What will going to mostly full-time staff mean for Walmart’s stores?

Photo: Walmart
Apr 15, 2021

Walmart says it expects that by the end of the year two-thirds of the hourly associates working in its stores will be employed by the retailer on a full-time basis with consistent week to week schedules.

Drew Holler, senior vice president, Walmart U.S. People Operations, on a company blog, writes that the decision to focus on providing full-time employment will provide a means for stores to recruit strong candidates for careers with the company. It is also a reflection of demands placed on the retailer’s business at this point in its history.

The executive posits that Walmart is “uniquely positioned to offer a combination of stability and room for growth that few others can match.” He added that providing workers with consistent shift schedules and skills training enables associates to pursue careers with the chain rather than just filling jobs.

Mr. Holler points to the changing nature of store operations that continue in their traditional role of serving customers but increasingly act as fulfillment centers for online orders, as well.

“We are following the full-time staffing approach that has been successful in our distribution centers and fulfillment centers, where more than 80 percent of our current associates are full-time,” Mr. Holler writes.

The move to full-timers is not a recent decision, according to Mr. Holler.

“We were on this journey well before the pandemic began. In 2016, about 53 percent of our U.S. hourly store workforce held full-time positions. Reaching the two-thirds mark by the end of the year means we will have approximately 100,000 more full-time positions than we did five years ago — representing meaningful investments in our associates’ pay, hours and stability.”

Walmart’s scheduling is also intended to develop strong internal teams — small groups of eight to 12 associates and team leaders working together on a consistent basis. Associates are cross-trained within their departments to provide better support for one another.

The latest move by Walmart follows others it has made to burnish its image as an employer. Last month, the retailer increased wages for 425,000 associates who stock shelves and fulfill orders. The pay raises will range between $13 and $19 an hour, lifting the average paid to store associates above $15 an hour. Walmart did say that it will eliminate quarterly bonuses for these workers after the first quarter.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Walmart’s emphasis on full-time employment for store associates with consistent week to week schedules significantly boost its recruitment and retention efforts? What will this mean for other retail store operators?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"This move is absolutely a meaningful competitive weapon in the marketplace."
"Walmart has made a bold choice that breaks new ground for retail. What will be interesting to see is if/how other retailers respond."
"Even if part-time was a permanent position, there is a message in full-time that says you belong here, we want YOU..."

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20 Comments on "What will going to mostly full-time staff mean for Walmart’s stores?"

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Mark Ryski

This is a brilliant move by Walmart. Raising hourly wages is only helpful if staff can get hours, and converting part-timers into full-time will make a significant difference for these employees. Not only will it help with recruitment and retention, but I believe the impact will also be reflected in business results, sales and customer experience – happy employees deliver better service. No doubt other major employers will be watching this carefully, and it could be the start of something really great for retail employees.

Bob Phibbs

Another reason Walmart leads the way. Full-time employees build brands. When you build people, you build brands. I love the way they are going against the part-time drive to minimize the frontline. Others should follow suit.

Suresh Chaganti

Having a full-time position with benefits and a career trajectory definitely is more motivating to the associates. It will send the right signals and promote the right behaviors. From a business standpoint, it will mean more consistency in hiring practices and criteria.

For a company of Walmart’s size, some level of contingent staffing based on seasonality is to be expected. But a great commitment in the right direction.

Jennifer Bartashus

Increasing the number of full-time workers should be a positive for Walmart. It could ultimately reduce costs while bolstering service levels, creating a better experience across the board for consumers. It should also help drive innovation and creativity from the ground level that can improve the organization, with employees more vested in improving operations. And it will also help extricate Walmart from being a headliner in minimum wage discussions and comparisons and get ahead of the ongoing changes at local, state and potentially federal levels. Between this move and Jeff Bezos calling out the need for a new vision for employee success at Amazon in his letter to shareholders, other retailers should expect that the employment landscape will continue to change and be prepared to respond with their own strategies that meet not only financial operating needs but those of employees as well.

Bob Amster

A great move to provide continuity for the brand, and raise the overall wages for employees. However, there is a place for part-time labor, even if in reduced numbers. There are certain tasks and time-of-day that don’t require full-time labor and there is labor that wants to only work part time.

Jeff Sward

This move is absolutely a meaningful competitive weapon in the marketplace. Full time + a living wage + career growth opportunity is a big deal. Entry level retail offers the opportunity to grow within the organization. And Walmart would be a pretty exciting place to experience that growth in the coming years.

Gary Sankary

This is a game changing move for Walmart. A full time employee, with reliable hours and a stable schedule is very likely to feel more valued and have a stronger sense of connection to the company. At the least they aren’t distracted by having to scramble to make up hours, or over concerns about how to balance their personal lives. That team member is going to be happier on the job, which I guarantee customers and Walmart will notice through better service and more consistent job performance.

