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Walmart Unveils New Associate Efforts

The world’s largest retailer plans to become more focused on its associates and their ideas, in an effort to continue positive comp sales and improved shopper satisfaction.

Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran and COO Judith McKenna outlined steps to drive greater simplicity, provide associates the tools they need to serve customers, and continue to listen to and act upon associate ideas. The Walmart U.S. leaders spoke to nearly 3,000 associates from around the country as part of the week-long events surrounding the retailer’s annual shareholders meeting in Fayetteville, Ark.

Among the changes: Walmart will return to featuring its “Our People Make the Difference” slogan on employees’ name badges by the end of the year.

“I'm proud to say that we're bringing back ‘Our People Make the Difference’ on our badges. These words are just as important today, and to our future, as they ever were,” Foran said.

“The best part of my job is getting out in stores and learning from associates,” he continued. “There is nothing I like better than hearing about your jobs, your ideas, your hopes and dreams, your frustrations and listening to how we can make your lives easier.”

In February, Walmart announced a $1 billion investment in its U.S. workforce, including raising its minimum wage to $9 an hour, implementing new training programs and giving associates more control over their schedules. In addition, the company’s U.S. leadership has committed that stores will be cleaner, faster and friendlier and have better in-stocks by the start of the holiday season.

The U.S. business has recorded three consecutive quarters of positive comp sales and solid growth in in-store traffic, which has been positive the past two quarters. In addition, over the last quarter, customer experience scores improved across all Walmart formats, the company said.

McKenna said she is hearing that associates, while excited about the changes they are seeing with pay, training and scheduling, also want leadership to reduce the complexity that has gradually been added to store jobs.

“You told us we've made it harder for you to do what you do best, which is serving our customers. Your feedback is helping us understand how we support you better and remove the distractions that get in your way,” McKenna said. “Taking care of our customers begins with taking care of you. It's that simple. My commitment to you is that we will continue to listen, and, more importantly, act on what we hear.”

Foran pledged to continue working for associates to make it easier for them to serve customers. “We know you need the tools to do your job well. You make a difference for customers, so our job in Bentonville is to get you what you need. We will win one customer at a time and if we work together, we will get the army that is Walmart to march and we can make a difference for our customers."

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