Human capital: good jobs & advancement for associates
SASB: CG-MR-310a.1; CG-EC-330a.1; CG-EC-330a.2; FB-FR-310a.2;
GRI: 102-7; 102-17, 102-35; 102-36; 103-1; 103-2; 103-3; 203-2 a, 401-1a; 401-2; 401-3 a-b; 404-2a;
UN SDGs: 5, 8
S | Last Updated: July 7, 2021
Walmart is committed to making retail a place of inclusive and equitable opportunity where people, regardless of where they start, can gain the skills and experiences they need to advance in their careers. Doing so allows us to attract, develop and retain the talent we need to deliver our distinctive omni-channel customer proposition.
|Number of U.S. associates promoted to jobs of greater responsibility and higher pay99||> 215,000||> 200,000||> 300,000|
|Number of associates enrolled in Live Better U (LBU)||> 4,000||> 12,000||> 27,000|
|Percentage of U.S. hourly-to-hourly promotions to women / people of color100||57% / 45%||58% / 44%||58% / 46%|
|Percentage of U.S. management promotions to women / people of color101||43% / 38%||41% / 40%||46% / 39%|
|Percentage of U.S. officers who are women / people of color102||32% / 21%||31% / 24%||33% / 25%|
|Percentage of active LBU students who are women / people of color||56% / 39%|
|Percent of U.S. hourly associates (excluding Home Office associates) in full-time jobs103||> 50%104||> 60%||~64%|
|Starting cost of medical plan per bi-weekly pay period (for full- and part-time associates who have worked an average of 30 hours per week over the past 12 months)||~$26.00||~$29.00||$30.50|
|Average hourly wage / average total hourly compensation106 (U.S. hourly associates, excluding Home Office associates)105||$13.63107 / $17.84108||>$14.00 / >$18.00|
> $14.50* / > $19.50
For more recent wage information click here.
|* As of March 2021, after wage increases were implemented, the average hourly wage in the U.S. was over $15.25 per hour.|
|Number of technology-empowered109 roles in Walmart U.S. stores, including personal shoppers for pickup and delivery||> 26,000||> 75,000||> 160,000|
Relevance to our business & society
Walmart’s mission to help people save money and live better is delivered by our associates who make a difference for our customers every day. As of the end of FY2021, we employed more than 2.3 million associates worldwide, with 1.6 million associates in the U.S. While a number of factors determine Walmart’s business performance, we believe our investments to improve career paths for our associates, including robust training, education offerings, competitive wages, new ways of working and opportunities for advancement, have strengthened our workforce and contributed positively to comparable store sales and associate retention. As customer demands and technology change the nature of work, we are continuing to attract, develop and retain people of all backgrounds who can thrive in an ever-changing omni-channel environment.
We believe investing in frontline retail workers also creates value beyond Walmart. Communities need good entry-level jobs at competitive wages to provide pathways for community members to acquire skills and advance to higher wage, mid-level careers, enabling workforce development and helping to sustain local economies.
Many entry-level people have the potential to advance but need the opportunity to gain specific skills for higher-wage jobs. Employer-based training and education offerings can help entry-level people earn a good paycheck while they acquire the in-demand skills—and, in some cases, formal education—needed to move up to roles with greater responsibility and higher pay.
At the same time, employers are seeking qualified talent to fill their mid-level jobs and can look to retail and other frontline workers without college degrees as potential talent pools. Not only does upskilling benefit people, but employers often find it to be a cost-effective way to meet their own needs while growing and retaining valuable talent.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated economic and technological transformations that were already underway, while exacerbating skill, education and economic inequities that have long existed. This has heightened the urgency to provide ways for people to learn new skills affordably, effectively and rapidly.
With our position as one of the world’s largest private employers and a major contributor to the global economy, we seek to accelerate the professional development and advancement of our associates and the general workforce through good jobs, competitive compensation and benefits, training and education programs, growth-oriented career paths and Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s philanthropic programs, as further described below.
- Inclusion: We aim to build diverse and inclusive teams throughout our business. Our efforts include offering jobs with low barriers to entry, providing support and opportunities to develop and advance, identifying opportunities to further enhance diversity across all levels in the organization, as well as providing multiple avenues to engage with and provide feedback to management and company leadership.
- Well-being: We are focused on the financial, physical and emotional well-being of our associates. We provide competitive total compensation and benefits packages, including paid time off (which includes sick leave) and medical coverage to eligible associates, and we seek to improve job experiences through approaches such as scheduling that is predictable, yet flexible.
