By Matt Smith, Walmart Corporate Affairs
Having the products and services you want, when you want them is a key part of any shopping experience.
It may feel like something that just happens, but when it comes to staffing the people who bring this to life, it’s a process that’s carefully planned. In a store with several hundred associates, scheduling is a complex task. There are many different scheduling demands, both for operating the store and managing the personal needs of individual people. Mothers, fathers and students all have different pressures on their time.
Recently, Walmart set out to reinvent the way store schedules work with both customers and associates in mind. The result is a new system that prepares stores to be ready to serve customers while giving our associates more predictable and flexible scheduling options. As of the end of November, our new scheduling system will be in all our U.S. stores just in time for the holidays.
Scheduling Right for Our Associates
Just like our customers, our associates have told us that they are always on the move and need to manage their schedules as things change. To help with this, we developed a new app that helps them do so – it’s called, simply, My Walmart Schedule.
My Walmart Schedule allows associates to view schedules, swap shifts with other associates and even pick up unfilled shifts. This gives associates more control of their time than ever before, allowing them to adjust quickly when plans change.
Through the app, associates can also pick up shifts to work extra hours above what they are scheduled, if they like. In stores where the new system was tested, associates reported that they enjoyed learning different parts of the store. Once associates are trained in a certain skill, they can simply go into the app and pick up shifts.
“You can work as a stocker. You can work as a cashier if you want,” department manager Masar Alanbaki said. “You can work anywhere you want in the store, as long as you are trained.”
For those who would rather have consistency, the new approach helps with that, too. It’s a simple idea, but getting there is pretty complex. Most Walmart stores are 24-hour operations, so there are a number of shifts throughout the day to be filled.
To help give associates consistency, the new system schedules using a method called “core hours.” An associate with a core-hour schedule will work the same weekly shifts for at least 13 weeks, giving that associate the ability to plan his or her life around work. Today, nearly 2,000 stores have associates on a core-hour schedule, and all stores will have the option by early next year.
Additionally, My Walmart Schedule gives associates more flexibility in terms of shifts. Before, there were few options to build schedules that made it easy to plan around the important moments in life, like a dance recital or soccer games. By asking an associate when they are truly and consistently available to work, the system can develop schedules that more closely fit their lifestyle.
Today, when the new system develops a schedule, it creates a variety of shifts based on when associates are available and when customers will be in the store. The result is a schedule that works for customers and for associates.
Managers say this new simplified approach has saved them a ton of time – as many as eight hours per week, in fact, allowing them to spend more time on the sales floor with their associates and customers.
In life, the struggle between best-laid plans and random events will continue. But, more predictable scheduling and more flexibility to adjust to changes can help make this common struggle a little easier for our associates – and ensure our stores are ready for customers, whenever they’re ready to shop.