Walmart seems to be headed on the right track. It just experienced its strongest U.S. growth in more than a decade, and part of reason for that is CEO Doug McMillon's strategy to better empower employees.

And now, Walmart has made a new announcement that seems to build on that strategy.

At least, it did at first glance.

A recent Bloomberg report details how Walmart recently polled employees to discover which perks would be most "meaningful to new hires." 

According to Bloomberg, the nation's largest private employer asked hourly workers to rate potential incentives from a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 signifying "This would be awesome!" and 1 signifying "I don't care about this." 

The incentives included the following:

  • Sign-on bonus
  • Childcare services
  • Tutoring
  • Pet care
  • Gym memberships
  • Company-provided mobile device
  • Transportation assistance
  • Immediate access to an employee discount card
  • Access to paid time off from day one
  • Gift cards 
  • Apparel credit

What a great and novel way to figure out what kinds of perks matter to your employees: Ask them!

But as I continued reading the report, a statement from Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing seemed to negate all the goodwill this poll could have created.

"We're always listening to feedback from our associates on how to improve our offering and experience," Rushing said. 

And then, the kicker. Wait for it...

"While the results of this poll are insightful, we don't currently have plans to implement anything based on the results," Rushing continued.

Man, oh man.

Where Walmart went wrong

Walmart is definitely on to something. Using real employee feedback to help inform its future hiring and benefits strategies--what's not to like about that?

But the company's follow-up messaging signals a major lack of emotional intelligence. 

It comes off sounding like the following: 

Hey--we really want to know what would make you guys happy working for us. Just don't expect that we'll actually give you any of those things.

Look, I get that Walmart needs time to figure out what to do with this information, and that it doesn't want to make promises that it can't (or won't) keep. And I have to admit, I kind of admire the company's honesty.

But here's another novel idea: 

You've worked hard to hire the right people and get them to buy into your company culture. You've spent time and money trying to solicit feedback from those people--feedback that you admit has already provided valuable insights.

Now, why not actually take those valuable insights and use them to attract more, like-minded employees?

Otherwise, what could have been an amazing idea will be nothing more than a major tease--and one more missed opportunity.

Published on: Sep 23, 2018
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