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Bloomberg reports that Walmart "is rolling out sweeping changes to staffing in its U.S. stores just as the holiday crunch begins, bringing pay raises for some -- but not all -- members of a massive workforce that’s already been upended by the coronavirus pandemic."

Starting next month, the story says, "all of Walmart’s U.S. supercenter locations will switch to a new team-based model that the retailer has been testing over the past year and a half in many of its smaller stores. About 165,000 hourly staffers will see a raise, Walmart said in a memo outlining the move, but the program will also trim the ranks of leaders per store, and could prompt some to leave … The new system replaces most longstanding leadership positions like co-manager, assistant manager and department manager, replacing them with a new 'future-focused' hierarchy of store leads, coaches and team leads. A typical supercenter could have one store lead, seven coaches and two dozen team leads. The team leads’ hourly wage will start at $18 and can rise to $30 in some cases, the memo said."

The story goes on:  "The changes are part of a broader rethinking of how to most efficiently deploy Walmart’s 1.5 million-person U.S. workforce in a more digital age. The pandemic, which has spurred demand for groceries and household essentials, shocked supply chains and boosted e-commerce, has tested workers’ patience, with some shoppers railing about missing items and others refusing to adhere to mask-wearing mandates. Once-mundane tasks, like store cleaning, have become critical."

KC's View:

While it is necessary to adjust a workforce based on changed circumstances, it will be curious to see the degree to which these changes help a workforce that no doubt has been battered  by the pandemic.  One of the things I hear from retailers across the board is that employees are generally feeling beat-up and exhausted … it has been a long six months, and there are few signs that things are going to get a lot better anytime soon.

The other thing I wonder about is whether fewer leaders means that more front line employees have great responsibility and autonomy to make decisions.