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Walmart offers new perks for workers, from a new bonus plan to opportunities in skilled trade jobs

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June 6, 2024
By The Associated Press

Walmart is offering new perks for its hourly U.S. workers, ranging from a new bonus plan to opportunities to move into skilled trade jobs within the company.

The perks program announced Wednesday comes as the nation’s largest private employer says it’s seeing a decline in worker turnover. But Walmart, like other employers, faces a still-competitive labor market and increasing demands from its employees.

Walmart’s new bonus plan for eligible part-time and full-time U.S. store workers — including those in its pharmacy and Vision Centers — is based on their store’s performance, with the maximum bonus potential also tied to years of experience.

For example, a full-time worker who’s been with Walmart between one year and almost five years can earn a maximum bonus of $350 per year, while a 20-year full-time worker can earn a maximum bonus of $1,000, Walmart said. The plan will be available to 700,000 U.S. workers, the company said.

In January, Walmart announced its U.S. store managers would receive up to $20,000 in Walmart stock grants every year.

The company, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is also launching a training program for hourly workers in its U.S. stores and supply networks that will give them an opportunity to move into roles in facilities maintenance, refrigeration, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and automation. Walmart said it is looking to increase these skilled trades workers from 450 to roughly 2,000 in the next two years.

The jobs pay between $19 and $45 per hour, and workers will be paid during the training, the company said. Walmart’s average hourly wage is close to $18, an increase of 30% over the past five years. Walmart’s starting wages for U.S. workers range between $14 and $19 an hour.

The training program is expected to start with 100 workers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is part of the Walmart Academy, one of the largest skill-development programs in the country.

Last month, Walmart reported another quarter of strong results as its low prices pull in shoppers scouring for discounts amid stubbornly high inflation.

Households with incomes exceeding $100,000 have been drawn to the retailer as it upgrades the quality of its items and focuses on providing more convenient ways to shop. Two-thirds of Walmart’s market share gains across the aisles are coming from that group, Walmart said.

Walmart said the skilled trades initiative is similar to a program it announced two years ago that gave employees who work in its distribution and fulfillment centers a chance to become certified Walmart truck drivers through a 12-week program taught by the company’s established drivers.

At the time, it said it was raising pay for its 12,000 truck drivers. The starting range for new drivers is now between $95,000 and $110,000 a year. The retailer said that $87,500 had been the average that new truck drivers could make in their first year.

Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said the trucker program has produced more than 500 new drivers since launching in the spring of 2022. That’s helped the company navigate an industrywide shortage of truck drivers.

Walmart has similar training and development programs for pharmacy tech and opticians.

Meanwhile, Walmart said Wednesday it is expanded the number of skills certificates available to help fast-track front-line workers into about 100,000 jobs that are higher paying and in demand at the company over the next three years.

In 2020, the company offered five skilled certificates. Now, there are 50. They include topics such as front-line manager leadership, people and business leadership, data science, software development and project management.

Employees can earn the certificates in four months, according to Lo Stomski, Walmart’s senior vice president and chief talent officer.

Walmart highlighted its worker training efforts as it prepares to hold two big events this week. A virtual shareholders’ meeting is set for Wednesday. On Friday, the company is holding a celebration of its workers at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to recognize Walmart’s employees from around the world as well as shareholders.

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