What It’s Like To Work At Walmart — Pre and Post Pandemic
Being an essential worker these days is a risk in itself, but working for a place that does not value you and appreciate the risk that you are taking makes it all that much less appealing and this is life as a Walmart employee during these unprecedented times.
Going into work at Walmart is always a challenge. You have the challenge of unruly customers, drunk people in the aisles, and the mayhem of working a Black Friday and then the normal craziness about working for the most well known company in America, but then to do it in the middle of the worst public health crisis in decades adds to the stress and difficult situation.
I am sure you like most Americans have an opinion about Walmart, some love it and some hate it but we all have an opinion on the store whether we have been there once or a thousand times, whether we know someone who works there or work there ourselves, or we are just against the things that they stand for.
Walmart in one way or another is an American icon, whether that is in a good way or bad way depends on the person.
However, working at the iconic big box retailer is very different than going there for groceries or the latest iPhone and working for Walmart can either be a good experience or a not so good experience and that as well depends on the person and on the store that they work at.
I was a Walmart employee and I have some things I would like to reveal about the billion dollar company known as Wally World. The things that the average American consumer experiences at Walmart are very different than the things that the employees of the Arkansas based chain knows and lives as a worker for this company.
In this article I will go over the reasons why working for Walmart is not the best place to work and why this company is not the ideal place of employment if you would like to be valued as an employee and have a fair and decent place to work, at all times, not just in a pandemic where working for these people is even worse than it was before.
Overworked and Underpaid
Walmart has a unique system that benefits them while screwing over their employees and that system is to overwork them and underpay them, but do not overwork them to the point where they have to pay them benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, and more.
They keep most of their employees at part-time, but just under full-time hours. They will give you hours but will not give you full-time hours where you get those benefits, they will give you like 30–33 hours per week which keeps you under the 34-hours that the company considers to be a full-time employee.
They also do not pay most employees more than minimum wage and their quarterly and annual pay raises are in cents, not in dollars like they should be to provide a living wage, especially in an expensive state such as the state of California.
Never complain about being overworked as they will just find someone else to do your job as they can with their employee structure. You see, at Walmart, it is not uncommon for an employee to be taken from another department to fill in for someone from a different area and this is how they can have the attitude that everyone is replaceable.
For example, someone from grocery can be pulled and sent to frozen and dairy to fill in when needed and this happens throughout the store when someone does not show up or they have to keep hours lower for the workers throughout.
It is by keeping nearly everyone at part-time hours that they get away with not giving most of their workers benefits that the full-time workers get and they can do this because they just pull people from other parts of the store to meet their needs.
Walmart does this because they care about their bottom line and not the needs of their workers. They keep you at part-time hours, but they work you like a full-time worker during those hours, they push you and get on your case if you are not meeting their standards and do not seem to care the physical, mental, or emotional impact of these demands.
Work hard, get paid less.
This is the motto of this company and this is what they do with their workers and after the pandemic hit, this became even worse and does not get better as the pandemic gets worse and the work conditions become less safe and the risk increases.
They did give these part-time workers a $150 bonus for the hard work that they do and full-time ones a $300 bonus. My question is, what good is that money if you have to put your life at risk during a deadly pandemic or when that bonus money is taxed and you get $117 of that bonus for take home pay?
Like I said, overworked and underpaid. That is the Walmart worker.
Punished For Getting Sick , Even During a Pandemic
Walmart punishes their workers for getting sick and for missing work for an illness.
They run things on a point system where if you call in sick too many times then you will run out of points and lose your job. The point system is where you are only allowed five points before you are terminated and you can get this points by getting 0.5 points for being late or leaving early, one point for an absence, and 4.5 points for a no-call, no-show.
In many jobs the way that it works is that if you get sick and cannot go to work then you are not punished, but with this company, that is not the case and you are in fact punished and if you miss too many days then you lose your job and that is simply not right.
Walmart proves that they do not care about their employees with this policy alone and while during this pandemic they have changed the policy where if you have a COVID-19 related illness or a family member who is out with the virus and you must care for them, then you are not given points and they will work with you, but only to a point.
I know this one personally.
Walmart pressures people to come back to work when they are sick, pandemic or not.
They pressured me and I was out with the Coronavirus and they do this with many of their employees. That and not to mention that they have this policy relating to COVID-19 where they are supposed to give temperature checks and screen employees for coughs and other symptoms before they are given the go ahead to work and they do not always follow this guideline.
I have personally seen employees with a cough or other symptoms be told by the person screening that they could work when that is not the policy when it comes to this virus and the guidelines. I have seen people be allowed to work when they were sick with possible symptoms of this illness and this is because they are afraid to lose their jobs or not be paid for being out.
Whether it is during a pandemic or any other time, Walmart punishes their workers for being ill and not being able to go to work. They have healthcare that is available to their workers, but once again, that is only available if you are a full-time worker, which we have already talked about, that is really hard to be being that they keep most workers on as part-time only.
Break Time is Not Always Break Time
Walmart has a policy that you get a half an hour lunch break and two fifteen minute breaks and that if you are interrupted during those breaks then you get to start them over, but they do not always adhere to this policy and I have been pulled from break and even had to work my lunch breaks on numerous occasions.
I have seen this happen to others as well, hence why I say that break time is not always break time.
Break time should be break time, but at Walmart, not many things are what they should be. The way that it goes is that if you do not take your lunch break by your 5th hour (at least in California), then you get written up, but they still at times will tell you to forgo your scheduled meal break and work on projects that they have in mind.
