Walmart (WMT) is shortening a training program that new store workers must finish before they can get a raise, part of its longer term efforts to lower turnover and improve in-store service .
The retailer, which two years ago raised its starting wage for store workers ti $9 per hour as part of a $2.7 billion program, is shortening the training required to get to an hourly wage of $10 to three months from six, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing interviews with Wal-Mart Stores executives. Company spokespersons did not immediately respond to a request from Fortune for comment.
Walmart reported its eighth straight quarter of U.S. comparable sales in November, an improvement it has said comes from more engaged workers it is having to pay more in a tighter labor market. What’s more, employee turnover is about 60% in retail, where it is traditionally high compared to other sectors and rising as workers have more choices, and large chains want to reduce that, lest they have to spend a fortune training new employees over and over.
As part of its compensation overhaul, Walmart last year began giving most store employees their raises on the same day, rather than on their hire-date anniversary. The Journal said. that employees hired on or before Oct. 31, 2016 will get a 2% raise on Feb. 18th, while longtime employees who are maxed out in how much their job description allows them to make will get a onetime lump sum of 2% of their annual pay.
According to the Journal article, Walmart’s average salary is $13.69 per hour, or about $25,000 a year for a full-time employee, a group that accounts for about half of its store staff. Still, many advocates are pushing Walmart to raise its starting hourly wage to $15.
Earlier this month, Walmart, the National Retail Federation and other major retailers announced a new credentialing system that would recognize specific training given to retail workers regardless of which chain they work at. The idea is to foster the feeling that working in retail can be a career and not a dead-end job.
The shortening of Walmart’s new hire program stems from “listen sessions” across the U.S. conducted by COO Judith McKenna.