Walmart: Human Resource Management

Walmart human resource management planning, job analysis, design, recruitment, retention, selection, training, performance, career development, compensation
A Walmart store in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Walmart’s human resource management programs, practices and strategies support the company’s global growth. (Photo: Public Domain)

Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the world in terms of organizational size, business value, and financial performance. However, the firm must ensure that its human resources are supported in satisfying business needs and expectations. Walmart must consider how its activities, such as internal organizational processes, support its human resources. For instance, the company must address its human resource planning and job design, and how these aspects contribute to high performance of employees. Walmart human resource management must also consider how the organizational structure, recruitment and selection, retention and training, performance management, compensation, and career development contribute to the productivity of the firm’s workers.

Walmart’s human resource managers must optimize its human resources, effectively addressing issues and criticisms.

Walmart’s Human Resource Planning

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: HR Planning, Job Analysis & Design) The human resource planning at Walmart is stratified in terms of the programs and solutions developed and used. For instance, human resource planning takes place at the top management level of the corporate human resource department. However, Walmart is a large organization. Each store has its own human resource manager who translates the general human resource plan from the corporate HR department. Thus, Walmart stores have different interpretations of the corporate human resource plan. The variations indicate that actual human resource planning occurs at different levels of Walmart’s organization.

In forecasting, Walmart uses special software products to automate the process of analyzing changes in the workforce. For instance, the firm gets its employee or workforce data from Walmart stores. The data is then fed to the central database, and organized and processed to reveal trends in the company’s human resources. Through this forecasting system, Walmart forecasts possible future changes in the workforce, such as changes per season or per region.

In addressing the surplus or shortage of employees, Walmart uses its information system to determine which areas or aspects of the organization will face increased demand in human resources and which areas will have a surplus. The company’s HR management then implements corresponding workforce plans that stabilize the human resources. The workforce plans specify the number of employees needed and the recommended schedules for increased recruitment.

In balancing supply and demand, Walmart’s goal is to ensure adequate access to qualified workers. The company has a continuous process of hiring and training new employees. This continuous process ensures that vacant positions are immediately filled. The nonstop recruitment activity helps Walmart access an adequate supply of human resources to match changes in demand for employees at its stores.

Job Analysis and Job Design at Walmart

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: HR Planning, Job Analysis & Design) Walmart’s organizational design is centralized and hierarchical, with some level of decentralization. The hierarchical and centralized organizational structure refers to having central corporate headquarters that monitor and direct all activities in the organization. Corporate departments have jurisdiction over all the Walmart stores. Some degree of management decentralization also exists in the company. For example, each Walmart store has its own human resource department. Each store’s HR department has an HR manager to apply corporate HR strategy based on the unique needs of the individual store. This centralized organizational structure combined with partial decentralization is an acceptable concept. Centralization integrates Walmart’s organization so it functions as one entity. Decentralization makes the organization flexible enough to face new or emerging issues in the business.

As a method of job analysis, Walmart uses the matching approach. This method involves interviews and surveys on applicants, employees and supervisors to determine issues and needs. Walmart’s aim is to align actual needs with available human resources, and to determine possible gaps between the two.

Walmart’s job descriptions are highly varied. However, the company’s human resource management develops job descriptions mostly involving activities in sales because majority of the company’s workers are sales personnel. Thus, job descriptions at Walmart include those for sales personnel, sales supervisors, sales managers, and store managers, among others.

Walmart’s job specifications are also highly varied, but most of the specifications require knowledge and skills in sales and marketing. The HR management’s specifications for these jobs generally require at least a degree in sales or related disciplines for the position of sales manager and store manager.

A recommendation for Walmart is to improve its job analysis and job design by implementing more channels of communication. Employees can use these channels to give feedback to managers. This change will benefit Walmart’s human resources through increased employee morale and more accurate job analysis.

