Walmart is testing out a higher minimum starting wage for certain jobs at about 500 of its stores as part of a broader overhaul of roles and responsibilities across its U.S. workforce. According to Bloomberg, Walmart is raising starting minimum hourly wages to $12 from $11. Under the retailer’s new operating model, dubbed “Great Workplace,” some associates will see their hourly pay rise from $11 an hour to $12, Walmart spokeswoman Jami Lamontagne told Bloomberg. Those roles include cashiers, shelf stockers and deli workers.
Walmart, the biggest private employer in the nation, said the wage hike is a test and it has no plans to raise wages more broadly. The redefined roles carry more responsibility, Walmart has said, which justifies the higher compensation. The changes also incorporate the elimination of longer-term roles like assistant manager and customer service manager, replacing them with jobs such as academy trainer, team lead, and coach.
“We're really excited about our test that further empowers our associates to take care of customers,” Drew Holler, senior vice president of U.S. people and associate experience, told Bloomberg. “Finding new ways to pay and recognize our associates has been part of tests, and this is the next step.”
Total Retail's Take: Walmart's latest move is being applauded by industry insiders. In today's tight labor market, retailers are increasingly in competition for decent workers, and increasing wages is a great way to entice them. What's more, it's probably time. Walmart hasn't increased its minimum wages since January 2018, when it boosted minimum hourly wage for its U.S. employees to $11 and gave out bonuses of up to $1,000. However, even with this latest boost in compensation, Walmart still lags other rivals. For example, Walmart is still below Amazon.com's $15 an hour rate, and Target and Costco both offer higher starting hourly pay than Walmart. Finally, the move comes as Walmart, like many other retailers, is under pressure to improve customer service as it fights online behemoth Amazon. What's unclear, however, is whether the test is Walmart’s first step toward boosting its starting pay across to the board to all of its 1.5 million employees.