- Growth: Walmart continues to design and invest in programs that help our associates develop the skills and knowledge they need to advance within our company. We provide on-the-job and specialized training, redesigned roles with a focus on cross-training and mobility, and for eligible U.S. associates, the chance to complete higher education debt-free through Live Better U (LBU).
- Digital: To meet evolving customer expectations, we empower our associates through digital tools and prepare them for the digital present and future, including newer roles supporting our omni-channel business.
- Strengthening workforce development beyond Walmart: We use philanthropy and our ability to convene to strengthen the U.S. frontline workforce development system in retail and related sectors, with an emphasis on engaging employers and funders in innovative approaches to training and advancement.
Key strategies & progress
Access to employment
Entry-level jobs provide economic opportunity and paths to upward mobility, but sometimes people face barriers to employment. While employers use education degrees as a proxy for proficiency, such requirements do not necessarily correlate to skill, nor do they measure work ethic or accurately predict growth potential. We use various strategies to increase access to make our overall workforce and talent pipeline more diverse:
|Since 2015, Walmart in the U.S. has:|
- Low barriers to employment: Walmart offers thousands of different kinds of jobs, creating a place for everyone. For some it’s a first job and for others a second chance.
- Countering degree inflation: There are many roles in the U.S. job market, especially in the service sector, where a college degree should not be required for career access and mobility. For example, we do not require Walmart store managers, who earned an average of approximately $210,000 in FY2021, to have a college degree. According to a Harvard Business School study, people of color are disproportionately impacted by degree inflation, and this inequity is likely to grow due to the impact of COVID-19.
- Valuing work experience: As an employer, Walmart values skills and knowledge gained through work experience. We believe an emphasis on relevant skills and knowledge over educational pedigree makes it easier for job-seekers to find employment and to advance.
- COVID-19 hiring: In 2020, our role as an access employer expanded to include hiring those displaced from jobs due to the impacts of COVID-19. In 2020, we hired more than 500,000 new associates globally.
- Formerly incarcerated applicants: We adopted “ban the box” more than 10 years ago. Today, we’re also working to help address root causes of racial disparity across societal systems, including criminal justice. We are looking at more ways to re-shape hiring practices to help non-violent, formerly incarcerated applicants and support them as they re-enter the workforce.
Due to the long-term economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect that access to jobs will continue to be an urgent societal issue in 2021 and we remain committed to helping people find meaningful work.
Awards & recognition
Read more about our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts: Equity and Inclusion at Walmart and Beyond.
Diverse talent pipelines
Our diverse associate base serves as a talent pipeline for future leaders in our company. Diverse talent and an inclusive culture equip us to keep pace with evolving business demands and to better serve our diverse customer base. We continue to improve our people practices with a focus on equitably hiring, developing and rewarding our associates; enhancing diversity across all levels; and holding our leaders accountable for progress. In FY2021, 46% of U.S. management promotions went to women and 39% went to people of color.111 To learn more about our diverse hiring and development practices and our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, see Equity and inclusion at Walmart and beyond.
Our latest pay equity analysis in the U.S. confirms that, taking into account relevant factors such as position, tenure and location, Walmart pays associates equitably regardless of race, ethnicity and gender. We conduct analyses of pay and compensation practices in consultation with expert third-party firms following industry-leading standards. We correct disparities through adjustments to pay or practices. To date, our analyses have focused primarily on the U.S.; we are in the process of expanding to cover our global scope and commit to annually updating this disclosure.
Fair pay is foundational to Walmart’s high-performance culture. Pay equity analyses are part of a larger set of practices to support and develop diverse talent and to treat all associates fairly, consistent with our core value of respect for the individual. Examples include:
- Hiring practices: Gender-neutral job descriptions; interview training workshops and standardized interview questions; not requesting a salary history to set pay for external candidates; diverse candidate slates for U.S. officers and the Board of Directors
- Pay controls: Market-based starting pay rates; limiting discretion on pay; reviewing pay and promotion decisions before finalization
- Transparency: Providing the pay range for a position upon an associate’s request; supporting associate inquiries regarding pay and providing confidential resources for raising concerns
Listening to our associates
Our associates’ feedback and creative ability to solve problems hold the key to our success now and in the future. Engaging and acting on the ideas and concerns of associates builds trust and improves how we care for associates, customers, members and communities. We want to make sure we are consistently hearing from associates, gathering and responding to their feedback in a variety of ways.
Our primary method of communication will always be human interaction—through meetings, collaboration, leadership discussions and listening sessions. Maintaining a culture of open communication means giving associates a chance to share what is on their minds, especially when they are unable to discuss with another leader or need confidentiality.
