The nation’s largest private employer is giving some of its employees a big boost in pay.
Walmart said it is raising the average salary for store managers by roughly 9.4 percent—to $128,000 a year, up from $117,000. The raise kicks in on Feb. 1. Store managers will also be eligible for bonuses of up to 200 percent of their base salary, based on individual store sales and profit.
“Making Walmart the best place to shop means we need to make it the best place to work. To accomplish that, we are on a journey of investing in our associates—from offering competitive front-line pay to benefits that support associates’ health and well-being in all aspects of life,” Cedric Clark, executive vice president, store operations, Walmart U.S., said in a company blog post.
The announcement comes soon after other compensation moves from Walmart, including raising pay for many front-line hourly associates, while reducing starting pay for other workers.
SHRM Online gathered up additional news on Walmart’s compensation and benefit news, as well as the general state of pay in the workplace.
First Raise for Store Managers in a Decade
The raise was the first time Walmart raised pay for store managers in a decade.
Walmart told CNN that it hasn’t made any changes to store managers’ pay structures in more than 10 years, since before the pandemic and all that followed, including a period of high inflation.
Previously, the pay range for store managers was between $65,000 and $170,000, Walmart said. It will now increase to between $90,000 and $170,000, based on the store format the manager runs.
Walmart Expanded Benefits in 2023
Walmart hasn’t been stagnant on total rewards changes in the past year.
In November, the retailer expanded its benefits to provide employees with access to doula services, covering up to $1,000 for doulas during pregnancy as part of a suite of benefits offered through its “Life with Baby” program, which is available to associates on most employee medical plans. Walmart first covered doulas—nonmedical professionals who assist expectant mothers emotionally and physically through pregnancy, labor and delivery—in a pilot program in 2021 for employees in Georgia. The program was later expanded into Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois.
In May, Walmart beefed up its mental health benefits, doubling the number of therapy and mental health coaching sessions it provides to all workers and their dependents. And in July, it added a new financial wellness benefit, offering free financial literacy education for all employees through online provider Khan Academy.
Walmart Lowered Starting Pay for Some
Even though Walmart has raised pay for many workers, it recently reduced starting pay for others.
In September, reports showed that Walmart lowered starting pay for new hires who prepare online orders for curbside pickup or delivery to customers' homes, as well as for workers who restock store shelves. The change began in July 2023, with new Walmart employees making about $1 an hour less than those who joined the company a few months earlier.
At the time, compensation experts told SHRM Online that the move wasn’t all that surprising, given shifting economic tailwinds.
“Continued economic uncertainty brought about by high interest rates is cooling demand for workers in certain sectors, including retail, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing,” said Garry Straker, vice president, compensation consulting, at Salary.com.
Experts said that while some employers were considering slowing momentum of pay and likely pay attention to compensation moves by big companies such as Walmart, organizations and HR leaders should consider the full picture and do what is best for their own organization and for their employees.
“I would caution against impetuously following or mimicking the strategies of other companies without considering potential risks and consequences,” said Mara Marino, senior compensation consultant at Salary.com.
A Look at 2024 Pay Strategies
Walmart’s pay increase of more than 9 percent for its store managers is a big one, compared to the average salary hikes of workers in general.
U.S. employers are planning an overall average salary increase of 4 percent for 2024, according to the latest Salary Budget Planning Survey by consulting firm WTW, which surveyed more than 33,000 employers in December. Though down from the actual average increase of 4.4 percent in 2023, the numbers remain well above the 3.1 percent salary increase budget in 2021 and years prior.
Meanwhile, Mercer found a slightly more modest average salary increase of 3.8 percent in 2024 and an average merit boost of 3.5 percent.
Although employers are thinking more conservatively about raises this year compared with last year, Hatti Johansson, research director of reward data intelligence at WTW, said “healthy salary increases” look to be on tap for the year.
“Though economic uncertainty looms, employers are looking to remain competitive for talent, and pay is a key factor,” she said.