Walmart and Employee Relations Essay

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The organization that I chose for this project is Walmart where I am employed as a cashier. The focus of the project is employee relations. Walmart is an American public multinational corporation that has a large chain of discount department stores and warehouses. In 2010, the company was the worlds largest public corporation by revenue. Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. Walmart is headquartered in Bentonville Arkansas and is the largest employer and grocery retailer in the United States.

In 2009, it generated 51% of its $ 258 billion sales in the U. S. from the grocery business. The company also owns and operates the Sams Club retail warehouses in North America. Walmart has stores in Puerto Rico, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and India. Walmart has faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues regarding its workforce. These issues involve low wages, poor working conditions and inadequate health care, as well as strong anti-union policies. The companys high employee turnover rate is seen as evidence of an unhappy workforce.

Approximately 70% of its employees leave within the first year. On average, full time hourly associates earn $10/hr or less than $ 17,874 per year which is about twenty percent less than the retail worker makes. Walmart managers are judged , in part, on their ability to control payroll costs. The company also faced employee poor working conditions where they were forced to work off the clock, were denied overtime pay or were not allowed to take rest or lunch breaks . A lawsuit ensued because of these conditions and Walmart paid $50 million to settle.

Ethics problems occurred because of Walmarts refusal to promote women to management positions. High employee turnover is due to low employee morale and the ever increasing workload. Outside of the corporation Walmart has a negative reputation which it has used the media and advertising to try to rebuild it. The company has been involved in many lawsuits over the years and has spent millions of dollars to resolve them. In the store where I work, management does not follow company policy when dealing with employees thereby further alienating employees. Employees feel they are not respected or appreciated.

Employees tend to go their own way and do their own thing and this in turn affects productivity. Problem Statement The problem is miscommunication or no communication for problem identification that employees may face. Because Walmart is not unionized, employees have no place to turn to for problem resolution. The employees and management need to come together to discuss these issues in a meaningful way and resolve these problems. The question is how to bring these two opposing factions together for problem resolution and what recommendations should be made and implemented?

The company employs a mechanistic structure with strict rules and policies. Working for this company as a cashier, I have found that management doesnt always follow these policies, but tend to makeup their own rules according to the situation. This in turn, gives lower level employees the perception of unfair practices when dealing with management. Productivity and morale are low and unhappiness permeates the organization. Management is uncaring and ever vigilant to make sure that employees are performing their jobs. Literature Review

Wal-Mart could improve handling of its engagement with communities and officials with more flexibility and a keener ear for local concerns, i. e. It could take the bold step of revising its wage scale, consider more flexibility in its store design, and communicate early and often with communities it wants to be in, develop a strategic alliances and workable partnerships with the community local businesses. Wal-Mart experiences in communities whereby the company was welcomed and cooperation worked for both parties should serve as a lesson for future interactions.

Being a part of the greater societal system, which is interactive and dynamic in nature. Wal-Mart planners should understand the process of change in their organization and in the society at large, understand the companys original organizing principle and its evolution over time, and understand the changes that have taken place in society, the market place, and the retailing industry. Today and in the future, senior corporate executives must lead by taking the initiative to enhance relationships that benefit all stakeholders.

This action is not possible when management is preoccupied with controlling or manipulating these groups; leadership by the traditional industrial age methods of wielding power and exercising brute force does not enhance relationships. Therefore such behavior should be reconsidered despite that most of the times it is considered legal and directed by the premises and forces of free economy and pure competition. So, what can Wal-Mart do? Take good care of employees: By motivating, inspiring, and taking care of employees, customers will be well served.

Somehow in the exigencies of business, especially big business as Wal-Mart, this emphasis on people tends to be put aside. It should not be forgotten that employees partnering for success was one of founders key principles. Wal-Mart has successfully promoted its store openings as a benefit to communities by providing both low prices for everyone and hundreds of jobs to workers, however people are now aware that not all jobs are created equal, and Wal-Mart is a clear symbol of jobs that dont help people sustain their families.

True or only a perception, Wal-Mart management should attend to this issue effectively. If an individual is not inspired by their job, if they are not challenged, or if they feel they lack the opportunity to be innovative there is little pleasure in their work. If there is little pleasure in the work the individual will not be happy, and if they are not happy they will show little enthusiasm for the task at hand, and certainly no motivation to improve on their performance.

