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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Strategic CSR - Walmart

The article in the url below caught my eye:
"Walmart announced plans on Wednesday to offer subsidized college tuition for its 1.4 million workers in the United States, joining a growing list of companies that are helping employees pay for higher education as a perk in a tight labor market."
"The giant retailer will pay tuition for its workers to enroll in college courses — online or on campus — to earn degrees in either supply chain management or business, company officials announced at Walmart's annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, Ark."
What with the ever-increasing competition provided by Amazon and the low levels of unemployment in the U.S., Walmart is finding that it has to become a better employer in order to attract and retain the quality of employee that it needs to run its stores/operations. Interestingly, the company is extending the support to both full and part-time workers, and seems to be genuine in wanting their employees to become better qualified:
"Full- and part-time Walmart workers can use the subsidy to take courses at the University of Florida; Brandman University in Irvine, Calif.; and Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. The three universities were chosen because of their high graduation rates, particularly among part-time students, and their experience with those already in the work force, Walmart executives said. The employees will not be obligated to continue working for Walmart after they get their degrees, and must put up only $1 a day toward the cost of classes."
In other words, Walmart has to create more value for one of its key stakeholders, its employees, otherwise they will go elsewhere. As such, Walmart is following the footsteps of some good companies:
"Walmart, the country's largest employer, introduced the tuition subsidy as it seeks ways to retain workers at a time of low unemployment. Employers like Starbucks and Amazon also offer tuition support."
Walmart has also learned from the prior announcements by these companies:
"Walmart said its goal was to help employees obtain a college degree without having to take out loans. Walmart workers enrolled in the program would not be required to pay for their education upfront and seek reimbursement later. When Starbucks first announced its tuition subsidy and a partnership with Arizona State University in 2014, the company was criticized for pushing the risk onto its workers by making them pay up front."
The flip side of this, of course, is that if the employees stick with Walmart, even at the relatively low pay offered, it means they believe that the firm is offering more value for them than an alternative employer. This is the key lesson that economics teaches us – assuming a voluntary relationship, when employer and employee come together at an agreed compensation package and benefits, then value is being created on both sides:
"Walmart workers will qualify for the benefit after 90 days of employment and will not be penalized if they leave the company before finishing their studies."
Take care
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Walmart to Subsidize Cost of College Tuition for its U.S. Workers
By Michael Corkery
May 31, 2018
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final