Free «Organizational Culture at Wal-Mart» Essay

Organizational Culture at Wal-Mart


In the United States, Wal-Mart has employed about 1.3 million associates. Globally, it has 2.2 million, thus becoming the largest private employer in the world. Such an organization must therefore have effective employee relations in order to satisfy workers, who will in turn serve the customers satisfactorily. The employees are perceived as a family, hence the term “Walmartians”. Although the company has been commended for putting in place some strategies that are advantageous to its workers, it has received criticism as well. Majority of its criticisms relate to employee unionization and the organization’s reluctance to embrace the same. Nevertheless, it has made its attempts to balance between worker relations, labor relations, customer service and general business well-being.

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Wal-Mart as an Employer

Sam Walton’s vision was to assist the consumers’ live better lives as they saved money. In order to achieve this vision, Wal-Mart has put in place strategies and structures that are advantageous to employees on diverse levels. The organization supports employee growth. Customers are encouraged to go up the ranks in order to maximize their potential. The management engages in encouraging the employees to improve them by facilitating learning experiences such as training workshops. These practices also include encouraging worker’s ownership.

Hiriyappa (2009) indicates that Wal-Mart has attempted to create some balance between the productivity of employees and being operational accountable by focusing on stock, expense control (preventing theft) and customer service. The organization highly upholds respect for individuals. The subordinates should respect their managers as the managers respect them. Through this avenue, a mutual beneficial relationship works to the benefit of the organization’s growth. As an outcome, the organization is constantly opening a store in the U.S, which is able to provide 300 job opportunities. On the larger scale, the organization offers job opportunities of that range between 15,000 and 50,000 depending on the time/season (Wal-Mart, 2014). This makes it popular among the community members as they perceive that they are benefitting from it as it is benefitting from them. 

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In providing equal job opportunities to all community members, the organization has compensated for the numerous legal claims that could have otherwise ruined its reputation. For example, the company has been able to provide job opportunities to more than 100,000 veterans over the past half a decade. After the claims had against in as far as discrimination is concerned, the organization’s staff comprises of approximately 57% female employees (Wal-Mart, 2014). However, there needs to be more women in the top positions.

Wal-Mart’s Benefits

The organization’s employees have quite attractive benefit packages. Attractive packages motivate the employees to improve their performance or give satisfactory results to themselves, the organization’s management and customers. An employee who works full-time is able to earn $12.92 per hour. The associate who works hourly is also able to benefit from a 401k plan. This has a company match. The associate also gets a healthcare plan worth $18 per payment period. This is the starting point. He/she also enjoys 10% discount if he/she buys goods at the store. Overall, the employee is given the chance to grow his/her career. For example, 75% of the management team started as associates who worked on an hourly basis. In their managerial levels, they are able to earn between $50,000 and 170,000 (Wal-Mart, 2014). This is on an annual basis.

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These benefits have allowed the organization to remain intact even after the numerous issues it has had to go through due to its reluctance to unionization. The organization has more and better benefits than other organizations of its nature. Since it offers room for growth, hence better compensation packages as compared to other stores and organizations, the employees continue to work for it even without being in unions. The organization also continues to open more stores, as well as create more job opportunities, reducing the unemployment problem which appears to bear more weight than having an employee union. 

Organization Culture and Unionization

Employee relations entail maintaining the relationship between the employer and the employee. On the other hand, labor relations entail managing workers who are in unions. The latter mainly look after the interests of the employee (Gunnigle et al., 2002). Wal-Mart has embraced a culture that works together in order to ensure that the consumer lives better as well as saves money. The performance criteria set by the organization must assess whether this purpose is being achieved. As an outcome, structures and strategies have been implemented for ensuring that the same is achieved, For example, overtime policies, targets set by management, employee vacation and off days are included in the performance criteria, which also affect unions.

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As indicated earlier, unions look after the interests of its members. They advocate for its members in the presence of their employers. In many scenarios, there are conflicts between the employer’s interests and those of the union. This has a significant impact on the union, as unions are forced to take legal action against the employer. Such a case in Wal-Mart is evident in their store in Quebec. When the employees voted in favor of joining a union, the organization closed down its store a couple of months later. United Food and Commercial Workers Union took the organization to court as it had violated the laws of the land in as far labor laws were concerned (Reuters, 2014). The organization was penalized for the same. The union’s relationship with the employer (Wal-Mart) appears to be a negative one. However, the interests of the employees were prioritized through the union.

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Wal-Mart has maintained a culture that attracts potential employees while maintaining the existing ones. It has offered employee benefits have allowed the organization to remain intact even after the numerous issues it has had to go through due to its reluctance to unionization. In providing equal job opportunities to all community members, the organization has compensated for the numerous legal claims that could have otherwise ruined its reputation. However, the performance criteria set by the organization may cause diverse conflicts between the organization and unions. Some of the organization’s practices may result in employee strikes and loss of other resources. This is part of the reason causing the firms repellant behavior towards unionization. Overall, whether it is through labor relations or employee relations, the interests of the employee have been upheld even in such large organizations as Wal-Mart.

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