Our annual Associate Engagement Survey (AES) is an opportunity to hear from our global workforce. The survey measures associate sentiment on a variety of topics such as relationship with manager and team, career growth and opportunity, belonging, inclusion and company culture. The AES also provides associates with the opportunity to share what is on their minds via an open-text response box. After the survey is completed, results dashboards are distributed to managers, highlighting their key opportunity areas and suggesting actions to create a more engaged workforce. For the FY2021 survey cycle, more than 60% of our U.S.-based associates participated, and nearly one-third of U.S.-based participants shared open-text feedback. While we do not have comparative metrics for results because Walmart’s survey was designed specifically for Walmart, we monitor industry engagement survey benchmarks and believe our response rate and engagement are strong.
Our Open Door process allows associates—from entry level to the C-suite—to share ideas, ask questions and raise concerns in good faith with their supervisors and other leaders at any time without fear of reprisal. Our Open Door philosophy is an integral part of our culture, reflecting a tradition of open communication and listening to our associates. When an associate wants to ask a question or report a concern confidentially, they can do so over the phone or via an online portal.
Here are a few examples of our associates’ feedback leading to meaningful change last year:
- After the tragic murder of George Floyd, Walmart associates engaged in listening sessions to discuss ways to make Walmart more inclusive. Our associate-led shared value networks (SVNs) are facilitating these conversations, reshaping internal practices and influencing the education/workforce, financial, healthcare and criminal justice systems to advance racial equity as well. Our associates working in our education SVN led a $5 million investment in North Carolina A&T to launch the Equity in Education initiative aimed at increasing the number of African American college graduates securing careers in fields critical to the nation’s workforce.
- A store associate shared an idea with John Furner to close stores on Thanksgiving Day, which we implemented to allow associates to spend time with loved ones after working hard to serve customers throughout the pandemic.
- Associate feedback drove our efforts to replace our “Statement of Ethics” with a new Code of Conduct, which highlights how we bring our culture of integrity to life every day. Their input helped us revise the Code and provided actionable, practical information on each topic. During the process, we surveyed more than 6,000 associates, conducted listening sessions with hundreds of them and incorporated comments from stakeholders in each market.
Confidential reporting of concerns
Associates have access to a variety of resources to confidentially report concerns or grievances. Walmart strictly forbids retaliation against any associate who reports a concern in good faith. We train our associates to be able to recognize and speak up about retaliation and other issues. Walmart associates receive ethics training during onboarding and regularly thereafter. In FY2021, more than 940,000 associates received Ethics training.
Reports can be made anonymously and are treated as confidential. To ask a question or report an ethics concern, associates can contact Walmart Global Ethics at WalmartEthics.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-WM-ETHIC in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. Our Code of Conduct outlines resources available globally. Learn more on the Walmart Ethics and Compliance page.
Freedom of association
Since Sam Walton founded the company, one of our enduring core values is Respect for the Individual. Consistent with applicable law and practice, Walmart respects the rights of associates to form, to join or not to join an employee association or trade union of their choice without interference. Associates should exercise these rights in an informed manner and with the benefit of thoughtful consideration of available information. In the exercise of these rights, we believe in the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information, provided there is no interference.
Manager and associate trainings include information on labor rights, including associates’ and Walmart’s responsibilities regarding freedom of association. Walmart aims to comply with all applicable laws and practices, and we provide resources for Walmart associates who have questions regarding these laws. We encourage any associate with questions on labor rights to contact Walmart Ethics. As of the end of FY2021, certain populations of Walmart associates were represented by some form of third-party representation in 17 of the 26 countries in which Walmart operated.112
Competitive pay and benefits, along with predictable and flexible scheduling, make work more rewarding, while helping associates maintain stability in their jobs and encouraging them to stay with Walmart and grow their skills and knowledge.
Throughout 2020, a year marked by uncertainty, we prioritized our associates’ well-being, distributing over $2.8 billion in bonus payouts,115 creating an emergency leave policy, adjusting store hours and implementing numerous safety measures. To learn more about our response to COVID-19 see the COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
We aim to enhance financial well-being of our associates by providing competitive wages by role and by market as well as through standard-setting benefits, predictable and flexible scheduling practices, and by offering a high proportion of full-time roles.
Majority full-time workforce
Full-time roles can lead to greater take-home pay for associates while helping them gain the knowledge and experience needed for advancement. While the majority of our workforce is full-time, we’ll always be a place where people can also find part-time roles. This helps many individuals who want to supplement household income and build new skills while managing other interests and obligations.
- Approximately 64% of our U.S. hourly associates are full-time, excluding Home Office associates.113 These associates’ jobs range from entry-level to supervisory and specialized roles in pharmacy or grocery.
