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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Walmart says hourly workers in U.S. now eligible for bonuses

    Hundreds of thousands of hourly Walmart workers are now eligible for bonuses — a change that could mean as much as $1,000 a year for the retail giant’s full- and part-time associates in the United States.

    The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain made the announcement Wednesday just ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting. It also unveiled a training initiative for associates meant to open new career paths with higher earning potential, including facilities maintenance and HVAC technician.

    The moves come as retailers battle to retain workers in a competitive job market. The chain had already boosted its managers’ compensation, raising the annual average salary from $117,000 to $128,000 and recalibrating bonuses to top out at 200 percent of those earnings, depending on store performance.

    Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said the new bonus program could help with retention and recruitment.

    “This is a big move from Walmart, which is allowing more people in the business to share in success,” he said. “The new bonuses may not address all the complaints about employee compensation, but they do blunt them somewhat.”

    Walmart posted $648.1 billion in revenue in fiscal 2024, up 6 percent year over year. It has a market cap of nearly $537 billion, according to MarketWatch.

    The new initiative rewards store performance and tenure and affects approximately 700,000 workers. “The longer an hourly store associate stays with the company, the higher their bonus potential,” the company said.

    For example, a full-time associate who has been with Walmart for a year could earn a bonus of as much as $350, and an employee with a tenure of more than 20 years could earn up to $1,000, a company spokesman said.

    Walmart had 1.6 million associates at the end of fiscal 2024, making it the nation’s largest employer, and it currently operates more than 4,600 U.S. stores. The company raised its minimum wage last year to $14 an hour, bringing the median associate’s total compensation to $27,642, according to its 2024 proxy report. By comparison, Target has had a “starting wage range” of $15 to $24 since 2022, and the median team member salary was $26,696 in 2023, according to its latest proxy report.

    Both fall below the average living wage for a family of four, which in 2022 was $25.02 per hour, according to MIT’s living wage calculator.

    “Over the past five years, we’ve increased hourly wages by around 30 percent, bringing our U.S. average hourly wage to close to $18,” the company said in the news release. “But it’s not just about pay. We’ve also invested in centers of excellence for health care, family building and adoption benefits and many other resources for mind and body.”

    The company said its new programs are focused on advancing associates’ long-term earning potential. The technician pipeline program, which will be piloted in with 100 associates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, will train them in jobs where there is a shortage of skilled trade workers. The jobs, where pay ranges from $19 to $45 an hour, include facilities maintenance, refrigeration and HVAC, and reliability and automation technician roles. Employees are not required to commit to a job at Walmart after completing the program, a spokesman said.

    Walmart also offers more than 50 skills certificates, which take on average four months to complete, to help usher them into higher-paid positions like pharmacy technicians, opticians and software engineers.

    “Our goal is to fast-track front-line associates into approximately 100,000 jobs that are higher-paying and in-demand for our business over the next three years,” the company said.

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