Walmart’s HRM: Training, Performance Management

Walmart human resource management, employee training, performance management, planning, needs analysis, measurement, standards, retail business workforce
A Walmart store in Mexico City, Mexico. Walmart’s human resource management addresses employee training and performance management to enhance HR capacity, effectiveness, and efficiency. (Photo: Public Domain)

Walmart’s employee training and performance management are determinants of the company’s human resource management capability in supporting global expansion. As the company expands, so do its HR needs for specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for a truly global workforce. Walmart’s training programs are designed to ensure effectiveness in handling daily job tasks, and capacity to adjust to emergent conditions in the retail industry. The firm’s human resource management goals include cost-effective high-performance training to maximize employee productivity. These training programs and performance management efforts address some of Walmart’s performance problems and challenges in human resource management.

This article is part of a series on Walmart’s human resource management:

  1. Walmart’s HRM: HR Planning, Job Analysis & Design
  2. Walmart’s HRM: Recruitment, Selection, Employee Retention
  3. Walmart’s HRM: Training, Performance Management
  4. Walmart’s HRM: Compensation, Career Development

Employee Training at Walmart

Needs Analysis. There are several types of training needs analysis available. The applicability of each depends on the human resource management objectives of the organization. In Walmart’s case, the following types of training needs analysis apply:

  1. Work/task analysis
  2. Cost-benefit analysis
  3. Organizational analysis

Work analysis is typically used for understanding specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required to fulfill jobs. For this purpose, Walmart’s human resource management applies work/task analysis as the main type of training needs analysis for most positions in the organization. For example, work analysis is used to identify specific task requirements for certain sales personnel and supervisors. In addition, Walmart uses cost-benefit analysis to optimize training and human resource management costs. Cost-benefit analysis helps identify which kind of training programs yields the best results with minimal costs. This needs-analysis method addresses the goal of cost-minimization, which is linked to Walmart’s cost-leadership generic strategy. On the other hand, organizational analysis helps identify new or emerging human resource management concerns that can be integrated in training programs. These concerns include new HR needs for new Walmart stores, new products, or changes in store layouts, among others.

Program Design. Walmart uses two main approaches for training program design. Each approach addresses certain qualities prioritized in different job positions in the organization. The approaches applied at Walmart are as follows:

  1. Results-oriented program design
  2. Process-oriented program design

Results-oriented training program design is the main approach used for designing training programs at Walmart. The retail company’s human resource management goal in using this approach is to satisfy the required knowledge, skills, and abilities for each job. This approach is most important for sales positions in Walmart stores, as well as jobs in the firm’s warehouses. On the other hand, process-oriented training program design addresses the human resource management objective of maintaining the proper performance of standard procedures. This approach is most suited for standardized processes. Walmart uses process-oriented program design for developing training programs for employees involved in inventory and supply chain management.

Delivery. The delivery of training programs depends on the job positions and tasks involved. Walmart delivers its training programs through the following methods:

  1. Discussions
  2. On-the-job training
  3. Coaching

Discussions are the most frequently used in Walmart’s training programs. In discussions, the human resource management objective is to deliver basic knowledge to employees. For example, trainers and trainees discuss details of Walmart’s new strategies and products. The company also usually uses on-the-job training. This method is especially applicable for hourly sales employees, supervisors, and some managerial positions. Walmart’s human resource management objective in using on-the-job training is to deliver first-hand experience in performing tasks specific to the jobs involved. In addition, the company uses coaching mostly for supervisory and managerial positions. Walmart’s senior managers coach newly promoted managers or supervisors to orient them to their new positions. The human resource management objective of using coaching is to pass on personal insights and knowledge from the coaches to the trainees.

Evaluation. Walmart’s summative purpose for evaluating its training programs is to determine training effectiveness to guide human resource management in improving these programs. This purpose applies to all training programs at the retail company. Walmart’s descriptive purpose for evaluating its training programs is to determine changes among the trainees upon completion of the program. This purpose of evaluation applies to all training programs, although the firm emphasizes it more for positions in sales and supply chain operations.

Walmart’s human resource management is result-oriented. As such, the company typically applies the Kirkpatrick Hierarchical Model for evaluating training programs. In this model, Walmart collects information, like reactions and the learning progress of the trainees, as well as changes in behaviors. The retailer evaluates the results of training, such as new knowledge and skills and the rate of learning.

Walmart’s Performance Management Practices

Performance Planning. Walmart’s performance planning is based on three main dimensions that relate to the needs of its retail business:

  1. Customer service orientation
  2. Decision-making and results orientation
  3. Analysis and problem-solving

Walmart uses the customer service orientation to directly address its human resource management concerns in the context of retail. Retail is a service business. Thus, Walmart emphasizes the customer service orientation in performance planning, to ensure that its services satisfy customers. On the other hand, the decision-making and results orientation is applied for all positions, although it is emphasized in planning for managerial and supervisory positions. Walmart’s human resource management objective in using this orientation is to optimize organizational resilience through effective decision-making. Analysis and problem-solving are also used for performance planning, but more so for managerial positions. The retailer expects managers to effectively analyze and solve problems in the workplace. These dimensions are included in the performance appraisals conducted at the company. Walmart’s human resource management considers these dimensions as essential to planning for adequate workforce performance.

Measurements and Standards. The standards applied depend on the type of job and the level or area in Walmart’s business structure (company structure). For instance, the company has productivity standards emphasized for warehouse personnel. Decision-making and financial performance standards are usually emphasized in managerial positions. For frontline sales employees, Walmart’s human resource management puts more emphasis on salesmanship. In contrast, standards for problem-solving and planning have more weight in managerial and supervisory positions.

Performance Problems. Walmart experiences a variety of performance problems. However, some of the most significant are as follows:

  1. Productivity losses because of tardiness and absenteeism
  2. Inaccuracies or errors in recording or reporting
  3. Negativism or hostility in customer relations or workplace relations

Some productivity issues are linked to tardiness or absenteeism, which Walmart may use as grounds for termination. On the other hand, inaccuracies in recording and reporting can lead to bigger problems, such as the bullwhip effect in the supply chain and related aspects of the company. Walmart’s human resource management provides training programs to minimize errors and inaccuracies. The company also adjusts its processes and procedures to address the contributing factors linked to such errors and inaccuracies. In addition, negativism is a frequent human resource management problem in many organizations. At Walmart, negativism leads to lower productivity of sales teams and reduced effectiveness of managerial or supervisory staff. To address this problem, the retail company encourages employees to participate in organizational activities, including social activities. Also, the firm provides benefits and incentives to help reduce negativity in the workplace. Walmart’s human resource management is always on the lookout for other performance problems that can be solved through HR training, compensation, and related approaches.