has a stocking to fill! Can you help? Sincerely, Noelle

A: I got you, girl. In addition to searching our Gift Guide by recipient (Gifts for Her, Gifts for Grandparents), you can also search by theme. One of these themes includes – you guessed it – stocking stuffers! Whether you pick up some makeup brushes for your niece or chocolate covered cherries for your grandpa, you can get everything you need to impress your family on Christmas morning. (Pro tip: If you’re working within a budget, the Gift Guide allows you to search by price as well.)

TL; DR: Whether you shop by recipient (e.g. your grandparents), hobby (the adventurer, the tech lover), or species (we have gifts for pets, too), the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide has your nice list covered this holiday season.

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Business

Interactive: Dig in to These Holiday Food Facts

There are 163 meals in the months of November and December. And Walmart is here to help with all those meals with great fresh items as well as Patti LaBelle’s famous pies.

But let’s talk about those big food occasions like Thanksgiving dinner. From the traditional turkey and ham to award-winning wines and organic and all-natural choices, you can set your entire holiday table with us.

This image highlights a few ways Walmart can help make your end-of-year gatherings excellent. Simply hover over the circles on the table and check out what we have to offer.

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: Talking Turkey

ICYMI: An Oscar winner gives back, a Thanksgiving delivery in New York, recognition for reducing food waste, and the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Act of Kindness on Lane 7

Customer Sydney Gholston went into one of our Kentucky stores to purchase some Thanksgiving turkeys for the nonprofit she works for, but left with an unbelievable story to boot. While she was in line to pay, she struck up a conversation with a friendly gentleman who offered to pay for her order. The man? Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, who was in town filming a movie. It goes to show, you never know who you may run into in our stores!

Giving Back in New York

This week, we worked with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several other companies to feed Thanksgiving dinner to more than 35,000 New Yorkers across the state. Each meal included turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, vegetables, cranberry sauce and potatoes. We were honored to be a part of this effort along with Wegmans, FreshDirect and The Coca-Cola Company.

Feeling Fancy?

One of the many reasons Walmart.com is great is the expanded assortment – the site offers additional items that aren’t available in store. But would you expect to find a Cartier watch or Prada pumps? You can now! These are just a small sampling of the luxury items you can find through our third-party Marketplace sellers. Earlier this year, our Marketplace had Air Yeezy’s for sale. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my Christmas wish list.

A Food Waste Champion

Food waste is a big issue in the U.S., with an estimated $29 billion thrown away each year. This week, we were excited to see that Walmart was named to the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions – an honor established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize businesses and organizations that have committed to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50% by 2030. We’ve been doing a number of things to help reduce food waste, including finding a use for fruits and vegetables that might be oddly shaped or have minor blemishes; switching date labels on our Great Value nonperishable products to a “Best if used by” format; and donating extra food to local food banks. Our goal is to reach 0% net waste and donate 4 billion meals by 2020.

Delivering Deals and Turkeys

By now, we’re tucking into leftovers and looking over the great deals we scored from Black Friday shopping. I’m most excited about the 55” plush bear I picked up. Our associates were in stores this week working hard to make sure families across the country had the items they needed to put on a great Thanksgiving feast, and they were ready for you when you came out to shop. This week, we sold 150 million pounds of turkey and ham, and televisions were once again one of the most popular items shopped. The only thing left to do is grab a nap before Cyber Monday kicks off!

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Life

At a Glance: Your Walmart Holiday Shopping Schedule

It’s time to put your holiday shopping game face on. And Walmart is ready to meet you – whether at our physical stores or from the comfort of your sofa via laptop or the Walmart mobile app. We’re offering more amazing deals, on a larger assortment of products, earlier than ever before.

Here’s a quick guide to what we have planned to help you win the holiday season:

Black Friday Jump-Start
Our in-store Black Friday events start at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, but there’s no need to wait until you’ve gobbled down your Thanksgiving feast to start checking gifts off your holiday lists. The majority of Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be on Walmart.com beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving morning.

We’ve stocked our digital and physical aisles with more than 1.5 million televisions, nearly two million tablets and computers, and three million video games, including 11 televisions for $298-$398. Other deals include drones, mobile phones, fitness wearables, pajamas, toys, connected home devices, home and outdoor favorites, and more.

Up Next: Cyber Week
Having nearly tripled our online product assortment this year from 8 million to more than 23 million items, we’re excited to offer our largest Cyber Week assortment to date. Our annual Cyber Week online specials begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 25.

Customers will find more top brands like Samsung, Google and Nerf from Walmart, and surprising finds like Michael Kors, UGG and Ray Ban from our marketplace sellers. Walmart.com’s smart recommendation engine helps surface the most relevant gift ideas for friends and family on customers’ holiday lists.

Free Shipping and Store Pickup
Walmart will offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more, as well as free pickup at Walmart stores. Last year, approximately 90% of orders placed between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shipped for free, and we expect that to climb even higher as we create more ways than ever for customers to save money in our digital and physical aisles.

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