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Walmart is preparing to eliminate around 7,000 jobs in the coming months as the largest private employer in the country looks to boost efficiency in a rapidly changing retail landscape.
The cuts will affect back-office tasks such as accounting and invoicing. As The Wall Street Journal notes, these positions are most often held by employees that have been with the company for many years and are among the highest paid hourly workers in stores.
Walmart, however, wants these veteran employees to be working directly with shoppers, not hidden away in backrooms.
Starting early next year, the mega retailer will be replacing the tasks that back-office employees do with new money-counting “cash recycler” machines and relocating other tasks to a central office.
Walmart spokesperson Deisha Barnett said they tested the change in roughly 500 stores earlier this year. Barnett added that they believe most displaced employees will find new customer-facing roles and that their salaries could go up or down depending on their new position.
Although it is replacing some jobs with automation, industry-wide changes are creating several new positions that didn’t exist just a few years ago. For example, Walmart is expanding a new service that lets customers order their groceries online and pick them up curbside. The retailer needs dedicated employees to fill the orders and deliver them to the customer’s vehicle when they arrive. Another program uses Uber and Lyft drivers to deliver groceries directly to a customer's home.
Not everyone, however, is excited about the change. One employee that has been with Walmart for more than 20 years making $15 an hour doing invoicing said they are getting their resume together because a move back to the store floor isn’t appealing.