Walmart’s Recruitment Strategy

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Recruitment, Selection, Employee Retention) Different sources are used in Walmart’s recruitment strategy. The company has a large organizational size and a diverse workforce. This aspect of the firm’s human resource management has a decentralized system that uses local information as basis for recruitment processes. In relation, the sources of the workers are typically the localities where Walmart stores operate.

Walmart’s methods in its recruitment strategy include online recruitment, direct recruitment at localities, and recruitment through academic institutions. These HR management methods in the recruitment strategy ensure a diversity of applicants. For instance, the online method allows the firm to reach applicants who are not near Walmart stores. Referrals help the company get qualified applicants based on reliable referrers.

A recommendation for Walmart’s recruitment strategy is to improve its recruitment process through new strategies for global competitiveness of human resources. Walmart’s workforce is already locally competitive. This recommendation for global competitiveness of HR should allow the firm to address changes in the global business environment. Such global competitiveness is critical because Walmart is already a global business. Emphasis must include diversity and the ability of employees to deal with diverse populations of customers.

Selection: Steps in the Selection Process at Walmart

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Recruitment, Selection, Employee Retention) The steps in the selection process at Walmart are mainly based on the ability of applicants to handle sales transactions and human resource management tasks. However, the following steps are appropriate to the situation of the company:

Step 1: Background check on the applicant, including educational background, work experience and personal interests. Walmart’s emphasis in this step is on determining the applicant’s potential to satisfy the demands of the job. This means that the applicant should possess the qualities necessary to reach the expected productivity level.

Step 2: Evaluate the applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities. The applicant must possess suitable and adequate knowledge, skills and abilities to fulfill the job position, based on Walmart’s needs and standards.

Step 3: Evaluate the person-organization fit. The applicant’s qualities must match Walmart’s organizational environment. Does the applicant have values similar to the values of firm? Does the applicant have a background that does not go in conflict with the organizational culture? Emphasis should be on a good alignment between the applicant and Walmart’s organization.

Step 4: Determine the applicant’s willingness to work at Walmart. The applicant must be flexible enough to contribute to the firm’s organizational flexibility.

Walmart’s Employee Retention Strategy

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Recruitment, Selection, Employee Retention) Walmart must maximize employee retention to minimize financial loss linked to turnover. Higher turnover leads to higher financial loss, considering HR expenditure for recruitment, selection and training. Employee retention at Walmart is achieved through a combination of approaches. The company’s human resource management uses the following employee retention strategies:

  1. Recognition based on the employee’s performance
  2. Benefits based on the employee’s status or position
  3. Incentives based on the employee’s status or position

Walmart’s Employee Training

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Training, Performance Management) In needs analysis, Walmart determines how jobs fit the employees, and how these jobs fit the business environment. For instance, needs analysis is used to determine if a worker’s needs are satisfied. Walmart’s human resource managers also use needs analysis to check if employees satisfy the firm’s needs and requirements. Store managers conduct needs analyses. The results are relayed to Walmart’s corporate HR at the headquarters, where corporate managers determine the changes and strategies needed in the workforce. A needs analysis at Walmart reveals at least the following information:

  1. The need for diversified human resources in all Walmart locations
  2. The need for a more technologically savvy workforce

The program design for training at Walmart typically focuses on the performance of sales personnel. Online delivery of the training program is included. However, the company’s human resource managers prefer traditional face-to-face training programs to ensure quality of service at Walmart stores.

In the evaluation of effectiveness of training programs, Walmart’s HR management uses sales performance as a criterion. The company also uses feedback from supervisors and employees on sales performance. Customer feedback further adds information that Walmart human resource managers use to evaluate the success of employee training programs.

Performance Management at Walmart

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Training, Performance Management) Performance planning in Walmart’s HR management involves a performance appraisal system. This system provides feedback to employees on their performance levels. The company also gives feedback to employees on how to improve their performance. In addition, the firm uses an HR software product that analyzes individual and team performance levels. As a recommendation, Walmart can use a micro-tailored appraisal system. The features of this system vary based on the employee being appraised. The purpose of these activities is to allow Walmart human resource management to establish job responsibilities, specifications, goals and objectives. The company’s career development plan is also based on performance plans.

