Why Investing in People Makes Sense for Our Business

“Our company is built on people. The success we’ve had is because our people.” That’s what Walmart founder Sam Walton used to say, and it’s what we still believe.

As the largest private employer in America, with 1.3 million associates, Walmart has a big responsibility to the people who work hard to serve our customers. That’s why earlier this year, our CEO, Doug McMillon, announced a series of changes for associates in the U.S. that will not only provide higher pay but also the ability to advance in their careers.

We’re raising wages for our associates

To be exact, over this year and next, Walmart is investing $2.7 billion in higher wages, training, and education. This means more opportunity for our associates and even better service for our customers.

We’re providing more scheduling flexibility for our associates

But wages are only one portion of the equation – the number of hours worked is just as important. So another element of our commitment is a new approach to scheduling that allows associates more options for when they work. It’s a program called Scheduling Choice – which is currently in pilot and should roll out next year – and it’s already been successful in reducing turnover by 15% in stores that are participating.

We’re launching new training to give our associates clearer pathways to advance

We’re also helping our associates gain skills that will help them advance in their careers. Our Pathways program, which we’re also piloting and plan to roll out across the company next year, will provide associates with training on three things: the retail business model, the basic skills needed to do their jobs, and the soft skills that are critical to success. We know that we’re a first job for a lot of people, and we want to make sure that the skills our associates gain with us will help their next jobs be those of greater responsibility and pay.

Did you know that more than 75% of our current store management teams started as hourly associates? Clearly Walmart has a rich history of creating opportunity for advancement, and our current investment shows that we’re determined to build on that.



In Letter to Associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay

Editor’s Note: Earlier today, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon sent this letter and video to our U.S. associates, outlining a new approach to the jobs we offer.

As many of you know, I’m really proud to have been a Walmart associate for a long time. This company has given so many of us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. We joined Walmart because we wanted a job but found much more than that. This company is a really special place. One of the reasons we’ve had some success is that we’ve known that every person, every voice, every idea has potential. You’ve heard us say things like our secret to success is that we’re all working together and that “our people make the difference.” While that phrase started as a meeting theme in 1979, it became a way of thinking. It’s what we believe. It’s what I believe. Our actions must match our beliefs. So today, we’re announcing a series of important changes that demonstrate our commitment to you, our associates.

After all, we’re all associates. We have different roles at different times in our career and every one of them is important. Today’s cashiers will be tomorrow’s store or club managers. Today’s managers are tomorrow’s vice presidents. Tomorrow’s CEO will almost definitely come from inside our company. During our recent Walmart U.S. year beginning meeting, I asked all of those in the arena, more than 7,000 people, to stand if they started their Walmart career in an hourly role. It felt like almost everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. It made the word opportunity real.  In fact, our statistics show that about 75% of our U.S. management teams began in an hourly role.

So, how do we make sure that each one of you has the same opportunity, or better, as those that came before?

It starts by making sure we’re setting you up for success. We need great store managers and assistant managers who know what they’re doing, care about you and know how to teach effectively. We need stores with the right tools and environment for you to thrive. I think you feel the same way.  When I’m out in stores today, one thing I hear from associates at all levels is that you want to be freed up and empowered to serve your customers better.  You also want to know that there’s opportunity here and that your hard work will be recognized and rewarded. Our business is pretty simple when we boil it all down; sometimes we make it too complicated.

I’ve seen us change a lot over the years. We’re always trying to do the right thing and build a stronger business. We frequently get it right but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we adjust.  In recent years we’ve had tough economic environments, a rapidly growing company, and fundamental shifts in how customers are shopping.  We also made a few changes aimed at productivity and efficiency that undermined the feeling of ownership some of you have for your business.  When we take a step back, it’s clear to me that one of our highest priorities must be to invest more in our people this year.

Today, we’re announcing a package of changes in Walmart U.S. that will kick off a new approach to our jobs.  We’re pursuing comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure, and these changes will be sustainable over the long term.  

One of the most immediate changes is that we’ll raise our starting pay, and we’ll provide opportunities for further raises based on performance.  For our current associates, we’ll start by raising our entry wage to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour.  I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Walmart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program.  We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.  There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart.

Sam’s Club is also making some important changes today, specifically to starting wages. Around the world, we operate with the same set of beliefs, and we’ll continue to share what we learn across countries. Every associate matters.  

As important as a starting wage is, what’s even more important is opportunity, and we’ll continue to provide that ladder that any of you can climb.

I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it.  And I want nothing more than for every Walmart associate today to feel that same connection to the company that I feel and to have the same opportunities I’ve had.  Let’s work together to serve our customers, grow our company, and take care of one another. 

Thanks for all you do.  You really do make the difference.



First, Family – But Then, an Exciting New Future

Life threw my family and me a curveball a few years ago when my oldest sister became ill. My mother had to leave her job to care for my sister – and I knew I had to make a change. Not only to help provide for them during this time, but to be there and remain close as a family.

I found that opportunity at Walmart. Being hired at the store on West Diversey Avenue in Chicago immediately eliminated the long commute to my previous job. But what I quickly discovered was I'd also walked into an opportunity with a future.

I started as an associate in the consumables department and, within three months, was promoted to second shift inventory supervisor. So, I was the one coordinating everything that happened with products from the time they arrived at our store to the time they hit the shelves. Now I’m working first shift, supervising about 10 people at any given time.

