Walmart Inc. is testing a slightly higher minimum wage in about 500 locations, in tandem with the introduction of a more flexible way of managing store workflow, according to a published report.
In the test stores, Walmart has raised upped the hourly pay for team associates, a newly created role, from $11 to $12, CNBC reported, noting that some of the new employees would work as cashiers, shelf stockers and deli associates.
Despite the pay hike for some workers, Walmart doesn’t intend to raise wages more generally, according to CNBC, which characterized the mega-retailer’s aim as moving from a department model focused on narrow tasks to a more inclusive, team-based approach, a change that will eventually give lower-level associates in the test stores more responsibilities. Additionally, roles such as assistant manager and customer-service manager will be phased out and replaced with the positions like academy trainer, team lead, coach and store lead.
With associates receiving more training, they’ll have “wider paths for advancement,” a company representative told CNBC.
“We are really excited about our test that further empowers our associates to take care of customers,” Drew Holler, Walmart’s SVP of U.S. people and associate experience, said in an email provided to CNBC. “Our associates are enjoying learning new skills and working on small teams within their store.”
Since January 2018, Walmart’s minimum wage has been $11 an hour, lower than those of Target ($13 currently, but set to hit $15 by the end of this year), Costco ($15) and Amazon ($15).
The company has drawn the ire of advocates of higher minimum-wage pay, including presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt.-I, who has introduced legislation to get business like Walmart and Amazon to pay their employees more, and even attended Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting last year to address pay and benefits issues, as well as to introduce an ultimately unsuccessful measure to give hourly employees a place on Walmart’s board.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.