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Walmart gives employees more control over schedules

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new app is making it easier for Walmart to pick up extra hours while still maintaining a work-life balance.

The discount giant announced on Tuesday that a new mobile scheduling app will be available to all store associates nationwide by the end of November. Called My Walmart Schedule, the new system is designed provide associates with more predictability and flexibility to manage family life – and work life, the company said. The app was introduced in a 500-store pilot in the spring.

The app allows associates to view schedules, swap shifts with other employees and pick up extra, unfilled shifts. In addition to enabling employees to create schedules that work for them, the app also gives associates more control of their time, and allows them to make adjustments quickly when plans change, according to a blog on Walmart’s website.

First, the new app supports employee scheduling consistency with a method called “core hours.” An associate with a core-hour schedule will work the same weekly shifts for at least 13 weeks, giving that associate the ability to plan his or her life around work. Associates in nearly 2,000 stores are on a core-hour schedule. The rest of the company’s stores will have the option by early next year.

The app also gives associates more flexibility when choosing shifts. When the new system develops a schedule, it creates a variety of shifts based on associates’ availability, and when customers will be in the store. The result is a schedule that works for customers and for associates, and eliminates long planning hours for managers.

Finally, it enables associates to pick up extra shifts — including those available in other store departments. Once associates are trained in a certain skill, they can simply go into the app and pick up shifts. In stores where the new system was tested, associates reported that they enjoyed learning different parts of the store, the blog said.

“Managers say this new simplified approach has saved them a ton of time – as many as eight hours per week, in fact, allowing them to spend more time on the sales floor with their associates and customers,” Matt Smith, Walmart Corporate Affairs, said in the blog.

By giving employees more control over their schedules, Walmart is also upping the stakes when it comes to have more engaged associates available to deliver better in-store service.

“Walmart’s scheduling initiative is a promising sign that the retail industry is understanding the role that associates play in increasing sales, customer loyalty and overall in-store satisfaction,” said Adam Silverman, senior VP marketing, Theatro.

“With improved communication and organization among associates on the salesfloor, employees are more efficient and can assure that any shopper in the store is served in a timely matter,” he added. “Additionally, with solutions similar to the one Walmart introduced, associates can take pride in knowing that their employer is investing in creating an empowered workforce.”

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Walmart to give hiring preference to a new group

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is putting a different type of focus on its military hiring.

The discount giant on Monday announced it will give hiring preference to military spouses, becoming the largest U.S. company to make such a commitment. The new initiative to recruit and hire military spouses is called the Military Spouse Career Connection. It complements Walmart’s 2013 Veterans Welcome Home commitment, enhanced in 2015, to hire 250,000 military veterans by 2020. Walmart said it is on track to surpass its goal next year.

“Military spouses are unsung heroes,” said Walmart president and CEO, Doug McMillon, on Monday during a Veterans Day ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville. “They serve in partnership with their uniformed spouses, and we want to honor them and help them find a job or build an amazing career. To military spouses: You’ve got a home at Walmart!”

There are more than 500,000 active duty military spouses nationwide, according to Walmart. While the U.S. jobless rate hovers at 4% nationally, military spouses face a 26% unemployment rate and a 25% wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts. A full 77% of these spouses want or need work, yet frequent relocation is often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career, according to the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

Through the Military Family Promise, Walmart has long offered military spouses and veterans the ability to transfer from one Walmart or Sam’s Club location to another when a spouse is transferred because of the military. The new program takes the company’s commitment one step further by offering any military spouse with a current Uniformed Services Identification Card hiring preference when they apply for a job with the company beginning on November 12, 2018. All candidates must meet the standard hiring criteria.

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Mobile payments still stuck in neutral

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers love using their smartphones when shopping — with one big exception.

A new study by GfK shows that the adoption of mobile payments in the U.S. – and globally – remains low. Just 17% of U.S. consumers have used their smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to pay for a product (including payments via services like PayPal and Venmo) in the past six months. This compares to 29% in the Asia Pacific region, and the global average of 19%.

However, payments via mobile may pick up going forward. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. consumers said they “look forward to … pay[ing] for more and more transactions” via mobile devices – almost double the 2017 level of 17%.

In other findings, the new FutureBuy report from GkK revealed that 45% of all U.S. consumers believe that their smartphones and/or tablets are “quickly becoming [their] most important” shopping tools. That’s higher than the 2017 level of 29%) – a leap of roughly one-third in just one year.

The number-one use of smartphones during the shopping process is comparing prices, cited by 36% of mobile shoppers. Other common smartphone tasks include gathering product information (30%) and checking product reviews (30%

“The desire or need to shop is often spontaneous, and most consumers have their smartphones nearby at all times,” said Joe Beier, executive VP of consumer insights at GfK. “So it is no surprise that mobile technology is playing a growing – and increasingly complex – role in shopper journeys. While shopping online overall is driven largely by a search for savings, the mobile component is often about research on-the-go. And we should not see traditional retail as somehow pitted against the mobile element; often they work together – and those who can deliver a seamless experience will be more likely to capture the sale.”

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