Wal-Mart labor protestors made their impression on millions of people across America this past week. The nation now knows that the big box retailer skimps on raises, healthcare, and has inconsistent work schedules.
However, protestor efforts did not deter massive crowds of shoppers that ripped apart display cases to claim a television, phone, or computer at the Black Friday sales event beginning Nov. 22.
VIDEO: Wal-Mart Black Friday shoppers fight over merchandise
Viewers have been divided on the labor protest and half of them felt that Wal-Mart entry level jobs aren’t supposed to be a career. They pose questions such as “Just how much should any retailer pay for an entry level worker who won’t climb to higher positions within the corporation because of reasons that pertain to that individual?”
The other half of viewers felt that the major employer should be capable of negotiating cut-rate insurance plans and paying their employees at least $13 per hour, a reasonable sum for a laborious entry level job.
VIDEO: Wal-Mart Black Friday shoppers fight over X-Box
Wal-Mart was savvy enough to negotiate cell phone deals offering to the public a service that caused major carriers to reduce their prices or go out of business. It brings to question why Wal-Mart hasn’t swung a deal with mini-medical clinics like Target, and CVS has and stationed a clinic on their own property for basic medical care open to the public and for their employees. Wal-Mart could even pay the cost of such services at these clinics since the fee is so low.
Wal-Mart advertises that they have joined other big box retailers such as Lowes Home Improvement stores to provide free heart and spine surgeries. This is very valuable to employees and their family members that need such services. However, most people need basic medical care to fix minor injuries such as broken bones, painful joints, and address illnesses and these services are only available through costly medical insurance.
VIDEO: Wal-Mart Black Friday shoppers fight over a toy car
Medical insurance premiums are $400 for a single person, and $1,200 for a family. 98% of Wal-Mart employees don’t earn $400 a week. According to Paycheck City.com after taxes, Social Security, Medicare their take-home pay is around $295 per week if they work 40-hours and most Wal-Mart workers are scheduled less than that.
According to employees there are wage differences from store to store. The pay is dependent on the location and gross sales of the store. Workers in Oregon may be paid more than lateral positions in Arkansas.
VIDEO: Wal-Mart Black Friday rips apart displays to get merchandise
When you visit a Wal-Mart store it appears that they have a large volume of employees standing around compared to Target stores. It may be due to the fact that Wal-Mart can afford to over-staff their stores because of low wages and government incentives for hiring disabled persons and those receiving subsidies.
If Wal-Mart wanted to continue to pay workers a low base pay they could offer real incentives for productivity or sales volume. Wal-Mart hasn’t needed much help selling their products but it could boost revenue is they taught their people to promote items in their department. If they made each person assigned to a department responsible for sales volume and paid them bonuses each week that might make the big box retailer and the employee feel better about sharing the profits.
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Productivity for employees could be increased too by simply allowing employees to be paid more for achieving certain re-stocking timelines. The only problem is that often greedy employers raise the bar to unachievable levels so that employees work harder and get paid less than promised.
There are win-win situations that can happen at Wal-Mart and other businesses that are missing the mark when it comes to employees that sell products.
Take for instance high volume restaurants where the waiter asks if the customer wants additional items to accompany his meal experience. There are many restaurants however, where waitstaff fail to up-sell their customer resulting lower shift sales. At a restaurant one waitress can sell $1,000 of food in an hour versus her competitor who sells $4,000.
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Most customers don’t want someone following them around the store like a used car salesman, it does feel nice to have an expert in the area for fast advice. Maybe ancillary staff should be re-titled to fit their expertise. Maybe produce staff could become experts in spicing up food, or cooking and have a title that invites questions such as Meal Specialist.
Likewise why shouldn’t fashion sales workers be re-titled Fashion Stylist that way people feel the employee has some level of knowledge as to what looks acceptable and it would invite a conversation based on sales. Any worker could sell ten times more product if they were perceived as an expert. A customer buying a pair of jeans, could turn into a complete outfit.
Wal-Mart employees have advertised to the public that they are underpaid and the general public isn’t surprised. However, it would be in the best of Wal-Mart’s interest to develop a win-win solution.
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Hopefully, employees will also learn a lesson here as well. If an employee wants to achieve higher pay, they have to achieve higher educational goals. That is the same bar to which everyone else is measured in all fields of expertise. It is a harder and more expensive route than working through the ranks at a single employer. Nursing as an example is an 18-month course and wages are about $36 per hour. Not shabby for an 18-month investment.
Here are the pay scales for Wal-Mart employees:
Wal-mart has levels of pay from 1-7.
- Level 1: $8.00 – Cart pushers, People Greeters, Fitting Room Associates
- Level 2: $8.20 – Maintenance Associates
- Level 3: $8.40 – Cashiers, In-stock Associates
- Level 4: $8.60 – Sales Associates
- Level 5: Reserved
- Level 6: $9.30 – CSM/CSS, Merchandise Supervisor and Department Manager, Personnel
- Level 7: $9.70 – Asset Protection Agent
- Assistant MGR – $40-45,000 plus bonus
- Co-Manager: $72-75,000 plus bonus
- Store Manager: $95-110,000 plus bonus, depending on store gross sales.
“Employees get a 90-day evaluation with no raise. Then an annual evaluation which ranges from 40 to 60 cents depending on the individuals work ethic” says a previous store manger who wants to remain anonymous.