Walmart continues to invest in its workforce.
The mass-channel merchant said Thursday that it was increasing hourly wages of more than 36,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy technicians. The changes are effective this week and bring the average hourly wage to more than $20 an hour.
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“This is the second time we’ve made significant wage investments for this group of associates in the past year, after also increasing their pay last August. That’s by design,” read a Walmart blog post written by Kevin Host, senior vice president of Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy, and Sean Jackson, senior vice president of Sam’s Club, Health & Wellness, Consumables, on Thursday. “We are sending a strong signal to pharmacy technicians everywhere that Walmart is serious about attracting top talent and giving them the tools to build a successful career.”
To do this, the retailer said it will also offer more frequent raises to pharmacy technicians, including raises every six months during the first two years of service, as well as automatic pay raises as the company transitions to a new wage model “designed to set us apart from the competition,” the blog post read.
“For example, the new pharmacy technicians get raises that can add up to $4 to their starting base pay over the course of four years,” continued the blog. “We believe we are among the first large retailers to incorporate this kind of model — an approach that’s commonly seen in health care systems. This will help associates increase their pay more quickly as they build their careers and continue working at Walmart.”
Additional perks include free training for eligible associates to become certified pharmacy technicians. Walmart also plans to hire approximately 5,000 new pharmacy technicians this year.
“These investments can be life-changing and lead to unlimited growth opportunities with the company,” the blog post read.
Walmart increased its hourly minimum wage — from $11 to $12 — for more than 500,000 people last September, amid an increasingly tight labor market and as competition for talent heats up. Retailers such as Target have also raised their minimum wages in the last year. In addition, many are now offering increased benefits, such as tuition reimbursement programs.
But the competition for workers might be slowing. Applications for unemployment unexpectedly rose in May, an early warning sign that more layoffs may be coming.
That same month, during Walmart’s quarterly conference call with analysts, Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of the firm, said the company actually hired too many people — at least in stores — during the Omicron surge last December.
“As the Omicron variant case count declined rapidly in the first half of the quarter, more of our associates [who] were out on COVID-19 leave came back to work faster than we expected,” McMillon said during the call. “We hired more associates at the end of last year to cover for those on leave. So we ended up with weeks of overstaffing. That issue was resolved during the quarter, primarily through attrition.”
Meanwhile, McMillon’s own wages continue to rise. In 2021, the CEO’s total compensation was $25.7 million, up from $22.6 million the year before, a combination of salary, incentives and stock options.