Spokane Journal of Business

Walmart’s shift pickup program lets some go FT

Retailer plans to offer some fixed schedules next year

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employees in Spokane and North Idaho are signing up for additional work hours through a corporate program called Open Shifts, which enables many to move from part-time to full-time employment, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company says.

Nearly 360 employees at the nine Inland Northwest Walmart stores moved to full-time employment by signing up for more work hours, says Scott Markley, senior manager of national media relations for the company. Markley says that’s an “unusually high number.”

Markley estimates that the Spokane and North Idaho stores employ a total of at least 2,300 people. The big company operates more than 4,500 stores across the U.S. He says the majority of Walmart associates are working full time.

More than 18,400 Walmart employees work in Washington state, and an average retail associate earns $13.49 an hour, just over a dollar more per hour than the $12.46 for those in Idaho, says the company’s corporate website. Walmart employs almost 7,100 retail associates in Idaho, the site says.

This past April, Walmart increased its starting rate for associates to $9 an hour, and is scheduled to raise that to $10 an hour early next year, Markley says.

He says employees in Spokane and North Idaho who previously worked part time signed up for additional hours and shifts across all nine stores. “A bakery or deli associate can now request to work an available shift in electronics or the lawn and garden area and vice versa,” he says.

Walmart has five Spokane-area stores, with “supercenter” stores at 1221 S. Hayford Road, on the West Plains; at 9212 N. Colton, on the North Side; and at 15727 E. Broadway, in Spokane Valley. The company also has stores at 2301 W. Wellesley, on the North Side, and at 5025 E. Sprague, in the Valley. The stores that Wal-Mart refers to as “supercenters’ include full grocery stores in addition to carrying other merchandise.

In North Idaho, Walmart has supercenter stores in Post Falls and Ponderay. It also has another Post Falls store and one in Hayden.

“We want every associate to find the career opportunities they want at Walmart,” Markley says. “When associates feel better about the company, they do a better job of customer service.” 

Next year, Markley says the company will adopt the practice of allowing some associates to have set schedules each week.

“If an associate values stability, they will be able to choose a consistent schedule, ensuring they work the same days and hours each week. If an associate values flexibility, they can choose a flex schedule, selecting the days and hours they work each week from available shifts based on their needs,” he says.

Retail associates currently know their schedules more than two weeks in advance, Markley says.

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