So, a break is not always a time to eat or relax as it legally is required to be for employees.
Similar to the first thing I have learned about working at Walmart about being overworked and underpaid, working through required breaks is something that Walmart does to their employees that show just where their values stand when it comes to doing what is best for their workers and that is that they do what is best for them and their bottom line.
Trained in All the Wrong Ways via an Impersonal Computer Screen
Walmart claims to pride themselves on their great state-of-the-art training program, but in reality, it is not very high tech and is a very impersonal system of training that basically leaves the employee on their own and without any real person to train you.
Their system of training has you do these two programs called Glyms and Pathways where you sit there and watch these videos and then have to take these tests on those clips you watch. This system is flawed in many ways as there is no person to train you and the ways that you should be trained on in job specific ways within your department do not happen.
I remember that when I would watch the videos that I would not learn much that I could use in my job as a frozen/dairy associate and the manager of the department did not give much on the job and hands on training on how to do the job in that department and those videos did not help either.
The videos are useful to know safety policies and such like that but they did not give much training on how to do the actual job that you are hired for and basically just throw you to the wolves to learn on your own while also pulling you back off the floor and having you finish those videos and tests and if you do not do pass these tests and complete all of the videos, then you end up losing your job.
The training system is bad and many of the managers are not even properly trained in critical ways that they should be.
Finding a Manager Who is Available is Like Pulling Teeth
Going back to the sick leave situation, when you call to speak to a manager to call out sick when you have an illness, it can be a challenge to get in touch with someone to report an absence.
Walmart does most of the employee communication online with their One Walmart system and you can report your time off via this method but you still are required to contact a supervisor directly at your local store when you miss time due to an illness or other emergency.
Even when you are on the worksite and have an issue that needs the attention of a manager then it can be difficult to find someone to address your issue and even if they are in the office, they often are not available to address the needs that you may have, even if it is a need such as trying to help a customer or get the keys to open the trash compactor.
The availability of management is just not there at this business, and can often be an excruciating task that can feel like pulling teeth and this should not be something that an employee has to experience whether it is calling in sick to work or something as critical as finding staff to help a customer or other work related task.
The Department From Hell — Frozen and Dairy
There is a very good reason why nobody wants to work in this department and why at just six months, I was the longest tenured employee in the frozen and dairy department and that is that it is a horrible department and is literally like hell freezing over.
The law limits how long you can stay in the cold temps of the dairy cooler and the freezers, but as far as Walmart is concerned, you stay there until the job is done.
Your hands get purple and you cannot feel your fingers and then you have to dress like you are hiking in the snowy fields of Antartica and then you have to stay in there to label the products and pull them out to be stocked and then you go in and out from the cold to warmth of the sales floor and then back to the cold again.
This is life as a frozen and dairy associate. Then expect you to get four or five pallets of dairy or frozen items stocked while also restocking the milk, zoning the sections (organizing so they are neat, until the customers mess them up and you have to re-zone), and doing dozens of other duties as well and then when you add this job during a pandemic and have to stock while social distancing, it is a challenge.
This department is not the ideal place to be and is one that is not for the faint of heart and for sure not for those who do not like the cold, it was not the best experience to say the least, but this is what they do, they want you to do the job of many and in not the best conditions such as the conditions of being in this department.
This Company Simply Does Not Value the Safety and Well-Being of Their Workers
This is what I learned the most working at Walmart and this was the most troubling part of my Walmart experience.
Walmart does not care about their employees, Walmart cares only about production and their bottom line. The way it works at this company is that if you produce for them then they are all about you and will do things for you, but if you fall under hard times and cannot perform, then you are expendable to them.
This has never been more true than in this pandemic and I have learned this personally.
I got sick with COVID-19 and had to go on medical leave and they fought with me to not give me those medical leave payments and then I only was given around 30% of my medical leave pay and only around half of that was in the form of full payments.
I had a bad case of the virus where I was sick with all of the symptoms of the virus and laid up with a cough, fever, fatigue, and more for more than seven weeks and it got to the point where they fired me on medical leave and now I do not have a job.
That is right, they FIRED me for getting the Coronavirus!
This company does not care about their workers and even went as far to deny employees masks at the start of this pandemic and said that “It would scare away customers”, and then when they finally did allow employees to wear face coverings, they made employees wait until the “company approved” masks came in and would not let us wear our own and I was even told this when I asked.
You know what the company approved masks are right?
They are the blue generic ones that you see in the dollar store and other discount stores.
They do not care about their employees mental, physical, and emotional health whether we are in a pandemic or not and will always put the needs of their shareholders above the needs of those who make them those billions and billions of dollars and it will always be that way.
The last thing that I can say about what I learned by working at Walmart is that this company is not a good company to work for and this company will sound good on paper, but then not deliver on the promises that they promise to you.
They pay low wages and expect you to not only wear yourself out working for them and getting the job of four people done all by yourself, but they expect you to do all of this while working in the middle of a global pandemic and risk your life doing this job.
The horror stories that you have heard about working for Walmart are very true, but they are understated.
This company has some good things like the free high school program, the $1 a day college program, and good 401K and health insurance programs for the few full-time workers, but other than that, they are not a good place to work and you will soon learn to hate your job and your life.
Save your sanity, avoid Walmart as a place of employment and if you possibly can, in general.