Walmart is testing a new dress code that gives employees more freedom in what they can wear on the job. Under the pilot program, which has been rolled out to fewer than 100 stores, workers can wear solid color blue jeans instead of khaki-colored or black denim pants. They also can wear a solid-color shirt of their choosing instead of solid blue or white shirts. Corporate Communications Director Justin Rushing says Walmart is always listening to its associates, and their feedback helps test these kinds of ideas. There's no end date for the test.
Total Retail's Take: Walmart is trying to change its image of being a staid, traditional brand that keeps tight control over its employees into one of an accommodating company that's more attractive to workers. A relaxed dress code, increased wages and bonuses, and new employee benefits (e.g., expanded maternity and parental leave benefits) are all initiatives put into place this year to help Walmart attract and retain employees, particularly for its stores, in a tightening labor market. As for the dress code itself, store associates are the face of a retail brand, and I believe it's wise to have a policy in place to instruct workers on how they should be presenting themselves to customers. A good first impression can go a long way to gain a shopper's trust. With that said, common sense measures such as allowing employees to wear blue jeans would seem to be an easy concession for Walmart to make, and in the process earn it valuable good will from its employees.