Walmart is a leading retail company in the United States, known for its use of innovation. Due to the fact that this is a retail business, it depends on the quality of associates’ communication with the customers and their ability to assist the latter. Hence, the focus of Walmart’s training approach is communications and simulations of real-life store scenarios. The primary tool that this retailer uses at its “Walmart Academies” is VR headsets. As for rewards, Walmart provides its employees with cash bonuses for the achievement of work targets. Additionally, employees can get up to 48 hours of time off if they adhere to their work schedules diligently, which they can use for unexpected events. The punishments target employee absences that have no legal basis or were not discussed with the management. The contribution of the training, reward, and punishment system to Walmart’s success is shown through the dedication to ensuring that there is enough personnel in each store and that these associates are prepared to resolve conflicts.
Walmart is among the biggest corporations in the United States. The main focus of this business is retail since Walmart sells products to consumers through its stores across the state. The primary focus of the training system is on the in-store associates, who have to work directly with the customers. The rewards and punishments are also structured toward this group of employees. This paper will address employee training, compensation, and punishment systems at Walmart.
Technical and Technological Training Tools
This section will examine the employee training practices applied at Walmart. Lewis (2019) argues that this retailer has revolutionized the approach to organizational training. This was achieved primarily through the use of technology and innovation. Mainly, the company’s training centers are referred to as “Walmart Academies,” where future associates are brief on the specifics of their work and trained to work in stores (Lewis, 2019). For the retail industry, the on-the-floor employees should be trained to communicate with the customers and assist them if necessary, and Walmart trains its employees by using technology. One example of innovation is the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets, which are used to simulate in-store experiences and scenarios (Lewis, 2019). There are two benefits of this approach, and the first one is that the training does not have to take place within the actual stores. The employees are exposed to challenging situations in a safe environment. Secondly, the use of VR headsets allows for conducting training at whatever time necessary. Therefore, the first technological training tool used at Walmart Academies is a VR headset.
The VR allows for simulating different scenarios, and work environments and assessing employees’ skills. Lewis (2019) states that since the implementation of this tool, the management witnessed “improvements in employee test scores from training sessions” from 5% to 10%. Moreover, the VR tool helps prepare the staff for challenging situations, such as the Black Friday sales, which otherwise could not be adequately simulated. Hence, apart from the traditional methods of employee briefing and training, Walmart uses technology to prepare its associates for their future work better.
Rewards and Punishment
Walmart has a firm rewards policy for its best-performing employees. The middle management has to use enforcement strategies for the rewards and punishment strategies because “policies without enforcement are not policies,” and the employees view them as guidelines (Geng, 2020, para. 2). Hence, although Walmart has set rules for the number of workdays and absences for the associates and has set benchmarks for performance, the middle management needs tools to enforce these guidelines.
Walmart’s primary strategy for rewarding associates is by providing them with financial bonuses. For example, associates receive an “additional 25 percent on the quarterly cash bonuses they currently receive based on store performance” (Holler, n.d.). This system is designed to reward the employees who have successfully achieved the instore goals within a quarter. Next, a Protected PTO policy allows employees to earn bonus time off (Holler, n.d.). This time can be used when an employee encounters an unexpected event and needs to take time off. Hence, associates who work diligently receive bonuses that allow them to take more time off when compared to employees who do not perform well. In most cases, employees can receive up to 48 hours of a time reserve (Holler, n.d.). This policy contributes to the employee’s ability to retail their job in case they have an illness or unforeseeable events.
Walmart has adjusted its rewards system during the pandemic to align it with the new strategy of the business and the restrictions. According to Yahoo (2020), during the pandemic, Walmart’s management dedicated $428 million to cash bonuses for the employees who help the retailer serve its customers. Walmart has seen a surge in sales, especially as consumers bought more essential items. Hence, to reward employees for their work during the pandemic, the company offered them cash bonuses (Yahoo, 2020). Thus, Walmart’s policies for rewards align with the strategic targets of the business because they help ensure that the stores have enough employees to perform the daily tasks.
From Walmart’s focus on employee attendance, one can understand that it is the core success factor for the business. Hence, the company’s punishment policies are focused on this metric as well, with most punishments addressing the issue of employee absence (Abrams, 2017). Other penalties are dedicated to resolving customer complaints. However, Walmart appears to focus on rewards rather than enforcement of strict punishment policies, which contributes to the employee’s satisfaction with work.
Contribution of Training to the Success
Training systems have a direct impact on the businesses’ success, especially int he retail. This industry relies on the employee’s ability to serve the needs of the customers. As was mentioned, Lewis (2019) cites several examples of training scenarios that Walmart simulates through its VR headsets. For example, the Black Friday sales that usually attract many customers to the stores or an angry client that requires the attention of a manager are prominent examples of how Walmart uses VR. When compared to a discussion of scenarios, the benefit of VR is that an employee is placed into a specific situation, and they can experience it visually and auditory. Hence, they can gain hands-on experience in addressing unhappy customers, how to talk to them, what reactions they might expect, and other valuable lessons. This approach is necessary because training should be affected by the type of business strategy the company pursues, and Walmart’s goal is to be a daily go-to store for the consumers and enforce the Every Day Low Prices (John, 2019 ). To achieve this, the company requires each store to have enough personnel to serve the customers, help put out the items, and answer requests.
Walmart’s Academies and the use of VR help achieve success because less time and effort are needed to train the personnel. VR can be used anywhere at any time, and employees do not need special assistance or help from a training specialist to discuss and simulate work scenarios. Since the training should be fast and efficient to prepare new associates quickly, considering the nature of the retail business and staff turnaround, VR is an excellent tool. With VR, Walmart has no restrictions in terms of a place of training, there is no need for human resources professionals to be present at each of these training sessions, and the training can take place whenever it is needed.
Finally, having Walmart Academies as a centralized training facility is also beneficial. This helps have better control over the resource use and ensure that the quality of training is consistent. Moreover, with this, Walmart can transfer its corporate culture to the new associates. Hene, the training and development practices that Walmart uses help this business achieve its strategic targets and prepare new employees quickly and with lesser resources needed.
Overall, this paper uses Walmart’s example to discuss the retailer’s approach to employee training, development, reward, and punishment. The company uses innovation and novel tools in its training practices, which allows preparing the sales associates for varied scenarios that can happen in-store through VR. Moreover, the rewards policies are focused on ensuring that employees spend enough time in the stores. Walmart’s training policies align with the business’ Everyday Low Prices strategy because they allow preparing new associates in a fast and efficient manner.
Abrams, R. (2017). Walmart is accused of punishing workers for sick days. The New York Times. Web.
Geng, J. (2020). Reward and punishment: Strategies for enforcement of safety policies. Linkedin. Web.
Holler, D. (2019). Walmart introduces increased rewards and protected PTO for associates nationwide. Walmart. Web.
John, S. (2019). How Walmart keeps its prices so low. Business Insider. Web.
Lewis, N. (2019). Walmart revolutionizes its training with virtual reality. SHRM. Web.
Yahoo. Walmart announces more than $700 million in additional associate bonuses, topping $2.8 billion in total cash bonuses to associates in 2020.