Earlier in the week, I wrote about Amazon's plans to hire 100,000 new workers to handle the surge in online shopping. Now Walmart has announced similar plans, except the company plans to go even further--adding 150,000 new employees between now and May.
Those employees will staff up Walmart's stores, distribution centers, and online fulfillment centers, according to a company statement. Walmart will also pay its 1.4 million current employees an extra $550 million in bonuses starting April 2.
Full-time employees will get a $300 bonus, and part-time employees will receive $150 each. The company's statement also said that it will pay its regular quarterly employee bonus a month early, at the end of April instead of May.
At a time when companies in communities across America are shutting down and laying off employees, the fact that the world's largest retailer is adding to its workforce is welcome news. Especially following on Amazon's move to do the same. While both companies receive plenty of criticism for some of their business practices (including from me), right now, workers can use all the help they can get.
Walmart also announced that it would start offering coronavirus testing in parking lots in its Chicago-area stores as soon as Friday. The company is offering this testing in a partnership with Walgreens and local health officials.
Bloomberg is reporting that the tests will first be offered to first responders and health-care providers, and are ready to start testing. "We have the tents. It should be up and running soon," said Dan Bartlett, Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs.
Walmart is in a different situation than many businesses. First of all, it's the largest company in the U.S. by revenue, meaning it has the resources to actually hire that number of employees. It also has locations across the country and have the ability to immediatly provide services to communities in hard-hit areas.
That means Walmart can help in ways that many businesses can not. In fact, other retailers have been hit hard, with Kohl's announcing it would shut all of its stores effective March 19 through at least April 1. Apple has closed its stores "until further notice."
Right now, every business is experiencing an unprecedented challenge as well as extraordinary changes. In order to survive, companies are having to make difficult choices about how to balance the needs of their business, their employees, and their customers. Those decisions aren't easy, but there is a lesson here.
Sometimes the way to respond to a challenge, at least in the short term, is to think creatively about how you can serve and support your community in a new way. Right now, that might mean transitioning your business online. If you're an accountant, maybe it means offering free webinars to educate businesses in your area on how to manage cash flow.
If you're a fitness center, maybe you can start offering online classes using Zoom. If you're a restaurant, it might mean turning your dining room into a place where your community can order and purchase fresh produce through your suppliers.
The reality is that Walmart might be big, but they don't have a monopoly on good ideas. The reason your business exists is that at some point you had a really good idea. Getting your business through this crisis successfully just means it might be time for another.