Wal-Mart Faces Recruiting Challenges

Wal-Mart Faces Recruiting Challenges

WAL-MART STORES [4] HAS RAMPED UP ITS talent-acquisition capabilities in the last several years, although the company still faces some challenges in this area.

Talent acquisition and development was cited by Mike Duke [5], Wal-Mart's president and chief executive officer, as one of the key pillars for building the company's future.

“We have to be more intentional about developing talented leaders, managers and associates around the world,” he said at the company's annual meeting this month. “That means better training and greater opportunity for our store associates. And it means thinking globally and building teams that reflect today's world.”

Observers said Wal-Mart has been much more conscientious about its hiring and promotional practices in the wake of negative publicity, such as the lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court last week alleging that the company discriminated against women. Although Wal-Mart won a victory in that case when the court found that plaintiffs did not have cause for class action, the individual parties in the suit are still free to file claims.

Wal-Mart also has a reputation as a process-driven company with little room for creativity and free thinking, said Jose Tamez, managing partner at the Denver officer of executive recruiting firm Austin-Michael. And sometimes its recruiting efforts can leave potential hires a little leery.

“Over the last 10 years, and the last five years especially, Wal-Mart has done a good job beefing up their talent acquisition and recruiting department,” he said. “They have the resources to reach out and touch people much better than they did five years ago.

“However, the manner in which they reach out is not very intimate, and that has left some prospective new hires feeling a little cold, in terms of how Wal-Mart follows up and develops a relationship. That's a key component of any recruitment process.”

In addition, although Wal-Mart is still considered an attractive company to work for, in the past some recruits from regional supermarket chains have found Wal-Mart's process-driven culture to be stifling.

“Those regional companies can be very entrepreneurial, and they go into a company that is very process-driven, and very conforming, and all of a sudden the job is not fun,” Tamez explained, noting that the culture is very different especially from the CPG industry culture.

And although Wal-Mart has recruited a lot of people from the CPG industry in recent years — Stephen Quinn, the chief marketing officer, is an example — Tamez said he expects most recruits will continue to come from retail.

“At Wal-Mart, they have a limited amount of plays in their playbook, and as long as it continues to keep costs down, and move the needle at retail, they keep running those same plays, which have been successful and fits their model. At CPG companies, they have an unlimited amount of plays, and they are driven by product innovation, product development, branding and new ideas.”