Gene Detroyer

Remember how Walmart used to be criticized for the way it treated employees? That has long passed.

This move promotes not only better recruitment and better retention, but better operations. Better trained people, more teamwork, more appreciation for the job. Even if part-time was a permanent position, there is a message in full-time that says you belong here, we want YOU — and that carries benefits beyond what can be measured analytically.

Scott Norris

For the communities Walmart serves and sources its labor from, I’m hopeful these moves will also reduce the dependence on food stamps and other supplemental assistance, as well. If we can see the two-fer of improved local sales and income tax revenue while reducing support outlays, that will earn a lot of goodwill in city councils and county planning boards.

Paula Rosenblum

I love when companies put their money where their mouths are. What Walmart is doing is very, very revolutionary. The entire store model for the past 100 years is built on payroll for a part-time transient workforce, so that the retailer doesn’t have to pay fringe benefits or give raises.

Walmart’s decision to go more full-time flips this model on its head. Why it matters is it can demonstrate to other retailers how it can be done and remain profitable. And it demonstrates that it really DOES believe employees make a difference in stores. The industry needs this. I’m really fascinated by the leadership!

DeAnn Campbell

When employees are true brand advocates it shows, and customers respond with loyalty and sales. I respect this move because it puts Walmart in a position of accountability. Full-time employees add the responsibility of better working conditions – work/life balance, paid health care, 401Ks. Otherwise turnover is high and their costs go through the roof. This is a bold move that is very much on brand with their new tag line of “Live Better.”

Venky Ramesh

I have been shopping at my local Costco for over five years now, and I have hardly seen new faces. The employees always seem knowledgeable, happy, and eager to help. I am sure that by being able to keep their employees longer, they are able to derive higher productivity per employee and keep their costs low. Especially with the rise of online grocery, Walmart needs fewer employees in their stores than ever before – so it makes sense for them to retain them longer and pay them higher while still keeping costs low through higher productivity.


Consistency and regularity of communication is going to help steady the teams and give consumers a sense of quality. We see this from all sorts of customers that have steady rock solid staff. As we come out of the pandemic, this will help with being able to tackle unanticipated problems that come with surging store traffic and increasing consumer demands.

A good example of this is Costco – they’ve been quite legendary about being loyal to staff and because of this, they have loyal staff that have been around for years, all well trained, and focused on driving a wonderful experience in-store.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Bravo! This turns a job into a career for employees, allows Walmart to invest in cross-training and raises efficiency and service levels.

Jeff Weidauer

Walmart has made a bold choice that breaks new ground for retail. What will be interesting to see is if/how other retailers respond.

Shep Hyken

Having more full-time employees will reduce costly hiring and training practices. Offering full-time with benefits will reduce churn. Hiring for retail is changing. The full-time career is appealing to many and will help create some HR consistencies and efficiencies for Walmart. Furthermore, moving part-time employees to full-time employees is the difference between a job and a career. Employees will be more engaged.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Terrific decision by Walmart to elevate the role of its in-store staff. Not only does it provide the noted recruitment and retention benefits, it offers the possibility of enhanced customer service experiences.

This should be a new paradigm for other retailers: making a full time commitment to front-liners. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Peter Smith
1 year 9 months ago

A very positive move by a company not revered for its human relations. Let’s hope the Bentonville winds blow towards Seattle.

Craig Sundstrom

And what is it now? (The press release provides the answer: 53% … so it’s not much of a change.) The more interesting issue, methinks, is whether this is coming about from converting part timers to full timers, or rather from eliminating their positions (i.e. a larger fraction of a smaller total); based on the numbers provided, it sounds like it’s mostly the former but in the long run, I have to think it will be the latter, as automation and technology continue to take a toll on low skilled jobs … even at Walmart.

Rachelle King

Generally speaking, a full-time gig is often better than a part-time gig, especially when benefits are on the line. So, yes, this will help with both recruitment and retention (provided Walmart delivers on full-time benefits as well). It may also serve to boost store operating efficiencies and even loyalty. For associates holding down two part-time jobs, being able to switch to one full-time job may also improve work/life balance.

All roads point to a good deal for store associates. However, Walmart is nothing if not efficient. The cost of this good deed is coming from somewhere. If I’m a peer retail store operator, I’d focus on trying to understand that first.

"This move is absolutely a meaningful competitive weapon in the marketplace."
"Walmart has made a bold choice that breaks new ground for retail. What will be interesting to see is if/how other retailers respond."
"Even if part-time was a permanent position, there is a message in full-time that says you belong here, we want YOU..."

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