- Approximately 99% of our U.S. supply chain associates110 are full-time, including associates with roles in our distribution and fulfillment centers.
There are many different scheduling demands, both for operating the store and managing the personal needs of individual people. All associates, including parents, caregivers and students, have different pressures on their time. Walmart’s scheduling system is built around predictability, consistency and flexibility while ensuring associates are there when customers need them.
- Predictability: We provide Walmart associates with their schedules at least two weeks in advance. Many associates want even more predictability, so we provide a scheduling option where associates can work the same shifts for at least 13 weeks, enabling them to plan and prioritize important responsibilities outside of work.
- Consistency: In 2021, Team Scheduling rolls out in all U.S. stores. Team Scheduling aligns the schedules of full-time members of an individual team so they consistently work together. Shifts will begin and end at the same time and team members will have the same days on and off. This model provides for a consistent up-to-40-hour/week work schedule.
- Flexibility: The Me@Walmart app allows associates to easily view schedules, swap shifts with colleagues and pick up available unfilled shifts, giving associates greater flexibility and ownership of their schedules. We also provide cross-training to associates so they are eligible to work in different jobs across the store, opening up opportunities to grow new skills and get access to available hours.
Walmart provides regular Paid Time Off (PTO) and Protected PTO to part-time and full-time hourly U.S. associates in our stores, clubs and supply chain and empowers associates to choose how to use their paid leave.
- Paid Time Off (includes Sick Leave): Walmart’s PTO policy combines paid sick leave, vacation time, personal time and holiday time into one category, giving associates flexibility in how to use their paid time off. Walmart’s full- and part-time associates receive regular and Protected PTO. Associates earn regular PTO at different rates depending on their full- or part-time status or tenure and take regular PTO with supervisor approval. In addition, we also offer Protected PTO, which allows our hourly associates to earn up to 48 hours of paid time per year (more in some locations) that can be used anytime to cover scheduled shifts, without attendance consequences, when they are unexpectedly unable to make it to work. Associates begin earning Protected PTO on their day of hire and begin earning regular PTO on their 90th day of employment.
- COVID-19 Emergency Leave Policy: Beyond PTO, Walmart created a COVID-19 emergency leave policy in March 2020, which the New York Times editorial board said “set a standard” for the private sector. The policy provides three different levels of leave to cover different associate needs. Level 1 allows associates to take an extended leave of absence without medical documentation if they determine they are unable to work or are uncomfortable at work due to COVID-19 concerns. Level 2 relates to mandated quarantines. Leave is paid for up to two work weeks per continuous occurrence for quarantine mandated by a health care provider, government or Walmart. An associate can have more than one occurrence. Level 3 is available to associates who have a confirmed case of COVID-19. If an associate is unable to return to work after the two weeks of quarantine and tests positive for COVID-19, additional pay replacement may be provided for up to 26 weeks with medical documentation. Absences associated with an approved COVID-19 leave are not counted against associates. The Emergency Leave Policy has been expanded to support associates if they have side effects after receiving either dose of a COVID-19 vaccine: associates may be eligible for paid leave (per dose) if they are unable to work due to an adverse reaction to the vaccine. This COVID-19 emergency leave policy has been utilized by hundreds of thousands of associates. Read more about our response to COVID-19.
- Expanded parental leave and adoption benefit: Walmart provides U.S. salaried and full-time hourly associates with the same maternity and parental leave benefits. Birth parents can access up to ten weeks of paid maternity and six weeks of paid parental leave. Birth moms can receive 16 weeks of paid time away when maternity and parental leave are combined. Parental leave applies to associates who become parents through birth, adoption or foster care placement. Our parental leave policy provides six weeks of paid time off to bond with a new child. We also offer a $5,000 adoption benefit. In FY2021 alone, approximately 30,000 Walmart parents took advantage of these benefits.126
We’re focused on creating a ladder of opportunity so people can build a career at Walmart, regardless of where they start. Associates can join us and begin working and learning on a team, receive role-specific Academy training and take advantage of a Live Better U education offering, if eligible. Associates can use these experiences and acquired knowledge to continue moving up to roles with greater responsibility and higher pay. Walmart has a proven track record of making advancement a reality. Approximately 75% of our U.S. salaried store, club and supply chain management started their careers in hourly positions.
Our wage structure reflects varied market rates associated with each role, our geographic footprint (concentrated in the Heartland, but ranging from rural Nebraska to just outside San Francisco, CA with different costs of living and labor markets) and business format, such as our Neighborhood Markets (grocery), our eCommerce fulfillment centers and supply chain warehouses, our Sam’s Club format and our Supercenters. In every market where we operate and for every role, we must have a competitive starting wage to recruit talent and run our business.
