Wages rising for Walmart’s workforce

LIHUE — Walmart is making a $2.7 billion investment over two years in its U.S. workforce to raise wages, provide better training and increase scheduling choice and flexibility.

As part of this commitment, the company is investing $950,000, resulting in 820 additional raises for associates in Hawaii. By February, the new full-time average hourly wage in Hawaii will be $15.38 an hour and $11.68 an hour for part-time associates.

“This new initiative is very positive for associates in Hawaii, especially with our high cost of living,” said Valerie Grammer, personnel coordinator for Kauai Walmart. “I’ve been with Kauai Walmart 20 years and have enjoyed the diversity of my job over the years. I’m also grateful to be among those benefiting from the increase in the maximum pay bands.”

Over the past year, Walmart has increased wages in three phases beginning in April by moving its national starting rate to at least $9 an hour. In Hawaii, where the starting wage is higher, all Walmart associates earn at least $10 an hour.

In July, the company increased wages for more than 100,000 associates in specialized positions, like wireless or deli associate, and department managers.

In February 2016, Walmart will raise wages for associates hired before Jan. 1 to at least $10 an hour, $2.75 an hour above the federal minimum wage; hourly managers of the company’s more complex and service-oriented departments will earn at least $15 an hour. Associates hired beginning Jan. 1 will start at $9 and move to at least $10 after successfully completing the company’s new Pathways training program.

“We commend Walmart’s initiative to provide pay raises to its employees,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “This, along with offering career and training opportunities to its workforce, subsequently contributes to a greater quality of life for their employees. This is a positive step and shows that Walmart is committed to investing in its workforce, as well as the community.”

The company is starting to see a return on its investments.

Since the first phase of pay raises went into effect, Walmart’s customer experience scores and associate engagement numbers have increased.

The company also announced during its third quarter earnings that U.S. comp-store sales were positive for the fifth straight quarter and customer traffic was positive for the fourth straight quarter.

Pascual Iringen started with Walmart four years ago as a part-time container unloader at the Keeaumoku store.

“I think these new initiatives will be great not only for associate morale, but also building upon the company’s culture of teamwork and respect. Over the years, I’ve been provided with opportunities, training, and encouragement to work my way up to become a support manager.”

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