What It's Like to Work at Walmart

walmart jobsI started out at Walmart as a lowly cashier in 1999. It was just an after-school job, something to pay for going to the movies with my friends and to fuel my video game addiction.

Apparently, I was good at what I did, because I got promoted to customer service manager, and then to a job in the accounting office, and finally to the "coveted" position of assistant store manager. As may be obvious, I stayed until 2006.

The trademark vest

There wasn't anything particularly special about the people I worked with, but there wasn't anything un-special about them either. Everybody was fairly nice, a little disgruntled and dissatisfied with the low pay, maybe, but nice.

I worked at two different stores. The first was the social center of a small town and the second was much more urban and poor. The employees and customers at the second store seemed a little more ragged and worn down around the edges, but I could usually coax a smile or a laugh from everybody.

The dress code wasn't anything too strict. You had to wear the trademark Walmart vest (I still have it) and name badge, and couldn't wear shorts or flip-flops. There were many times, as a teenager, that I rolled out of bed in last night's T-shirt and jeans and made a mad dash to work. Nobody said a word. Later, as an accounting-office employee, I got to ditch the Walmart vest. This small victory was overshadowed when I went to work as a manager and was forced to dress in business attire.

No special treatment

Nothing about the jobs I had at Walmart was awful, exactly. It's just that it wasn't great. I thought everything ran fairly smoothly, until I became an assistant store manager. That's when I started to see how the so-called "higher ups" were treated. As a salaried employee, it didn't matter how many hours you worked, you were paid the same. To the big Walmart machine, that meant forcing salaried employees to work as much as possible. I would work anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week for the same measly paycheck. I began to get frustrated with the fact that such a rich organization could treat me so badly and pay me so little.

Nice perks, like a game room or free meals, might have made up for some of this, but nothing like that was granted to the employees. Most people worked out on the sales floor, but those "lucky" enough to have an office shared a crowded space with a bunch of other employees. All the personnel people shared an office; all the store managers shared an office -- that went on and on in every department behind the scenes. Nobody had their own space.

The only "perk" was a break room. Everybody shared the break room. There was a McDonald's in both stores where I worked, but nobody could really afford to eat from there every day on the salaries we made, so most people scarfed down Walmart brand (of course) sandwiches and chips brought from home.

A corporate slave

All of the people I worked with seemed to share my general attitude. We felt we had good job security working with such a large and important company, but we really wanted out. We all wanted to work somewhere better, more impressive, and of course, with higher pay.

Cashiers quit all the time to move on to bigger and brighter things like college or real careers, and I would watch them go, feeling a strange mix of envy and pride. Those of us who were routinely promoted, however, usually just stayed put. We knew we weren't making big money, but we also knew we had a decent job in a rough economy. At least it seemed decent at the time. Looking back, I realize I was pretty much a slave to the corporation.

In 2006, I finally made my break. I got a call from another company that wanted to recruit me. When I heard how much they were offering me, I couldn't turn it down. I worked fewer hours, and I made more money. I'm still working retail, but I'm doing well. I guess, in some ways, I'm grateful for the experience I gained at Walmart -- but I probably would have been a lot happier and a lot richer if I'd gained it elsewhere.

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Is it any wonder that employees are disgruntled when corporate America does not have their best interest at heart? When all leadership & management do is guide their behavior towards associates by what I call "spreadsheet on the brain" & fail to respect those in their charge, no wonder employees get disgusted, lose loyalty to their company, look for ways out, &/or look to government to subsidize their sustenance. If corporate America would develop the attitude that employees are their greatest asset & treat them as such, we wouldn't need the federal government buying employees loyalty. My challenge to leadership in corporate America, try being kindness, compassionate, charitable, not cold & coalesced, & so rigid toward your workers. Make the workplace a pleasant place to work, not a grindstone of a dungeon.

March 08 2014 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dustin Shreve

I worked at walmart in 2010 and this year. I left because I couldn't pay my bills and support my family and myself on what I was getting paid. I will never work for walmart again. They make billions of dollars a year, and yet they refuse to pay their employees a better wage, which is why 80% of walmart's employees are on public assistance (SNAP, WIC, welfare, etc.). I want nothing to do with a company that attributes to the problems that our government is having with public assistance spending.

November 06 2013 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Martha Kinsley

Walmart Is a awesome company to Work for I Love My Job for sure and the everyone there I work with all my Friends are so nice and very understanding too

September 24 2013 at 4:07 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I just got hired at Walmart and they're paying me $15.00 an hour. That's good enough for me for now :)

June 30 2013 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Clarissa18's comment
K Marie Muncy-Feyh

That sounds like crap....where is this?

December 04 2013 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Companies treat their employees exactly as well as they need to keep them there.

June 19 2013 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I started at WM in '95, it wasn't that bad of a place to work. I was promoted fairly quickly & actually enjoyed my job. Then a few years ago, the company started putting in all these new "productivity" plans. I'm not sure what kind of productivity they were meant to represent, but whatever idiot started them, obviously never worked a Walmart store in their whole career. Now, we have "score cards" that represent the workday. I've yet to see anyone who can complete the score card in the times allotted. They've failed to take into account a little thing called customer service, which can take up a bit of time, if you do it right. The score card on the overnight shift is basically impossible, so the management makes you cheat it, so they don't get ragged on about it. The pressure that gets put on them, to stick to this nonsense, just filters down to the associates. It's hard to do your job, when you have unrealistic expectations about how to do it. Either the Bentonville idiots need to spend some time in an actual store, for all three shifts, or they need to back off. I hate having to cheat the system, just to keep my manager off my case, instead of just being able to do my job. Oh, & I always hated those vests....thank goodness they're gone!!!!

June 17 2013 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband worked for WalMart for13 years after he retired from the Air Force and got out of real estate when the bottom fell out of everything. They were really good to him. He was promoted to Dep't Mgr in a short time and received regular raises. We did not need the hospitalization but did take advantage of the really good and cheap dental plan. The discount wasn't a lot but it helped. With his 401K and buying stock from his paycheck every payday we ended up with a nice nest egg. A lot of women worked there because their husbands did not have benefits plus a lot of students liked working there part-time. It is not a place to work if you have a family to support. You need to find a better occupation.

May 21 2013 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

let them fall....if your workers arent happy the company will fail...money is keeping them afloat...ii give them 10 years...gone be walmart......shop local owned...goodwill... thrift central...anywhere but walmart

May 20 2013 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
welcome sweetie

I don't like the way Wal Mart treats their employees. If the company fails it will probably be for that reason. If the employees aren't happy it affects the atmosphere of the store, which in turn takes away the enjoyment of shopping there. Moral is very low at any Wal Mart I've ever been in.

May 20 2013 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I worked at Walmart 06/2008 to 062010 and resigned for higher paying job. When I first started I was asked to work over time. At time and a half pay and 60 hours + a week income was great. Then Obamacare care scared them on the health care issue and they cut every ones hours. Same thing now has happened all across the country. Obamacare is what is killing business and the economy so don't be blaming Walmart!

May 20 2013 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob's comment

Real world experience is hard to argue with. Thanks for letting us know what is going in inside corporate America.

May 20 2013 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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