For example, our distribution center and fulfillment center associates start at a minimum of $15 per hour. And as of May 2021, 95% of Sam’s Club hourly associates make at least $15 per hour. In our store formats (e.g., Supercenter, Neighborhood Market grocery format), minimum starting wages for entry level positions vary by region and role, ranging from $11 to over $17 per hour, with team leads ranging from $18 to over $28 per hour. We have raised our minimum starting wage by 50% since 2015.
A starting wage, however, is just that—a start. We’re elevating wages, with an emphasis on jobs that require higher skills, including new roles such as personal shopper and team lead. This approach creates new opportunities for upward advancement. For example, as of March 2021, we raised pay for 425,000 store associates in digital and stocking workgroups, with starting wages now ranging from $13 – $19 per hour, based on store location and market.
Average hourly wage and total compensation, end of FY2021
Average hourly wage
Average total hourly compensation
|Walmart U.S.123||$14.61||$19.52||Grocery chains, multi-category retailers, dollar stores|
|Sam’s Club U.S.124||$16.24||$21.01||Warehouse clubs|
|Supply chain110 only (Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S.)||$20.37||$28.67||eCommerce fulfillment|
- Average hourly wage: As of March 2021, after wage increases were implemented, the average hourly wage in the U.S. was over $15.25 per hour.114
- High pay bands: Walmart has pay bands as high as $30/hour, depending on role and location.
- Bonuses: Walmart paid four special cash bonuses from the start of the pandemic through December 31, 2020 to U.S.-based associates. These special bonuses were in addition to our normal, quarterly bonuses, which are based on store, club and facility performance. The 2020 quarterly and special cash bonuses totaled more than $2.8 billion.116
- Quarterly bonuses: For associates awarded for each of the quarterly bonuses in FY2021, the total quarterly bonuses amounted to an average of approximately $1,400 per associate.
- Special bonuses: The special cash bonuses totaled $1,200 for each full-time hourly associate and $600 for each part-time hourly associate. These bonuses provided compensation over and above the average total compensation shown in the wage table.
- 10% discount: Walmart associates receive a discount card125 that provides a 10% discount on fresh fruits, vegetables and regularly priced general merchandise, plus select merchandise on Walmart.com. Sam’s Club associates receive a Sam’s Plus membership, plus a 10% discount on fruits and vegetables.
- 401(k): We offer 401(k) contribution plans, which include providing full- and part-time hourly U.S. associates a match of up to 6% after one year for those credited with 1,000 hours of service during their first year. Associates are eligible to contribute to their 401(k) on their first day of work. Our 401(k) program had an average enrollment of nearly 700,000 in FY2021, and Walmart’s company match in the U.S. totaled $1.2 billion.
- Stock ownership programs: Associates can participate in an associate stock purchase plan with company match. Walmart matches 15% of the first $1,800 U.S. associates contribute to their stock purchase program each year, up to $270 per plan year (age restrictions apply). In 2021, 41% of our active full-time and salaried U.S. associates participated in at least one of Walmart’s stock ownership programs, including but not limited to equity awards and our Associate Stock Purchase Plan.299
- Financial planning tools: We provide associates access to tools such as the Even app, which helps them manage their money and plan for bills, savings and spending. When unexpected expenses occur, our associates can also access earned wages ahead of scheduled paychecks.
- Financial education: Walmart provides educational tools and resources to associates about important financial topics such as budgeting, credit scores and investing.
We are committed to providing associates and their family members who utilize our medical plans with access to high-quality care. Walmart is at the forefront of employee health care innovation with a focus on quality, efficiency and effectiveness. We seek to set a standard for other employers as we democratize innovative offerings such as telehealth, behavioral health and Centers of Excellence.
- COVID-19 leave and flexibility: see Financial well-being above to learn about Walmart’s COVID Leave Policy. In addition, to give associates the flexibility they needed and meet increasing customer demand in our stores, Walmart hired more than 500,000 associates during the pandemic, and our four special cash bonuses were provided to eligible associates regardless of the number of hours worked, helping to relieve pressure on our frontline associates to work if they were not feeling well.
- Affordable medical coverage: For 2021, medical coverage starts at $30.50 per pay period for all full and part-time U.S. associates who have worked an average of 30 hours per week over the past 12 months. This is approximately one-third less than the average premium employees pay at other companies nationally.118
- Centers of Excellence: For associates enrolled in Walmart medical plans, our Centers of Excellence program provides access to some of the best specialists and hospitals for serious medical issues, often at zero cost based on plan enrollment and eligibility. To provide our associates with quality care, Walmart partners with leading health centers, including the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. The Harvard Business Review wrote, “[Center of Excellence] programs are at the vanguard of U.S. companies’ efforts to control health care costs while providing employees with superior care, and results have been dramatic.”