In these situations the individuals will do the job, collect the reward and return to their life at the end of the day. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic organization encouraged this behavior. But when the individual finds their work interesting, inspiring and trusts those around them, work becomes pleasant. There is a high level of commitment to the task and the individual assumes personal responsibility for the work undertaken. Rules and KPIs become irrelevant. The individual is focused on every detail to ensure their task is performed to perfection.

One of the most critical things that you have to do is to develop an attitude which is analytical and clinical. We keep a lot of statistics to help us look closely at everything that happens ¦ This enables players to look behind the result. They can be honest in a way that is not threatening. It is all about improving, If you improve yourself you will beat the opposition. We actually dont go out there to win, we go out to play well, and winning is a by-product of that. The focus is on how we play, rather than the outcome.

The balanced scorecard was developed as in integrated management information system to provide such data. Correctly constructed, such a tool can provide all members of the organization with the information they require to assess their performance and to seek improvement. Scorecards are only dangerous when they are used to set targets for individuals to attain and thus modify behavior to ensure the target is met. Excerpted From: Organizations which make a difference: A philosophical argument for the people focused organization, Weymes, Ed, (2005).

The natural curiosity, inherent in every human being, fueled with relevant information and a desire to exceed personal best will ensure an environment where continual improvement and game breaking ideas flourish, Creativity and innovation are considered to be the key competitive advantage for organizations in todays knowledge society and, thus, it is imperative that all organizations create an environment that encourages new approaches. Excerpted From: Wal-Mart and the trap of success:An organizational ecology perspective,Rizkallah, E. G. , & Razzouk, (2007).

Bethany Moretons thought-provoking essay, which follows Strassers, ironically shows how Wal-Mart, todays modern-day pulpo (Spanish for octopus) with tentacles that extend all over the U. S. and world economy, spatially emerged where populism and the antichain movement was quite strong hi the 188Os and 1920s. She provocatively contends that two groups that are part of todays antichain movement around Wal-Mart-the Nation magazine and grocery worker unions actually supported chain stores, and hence paved the way for Wal-Marts growth, because they were seen as more efficient and labor-friendly than small independent stores.

She later claims that Wal-Mart overcame regional hostilities towards corporate-owned chain stores through framing company founder Sam Walton as Mr. Everyman-a small-town, patriotic farmer who treated everyone like family. Wal-Mart also minimized populist concerns about sales positions in chain stores emasculating men by creating a gendered division of labor that made management positions virtually off-limits to women, a practice that came back to haunt the company with a massive class-action discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 1. million women in 2001. Brad Seligman, the lead counsel for the case (Dukes v. WaIMart), discusses Wal-Marts egregious hiring and promotion practices in the latter half of the book. He includes revealing quotes from the plaintiffs and numerous statistics that show how pervasive patriarchy is within the company. Gender-based discrimination continued for years because these sexist practices helped keep costs low and profits high.

James Hoopes claims that Wal-Mart further reduced costs through information technologies that centralized decision making in the companys headquarters, located in Bentonville, Arkansas. Hoopes suggests that the visible hand of the workers immediate supervisor is declining as company officials from afar decide, for example, when employees take breaks and what the stores temperature will be. Thomas Adams and Ellen Rosen, hi contrast, maintain that this visible hand is still quite apparent because store managers must keep costs low.

This means having employees work unpaid overtime, shaming associates for making mistakes, and criticizing them for stealing time. Rosen calls these practices management by intimidation while Adams describes them as shop floor totalitarianism. Excerpted from: Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism, Armbruster-Sandoval,Ralph, (Jan 2006). Wal-Marts strict labor-relations policies have served the company quite well. Very few workers have ever tried to form a union and when they have in the U. S. and Canada, those efforts have been squashed.

Wal-Mart workers, ronically, around the world are unionized in Germany, Mexico, and China even though independent unions do not represent its employees in the latter two countries. Chris Tilly, in his piece on Wal-Mart in Mexico, does not thoroughly address unionization issues, but he does show how that countrys culture of consumption and the widening gap between the rich and poor have limited the companys growth. Economic inequality, exacerbated by neoliberal reforms, has also undercut Wal-Marts performance in Brazil and Argentina over the last few years (Daniel, T. 2003).

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