Walmart’s corporate objectives are linked to the performance management practices, standards and measures through sales performance. The firm is mainly concerned about maximizing sales revenues. Through its performance management activities, Walmart’s human resource management ensures support for sales performance through employee productivity, especially sales personnel productivity.

Measurements and standards are used to evaluate if Walmart’s human resource performance is satisfactory. For each performance measure, the company has a set of standards. Different HR standards are used for different areas of the business. The following performance measures are used at Walmart:

  1. Effectiveness of processes
  2. Efficiency of processes
  3. Quality of customer service
  4. Timeliness of supply chain activities
  5. Productivity of sales personnel

Performance interviews are used at Walmart to provide more information for appraisals. Performance interviews are conducted at least twice a year, so that the progress of employees is regularly monitored. These performance interviews also allow Walmart’s human resource managers to obtain feedback from employees.

Walmart encounters performance problems like low employee morale and tardiness. These HR problems reduce the firm’s financial performance. Walmart can address low employee morale through job rotation and flexibility, incentives, and recognition for employees’ high performance. The company can address tardiness through motivation strategies and new policies, such as rules imposing a maximum percentage of tardy days per number of workdays.

Career Development at Walmart

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Compensation, Career Development) For career development, Walmart’s human resource management uses its own training programs regularly conducted to increase knowledge, skills and abilities. Training provides the opportunity for employees to improve skills specific to retail business. Also, Walmart supports employees to attend seminars and other programs outside the organization.

Walmart matches individual and organization needs through analysis of person-organization fit. Person-organization fit ensures that employees are aligned to the needs, demands and expectations of the organization. This fit also ensures that the organization is satisfactory to the worker. The person-organization fit is important in HR management because it helps Walmart minimize expenses on recruitment, selection and training of workers who do not fit the company. A higher person-organization fit leads to lower turnover.

Career opportunities and requirements are identified through Walmart’s internal business processes, job positions and expansion plans. When the company expands, more career opportunities are created. Also, anybody pursuing a career at Walmart must satisfy the firm’s job positions and business processes.

Employee potential is assessed at Walmart through a number of ways, including the following HR activities:

  1. Appraisals matched with standards of the organization
  2. Feedback from managers, supervisors and colleagues
  3. Productivity based on records
  4. Individual employment record
  5. Personal interview results

Career development initiatives are instituted at Walmart through human resource managers and supervisors of stores. The HR managers and supervisors implement the initiatives with adjustments to suit the unique conditions of the individual Walmart stores.

Walmart’s Compensation Strategy

(Main article: Walmart’s HRM: Compensation, Career Development) Compensation at Walmart is stratified. Pay is based on the job level relative to the organizational structure. Compensation is also partly based on the worker’s performance. This combination involves pay grades and levels that correspond to different job positions in the company.

The types of individual incentive plans at Walmart include percentages of total sales, and profit sharing for top personnel. The reason for implementing the sales percentages is to encourage sales personnel to perform better. On the other hand, corporate human resource management uses profit sharing to encourage managers to do more to improve the business.

The success of Walmart’s incentive plans is high. Sales performance is the core consideration in the business. The focus of these incentive plans is on sales productivity and performance. Thus, through these incentive plans, the human resource management directly addresses such focus. These plans create significant boost for Walmart’s business performance.

A recommendation for Walmart is to use an incentive plan that gives better incentives for low-ranking employees. Instead of focusing on supervisors and managers, Walmart’s HR management can increase incentives for sales personnel, who are the bottom line and foundation of the business.

Walmart’s incentive pay is focused on supervisors and managers. The company also gives incentives to rank-and-file employees, but to a lesser degree. Thus, incentives tend to have greater effect on managers and supervisors. Walmart can improve this imbalance in human resources by giving equal emphasis on the incentives of managers, supervisors, and rank-and-file employees.

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