- Grand Rounds: Our program offers expert medical second opinions to associates enrolled in Walmart medical plans and helps with finding a highly rated doctor to see in person. This program is free for enrolled associates.
- Doctor On Demand: For associates enrolled in Walmart medical plans, Doctor On Demand allows affordable, nationwide, virtual access to health care providers for just $4 per use. Walmart has waived (since March 2020, and continues to waive as of June 2021) the co-pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Walton Life Fitness Pass: For as little as $9 per paycheck, a Walton Life Fitness Pass membership provides U.S. associates and their family members access to thousands of fitness centers nationwide.
- A financial incentive for healthier life choices: Associates and their families can be rewarded for making better choices such as eating healthier, walking more or saving more with the Thrive ZP Challenge.
Walmart is partnering with external experts utilizing science, data and technology to help associates enhance their emotional wellness through sustainable behavior changes. Additionally, Walmart provides support for self-care and mental health resources ranging from grief counseling to parenting to managing stress and anxiety. Initiatives include:
- No cost behavioral health services: All associates and their family members, regardless of whether they’re on a Walmart medical plan, can receive support for emotional wellness through Resources for Living. This includes ten counseling sessions per type of concern at no cost and unlimited telephonic support. Resources for Living also provides free resources such as a coping with COVID-19 webinar series and information on how to help kids deal with COVID-19.
- Well-being services through Thrive Global: Walmart entered a partnership with Thrive Global to make resources available to all associates to strengthen physical well-being and mental resilience.
Centers of Excellence
Through our Centers of Excellence (CoE) program, we have partnered with world-class health centers across the U.S. such as Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic to provide treatments such as spine surgery, cancer evaluations, joint replacement and organ transplants.
For associates enrolled in Walmart’s health care plans, the Centers of Excellence program covers all costs, including travel, lodging and meals for the associate and a caregiver companion (except in the case of weight loss surgery). With a few exceptions, there are no co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles.
This innovative program was featured in a Harvard Business Review case study in 2019. The study noted that the CoE program ensures that associates get high-quality care and that Walmart’s success in improving health care value can be a model for others to address the cost and quality dilemma. The results of the CoE program are clear: based on an analysis conducted in partnership with Geisinger Neuroscience Institute and Health Design Plus, Walmart associates who use the CoE program realize better outcomes than those who do not. For example, many CoE patients were able to pursue alternatives to spine surgery and joint replacements based on CoE assessment and care. Of those who did undergo surgery, re-admission rates were dramatically lower than they were with non-CoE treatments. Recovery times were also shorter. More than 95% of Walmart plan members say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their treatment.
CoE-realized outcomes are far superior. See below:
Source: Lisa Woods, Jonathan R. Slotkin, MD, and M. Ruth Coleman, Transforming Healthcare, Harvard Business Review (March 2019) (citing Walmart, Geisinger, and Health Design Plus).
A digital transformation
Digital tools, like the voice assistant app Ask Sam, keep associate teams engaged while making work more rewarding, reducing repetitive tasks and increasing productivity. Most store associates are utilizing digital devices and custom apps to fulfill online orders, manage inventory, stock shelves and answer customer questions.
Technology is also fueling job creation. In one year, our online grocery pick-up business grew significantly and we doubled the number of personal shoppers, the fastest growing role in Walmart U.S. stores—to over 160,000 associates in these technology-empowered roles.
To attract and retain the best talent at all levels and in all functions, we aim to distinguish ourselves as a place of opportunity for associates. Our workforce strategy is uniquely designed to promote upward mobility for our diverse workforce.
- Over 88% of Walmart U.S. store roles above entry-level are filled by internal candidates.
- More than 300,000 U.S. associates were promoted to jobs of greater responsibility and higher pay in FY2021.119 Many of these promotions are related to new roles created under our new teaming structure.
We believe our focus on improving career paths for our associates through robust training, new ways of working and opportunities for advancement has improved turnover rates in the U.S. over the past few years.
Teaming: new job design at Walmart
We’ve been working with and listening to outside experts and job design specialists about what makes a "good job." While there are many components of good jobs, including competitive pay and benefits, it also includes meaningful work and opportunity and support for growth. In FY2021, we introduced a team-based operating model to our U.S. stores—first piloted and implemented at Sam’s Club—that focuses on cross-training and greater associate ownership over their work and store area while developing future leaders. Additional benefits will accrue because team members consistently work together and follow the same schedule, which develops a deeper team mindset while providing greater stability through a consistent schedule. Cross-trained associates will build additional skills, making it easier for those who want more hours to get more hours.