In the short time I’ve been with Walmart, I’ve worked for some great people. I’ve been open with them about wanting to learn and experience more, so they've allowed me to go to a few new and remodeled stores to help get them ready for opening day. I’ve seen people move up quickly here and I’m being given the opportunity to position myself to do the same.

But it's not just about what Walmart is doing for me. When my oldest sister passed away, things were tough, especially for my mom. My other sister and I were there for her, but she needed something more – a place to fit in and bring purpose to her life again. My Walmart store came through for her. She was hired and has found a second family here. I see her out there, smiling again. And that means everything in the world to me.

Coming to Walmart has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I can see myself becoming an assistant manager or store manager in the not-so-distant future. It makes such a difference being somewhere you can believe in and get behind what they’re trying to do. Walmart is here to help people live better, and for me, that’s a real thing.

Miguel Rivera is one of several real associates who can be seen in this Walmart ad about our investment in higher wages, education and training.



Writing a Wish List, and Stumbling Upon a Career

Eleven years ago, Jean Mullins didn’t have just one job, or two jobs – she worked as many as four at a time. From babysitting to mowing yards, cleaning houses and painting, she did anything she could to support her children. For fun, she’d take them to Walmart, where they’d make wish lists of the things they wanted, and after spending so much time there, she decided to apply for a job.

She got that job, and today, it’s her only one. A career may not have been on Jean’s wish list, but it’s what she quickly built. Watch how she says filling out that application changed her life for the better.

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From Summer Job to Career – and Unexpected Passion

Those were my words during a recent Walmart commercial shoot. And I sincerely meant them. In January, my wife and I welcomed our first son into the world. That continues to be the most rewarding and life-changing experience. I was still on cloud nine in March, when I learned I was being promoted to store manager of the Walmart at 1455 East Lake Cook Road in Wheeling, Ill.

But when I say, “I’m happy,” I’m not just talking about this year. When I was going to school, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the rest of my family. My dad is a firefighter, my mom is a nurse and I wanted to go into law enforcement. The bottom line was, I wanted to help people. I just didn't realize I was going to find that calling in retail – as a Walmart associate.

For me, Walmart began as a part-time summer job in the suburbs of Chicago when I graduated from high school. It was a way to earn money until I went away to college. But Walmart helped find me a store to transfer to near campus. As a kid, you really do have a world of opportunity with Walmart. Whether you're into marketing, computers, planning, training – there’s a path for you to learn and grow. And I was pretty quick to realize that.

I started unloading trucks, and then moved into sporting goods and other departments. After graduation, I put my law enforcement studies to work as a loss prevention manager, and that really sealed the deal. I thrived on the team environment, support and interaction with people. I had opportunities to leave and go into law enforcement like I’d planned, but I didn’t. I stayed, and that’s turned out to be a great decision.

As store manager, I’m basically CEO of my building. I have roughly 300 associates I’m responsible for, and we work together to overcome challenges and achieve success every day. What started as a summer job has grown into a career and, honestly, the freedom to follow my passion.

Working with young associates and getting everyone to rally together for a common goal is where I’m at my best. I see myself in every new associate. I’ve been there, and now I’m the one helping open doors for them. All I ever wanted to do was help people. That’s what I do every day with Walmart.

Mike Zakaras is one of several real associates who can be seen in this Walmart ad about our investment in higher wages, education and training.    

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The Other Half of a Good Job: a Schedule That Works

One of the biggest challenges of being an hourly worker is maintaining a work schedule that fits your personal life. A manager usually decides when you work, and arranging your daily activities to meet the demands of your job can sometimes get complicated. At Walmart, we want to change that, so we’re working to put systems in place that will give many of our store associates more control over their schedules.

In 2013, when I was a co-manager in Van Buren, Arkansas, I was excited to learn that my store was chosen to pilot a program that would offer many of our associates more choice in their schedules. Having worked in a Walmart store for nearly two decades, beginning as a part-time hourly associate, I know firsthand how difficult scheduling can be, and I was eager to make a difference and improve the process.

In our pilot program, hourly associates who prefer more fixed, consistent schedules have a greater opportunity to work the same hours on the same days based on business needs. Those who prefer more flexibility have greater visibility into shifts that are available and can pick and choose which shifts work for them each week, up to more than two weeks in advance.

Over the last 18 months, more than 60 hourly associates in the Van Buren store alone have moved from part time to full time, just by being able to see available shifts and choose more hours. In fact, we’ve been so pleased with initial results that we expanded the pilot to include stores in Wichita, Kansas; Rockford, Illinois; and Kissimmee, Florida, and it will be available in more U.S. stores in the coming months.

While changing the way we create schedules has been an adjustment for some, the majority of associates in our pilot stores seem happy with the new program. We’ve seen an improvement in attendance and turnover, which, in turn, helps us provide customers a better shopping experience. 

When I started working at Walmart, I never imagined I would still be here 20 years later. I certainly never imagined that I would work my way up at my store to then join the team at the Home Office that’s changing the way we schedule nationwide. That’s what I love about this company. I know that Walmart is continually working to make things better for both customers and associates, and I’m proud to be part of the team that’s making that happen.

Learn more about what Walmart is doing to provide new opportunities for associates at