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Walmart officials outline new associate initiatives

Walmart on Wednesday said it was resurrecting an old slogan — “Our people make the difference” — as part of a comprehensive effort to help associates better serve customers.

In addition to the slogan — which will appear on name badges to be distributed to all workers this year — Walmart officials said they would replace outdated handheld ordering units used by store managers, bring back music in stores, relax dress codes, and revamp training programs.

The changes were announced in addresses to 3,000 Walmart associates who gathered as part of the retailer’s annual Shareholders Week events in Fayetteville, Ark.

Officials say the changes were prompted by worker suggestions, and come on the heels of Walmart’s announcement in February that it would invest $1 billion to raise wages and help workers better control their schedules. Officials are hopeful the initiatives can contribute to sales momentum at U.S. stores which have seen modest increases and improvements in customer perception over recent quarters.

“You’ve told us we’ve made it hard for you to do what you do best, which is serving our customers. Your feedback is helping us understand how we support you better and remove the distractions that get in your way,” Judith McKenna, Walmart’s U.S. COO, said. “Taking care of our customers begins with taking care of you. It’s that simple. My commitment to you is that we will continue to listen, and more importantly, act on what we hear.”

Greg Foran, Walmart’s U.S. CEO, said the company by October will replace outdated Telxon handheld ordering devices with new Zebra MC 40 units with greater functionality. The company also said it would bring back “Walmart Radio” to stores after discontinuing the service some time ago.


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Also returning to stores are policies allowing overnight workers and garden center workers to wear t-shirts and blue jeans; store workers also have the option to wear black or khaki denim pants. On certain “associate engagement days” workers can wear items like sports jerseys.

Later this summer, Walmart will launch a new training program known as Pathways, which will replace a computer-based learning module currently used. The new program will emphasize training exercises on the store floor, said Michelle Gloeckler, EVP of consumables, health and wellness.

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