Our team-based model is tiered with new positions, including new hourly management roles, that provide a ladder of opportunity and allow more room for pay and career growth. We raised wages between September 2020 and March 2021 for approximately 590,000 Walmart U.S. associates in our stores with the introduction of this new job design. Through teaming, associates are gaining more skills and a greater understanding of the Walmart business, leading to better customer service capabilities while creating more fulfilling work and wider career paths.
Since 2015, Walmart and other employers have been focused on designing “quality jobs.” Several organizations, including the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), the Federal Reserve of Boston and Gallup, have developed frameworks and definitions of quality jobs that go beyond wages to include creating an environment that is stable and supportive and provides opportunities for growth.
For example, the Job Design Framework from NFWS lays out three broad categories of components that define quality jobs: foundational components such as compensation and job structure; support components such as training, mentoring and team development; and opportunity components such as cross-training and career development.
There is no single definition of quality jobs. Instead, various components are brought together in different ways at different companies for the right context. According to Anmol Chaddha, formerly of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the goal is for companies to engage in a virtuous cycle, taking small steps to improve job quality and realizing real business benefits from those improvements that lead to continued improved job quality and subsequent business benefits.
Walmart provides opportunities for our associates to pursue a wide variety of careers across our omni-channel business while building relevant skills and experience that allow for vertical, horizontal and diagonal career movement.
Training: On-the-job development & Walmart Academy trainings
Training is a critical component of associate growth and success in a fast-changing retail environment. Through our new teaming structure, Walmart has embedded training and on-the-job development into the associate experience starting on day one with the company. There are clear benefits to the training and continual learning cycle starting early in an associate’s tenure. Employees are more likely to stay and grow with a company when they understand what is expected in a role, when they know colleagues and managers and when they develop an understanding of the business.120
We have turned our entry-level training program into a mobile digital experience, allowing for on-demand, on-the-job learning for our U.S. store associates. We are continuing to grow the functionality of this learning app to allow our associates to earn credentials for skills they have demonstrated, such as customer service or cake decorating, which we believe will help associates more easily navigate careers that use or build upon relevant transferable skills.
Since 2016, Walmart’s formal training program, Walmart Academy, has paid associates to learn. Through immersive teaching that combines technology, classroom training and ongoing coaching on the sales floor, associates learn retail fundamentals and prepare for their first supervisory roles and for advanced managerial positions. Walmart has built more than 200 Academies in the U.S. and we continue to build and open new facilities.
In FY2021, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we trained approximately 95,000 associates via Walmart Academy, including in-person and virtual trainings. We have found that more than 80% of Walmart Academy graduates are retained for an additional year. Our higher education partners through Live Better U have also approved Academy trainings for college credit, and $9.9 million in college credit value was awarded to our associates in FY2021.
In addition to our associates, we announced in June 2021 that we are opening up Academy training to non-Walmart associates in the communities we serve. The Community Academies share knowledge and skills with local residents and focus on topics of interest to that particular community. Available courses may change over time and have included offerings such as resume building, interviewing, computer/mobile device basics, budgeting, banking, standardized test preparation, navigating college admissions and house and car buying.
Education offerings: Walmart’s Live Better U
Live Better U (LBU) provides eligible associates with free or subsidized121 formal higher education opportunities that meet them wherever they are on their education journey. We designed our education program to remove the barriers that too often stop someone from getting a degree, specifically:
- Cost: Student-loan debt in the U.S. now tops $1.7 trillion, but eligible Walmart associates can earn associate and bachelor’s degrees at a nominal cost, representing a chance to graduate debt-free from an accredited university
- Time: Students can save time by getting credit for previous learning, including paid training at Walmart Academy and credits earned at other institutions
- Navigating an unfamiliar system: Associates will receive support from an education coach on everything from selecting the appropriate degree to academic and retention coaching
- Relevance in a changing economy: The programs focus on in-demand degrees and certificates in relevant and growing fields
- Low completion rates among adult learners: LBU engages institutions known for their success working with adult learners and their focus on completion rather than enrollment
As we studied the best ways to build a college access program, it became clear that many models are not designed with the realities of the working learner in mind. Reimbursement models, for example, frontload costs on the learner while other company-sponsored plans use college access programs to move employees out rather than up.
