Why do 1.4 millions Americans work for Walmart?

A hiring center for a new Walmart is where one gets to see a thousand dreams converge to become a Walmart associate, and a lot of them already have jobs. LaShawn Rosss, 29, worked with McDonald’s and Winn-Dixie before taking up a job at Walmart in Pinellas Park, Florida. Ross couldn’t have put the sentiments of the many applicants more rightly when she says, “They are huge, so I know there is a huge amount of opportunity.”


But there are critics also and in Walmart’s case it comes in the form of Activists, Policymakers and Pundits who suggests that people be rather outraged given the wages Walmart pays. Some of them have even called for a protest on Black Friday.


Robert Reich who is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at U.C. Berkely says, “Walmart can easily afford to pay $15 an hour,” thereby urging shoppers to boycott Walmart on the most important sales day of the year; November 29th. Vincent Orange; a D.C. city councilman says, “Their net income was $17 Billion,” He has voted to force Walmart to pay a minimum wage of $112.50 per hour in the nation’s capital. He has also gone on to say, “You don’t want to share a little bit with the citizens? Come on.” Then there is Our Walmart—a union backed activist group—accusing the company of showing disrespect to its employees as it supposedly doesn’t pay the living wages.


All these accusations are a li’l difficult to swallow since no one is forced to work at Walmart. One can always seek employment elsewhere. If 1.4 million American choose to work at Walmart; there must be something right about the place, isn’t it?


All that entry-level employees have to do at Walmart are: Stock shelves, work at cash registers and change price labels. And for this Walmart pays competitive wages—i.e. $12 per hour—especially since these positions involves no work experiences or technical skills. However, these jobs provides employees the initial work experience that is needed to climb the corporate hierarchy.


But there’s nothing to stop the critics from shouting out loud that Walmart is holding its employees down when in reality, Walmart provides a conducive environment for growth and development. For instance, trends show that three out of four managers at Walmart started out as hourly associates and they now command up to $170,000 in a year.

Patricia Curran should be a feather in Walmart’s Cap; she started out at the bottom in Walmart and has worked her way up to being named one of the 50 most powerful women in 2006 by Fortune magazine. They also send associates for training courses with fully–paid work hours and then offer raises to the same employees if they complete those courses. No wonder tens of thousands of people apply for 300 available jobs every time a new Walmart store comes up.


Walmart ensures that pay, opportunities and perks it offers; also serves its own long-term goals for growth and profitability. It sees training and development as good business since it believes such programs can motivate employees and bring in managers with extensive firsthand knowledge on store operations. Therefore; it only makes business sense to the company in paying wages, it does, to maintain and grow a happy Walmart Family.


Now the thorn on the critic’s side is that Walmart will not offer higher wages and benefits if it sees that to be bad business. The critics want all employees to be paid at least $12-$15 by the hour; irrespective of his role; whether or not he has the skills to justify his wage; regardless of whether he is productive or not; even when others are willing to do the same job for less; even if it turns out be to be a bad business decision. Basically, the critics wants Walmart to turn a blind eye to reality and submit to their non-sense.


Walmart and its employees share a win-win relationship. The company is happy with what it pays and the employees are happy with what they are paid. And you will find thousands of success stories within the organization. So all these attacks on Walmart would probably be easy even for a child to contemplate.