Walmart, For Better Or Worse

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Misc
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Founded by Sam Walton in 1962 with a focus on lower prices to encourage customer loyalty, Walmart revolutionized the retail world. From the very beginning Walton’s vision was to operate at the peak of efficiency by cutting unnecessary luxuries; contract with smaller and cheaper suppliers beginning the national trend toward lower quality products; and to build a customer base by offering the best deals in town. Currently employing more than 2 million people around the world, the Walmart chain continues with this business model.

Over the decades, Walmart has struggled with its image as an employer. The no frills corporate attitude has left employees with poverty level incomes, minimal health insurance, and poor working conditions. “Americans can’t live on a Walmart paycheck,” says Greg Denier, communications director for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). “Yet it’s the dominant employer, and what they pay will be the future of working America.” Multiple class action lawsuits have brought attention to the common practice of working employees extra hours off the clock. This type of environment lends itself to high turnover and low morale; unfortunately this dissatisfaction amongst the employees effects customer service. This cycle continues with unhappy and frustrated customers having little patience and giving the employees no respect.

At times it seems that Walmart attracts the worst in our society. There is no other store with a website dedicated to capturing embarrassing images of the tired, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse of American shoppers. Spend a few minutes looking around People of Walmart and you will feel ashamed at how far we have slid as a people.

However I have to wonder where America would be without Walmart. The harsh treatment and low-balling of foreign suppliers along with the low employee wages and poor benefits serve to keep the prices lower than competitors, which trickles value down to the consumers. With the depressed economy, Walmart’s “everyday low prices” helps keep food on many families’ tables.

There are a lot of current, and former, employees expressing their dissatisfaction with the Walmart conglomeration across the web. And there are an equal number of people telling them to just get another job. Both sides are right…and wrong. The constant need to back-fill a revolving door of seemingly disposable employees results in lower requirements on hiring policies, which allows for a greater number of less qualified job market candidates. I have an incredibly intelligent friend with the mind of a computer who, admittedly, made some mistakes in his younger years and consequentially paid for them. More than 10 years later and he still receives rejection after rejection, but thanks to Walmart he is working again. The job is physical so his body aches, and the managers tend to treat his coworkers poorly, but HE IS WORKING. This story is demonstrated again and again around the world with a decrease in the unemployment rate in the area surrounding the stores.

Through all of Walmart’s very visible public relations struggles with wage-wars and healthcare mandates, they made a surprisingly quiet move when they extended benefits to domestic partners of both gay and straight full-time employees for 2014. This move put them among the majority of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic-partner health-care benefits.

No matter your stance on Walmart’s corporate practices, please have some compassion for the employees you interact with; remember that, like you, these people are trying to provide for their families and ultimately want to find happiness. The desire to feel valued is something we all have in common.

  1. Mythoughts76 says:

    I grocery shop at Walmart because I’m on a very tight budget and I can buy more food there for my bucks!

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