Since Walmart launched LBU in 2018, more than 44,000 Walmart associates have enrolled. More than 6,000 students have completed LBU programs, including over 320 graduates who have earned an associate or bachelor’s degree in an in-demand field. At the end of 2020, our associates had completed 290,000 college credits worth more than an estimated $123 million.
LBU snapshot, as of the end of FY2021
|LBU Program||Cost to associate||Number of LBU students enrolled (since 2018 and as of Jan 2021)||Number of LBU graduates (since 2018 and as of Jan 2021)|
|High School Completion||$0||8,463||2,109|
|ESL / Language programs||$0||N/A – Launched April 2021||N/A – Launched April 2021|
|“College Start” - introductory classes for bachelor’s degrees||$0||7,354||2,335|
|Career diplomas in eight fields (e.g., optician, construction, electrician training)||$0||7,090||63|
|People and Business Leadership certificate||$1/day||1,477||715|
|Other certificates (e.g., web design, project management and business analytics)127||$1/day||2,105||507|
Learn more at Live Better U.
Strengthening workforce development beyond Walmart
Talent is distributed equitably but often opportunity is not. The Walmart.org Economic Opportunity in Retail Initiative seeks to promote equitable advancement with a focus on America’s frontline talent.
Education beyond high school is key to increasing economic mobility, but more than half of American adults do not have a post-secondary degree. Through business and philanthropic initiatives, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have collaborated with leading non-profits, government agencies, education providers, key funders and other employers to create a movement around stronger learning systems for working adults and greater recognition of skills—including skills acquired through alternative learning models—in the workplace. Through this work, we are aiming for the equitable advancement of frontline workers.
Walmart supports workforce training and education policy efforts and actively engages in business collaboratives such as the Business Roundtable’s Multiple Pathways Initiatives and Jobs for the Future’s Recover Stronger initiative that are focused on building stronger career pathways for workers using skills as the currency for mobility.
Since 2015, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have invested in organizations that work to create multiple pathways to equitable advancement for retail and other service sector workers who do not have college degrees. The initiative includes:
- Seeding and scaling innovative learning models for adult workers without college degrees so more people can access learning through work. For example, we have supported organizations like EdX’s MicroBachelors program, the Claremont Graduate University Drucker Institute’s Bendable initiative, Merit America and Calbright College (an initiative of the Foundation for California Community Colleges), each of which have developed programs that connect people to effective upskilling.
- Building a hiring and advancement system that can recognize and verify the skills people learn through alternative learning models. Our grants to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and to Credential Engine support the creation of standards and practices to verify and validate the skills people earned through alternative routes like on the job learning. We are helping invest in a system that seeks to ensure skills are clearly articulated and transferrable across a person’s career.
- Engaging employers to adopt and implement equitable hiring and advancement practices that drive greater career mobility. For example, organizations like FSG’s Talent Rewire and National Fund for Workforce Solutions work directly with large and small employers to incorporate tools and resources to adopt equitable hiring and advancement practices.
Walmart.org is also engaging employers to adopt and implement equitable hiring and advancement practices that will drive greater career mobility. For example, our Center for Racial Equity includes a workstream that focuses on equity in education and the workforce. One of our initial investments is as a founding partner to OneTen, a coalition of leading executives who are coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black individuals in America over the next ten years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.
- Opportunity is not equally distributed across society, particularly along racial, ethnic, economic, gender and geographic lines.
- The economic and cultural environment favors traditional educational models over on-the-job education and skills development, and there is an immature market for cost-effective, practical tools to rapidly build skills among adult learners.
- Achievement of Walmart’s workforce development aspirations is dependent on retailers and other similar businesses embracing the business case for frontline workforce development, as well as the concept of building skills through alternative routes gaining momentum in businesses and the effective engagement of associates in building capabilities relevant for advancement.
- Social science and economic philosophy are still developing on the most effective strategies for frontline workforce development at scale, and there are differences of opinion on what constitutes a good job and a fair and compelling associate value proposition. As a result, there are pressures for faster or more urgent action in certain aspects of Walmart’s overall human capital strategy (e.g., base hourly wage) that may obscure the importance of other strategies that promote economic and career mobility (e.g., benefits, upskilling offering).
- Walmart is subject to local, national, and international economic trends and realities. There is strong competition among employers for skilled, diverse workers, and labor surpluses and shortages can impact retail businesses. In the United States, the federal minimum wage currently creates downward pressure on wages in certain regions of the United States.
- Walmart’s business is evolving rapidly. Customer trends towards omni-channel shopping, including pickup and delivery, change the skills necessary in Walmart's frontline workforce and may outpace incumbent associates' skills and readiness.
- National and global catastrophic events, including pandemics, can exacerbate many of the above factors.