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Employee Satisfaction At Walmart

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Abstract

This study was conducted with the main objective of determining the level of employee satisfaction at Walmart. Given that the significance of employee satisfaction has been affirmed in literature, this research sought to determine whether employees at Walmart are satisfied or not. In addition, the study explored the perceptions of Walmart’s employees towards measures undertaken by the company to satisfy them. The study used a quantitative research design, wherein participants were selected randomly provided they were employees at the selected company (Walmart). Walmart was selected for this research because of the researcher’s inherent interest in the organization as well as the fact that the company has been consistently used as a case for worst employment relationships, particularly in the retail industry. The sample size for this research comprised of 50 Walmart employees, who were randomly selected. The primary data collection tool used in this study was the questionnaire, with responses being assessed using five-point likert scales. Evidence from the research suggests the following trends at Walmart:

Walmart’s employees not satisfied with their jobs; unsatisfied employees at Walmart are more likely to quit; employees at Walmart are more than moderately satisfied with workplace conditions and pays and promotions; employees at Walmart are not satisfied in terms of fair rewarding; and employees are moderately satisfied with employment evaluations, employee wellness programs, employee training and development, and perks and benefits. To this end, a number of recommendations were made for Walmart: (i) Walmart should expand its employee training and development opportunities, ensure that there is fair rewarding of employees, offer better pays as well as opportunities for promotion, and expand its employee wellness programs; (ii) Walmart should undertake an internal employee survey to determine which aspects need improvement; this will help in reducing the number of employees with intending to quit.

Employee Satisfaction at Walmart

Introduction

Background of the Study

The United States retail industry comprises of well-established distribution channels catering for diverse retail companies (Bustillo & Talley, 2011). Fishman (2006) stipulates that the retail service industry is the United States offers a competitive and open environment that cultivates innovation and strong business operations, which in turn, increases reliability and efficiency. Data from the US Commerce Department reports that, in 2011, the US retail industry reported total sales of $ 4.7 trillion from the 3.6 million establishments, which was an increase of 8% when compared to the previous year (Bustillo & Talley, 2011). In addition, Fishman (2006) reported that the retail industry provides employment to more than 42 million Americans. Data from the National Retail Federation points out that the 2012 retail industry sales were forecasted to increase by 3.4% relative to the 2011 sales. Walmart Stores Inc. is one of the major players in the United States retail industry. Walmart is a multinational retail corporation running several warehouse stores and discount department stores (Ingram, Lori, & Hayagreeva, 2010). The corporation third in terms of the largest public corporation globally and is consider the biggest private employer globally, providing employment to at least 2 million people across the globe. In addition, Walmart ranks third in terms of the largest retailers globally. The corporation was established in 1962 and later incorporated in 1969. At present, Walmart operates 8500 stores distributed in 15 countries, albeit under different names. For instance, in the United States, the company uses Walmart; in Mexico, the company operates as Walmex; in India, it operates as Best Price; in Japan, it operates as Seiyu; and in the UK, it operates as Asda (Ingram, Lori, & Hayagreeva, 2010). With the business environment adapting to new business concepts, methodologies and technologies, corporations are finding it extremely significant to make effective use of their most important asset: human resources. There is no doubt that human resources is linked to a company’s bottom line; simply stated, companies that make optimal use of their human resources perform better than companies that fail to get the best out of their employees. According to Armstrong (2003), organizations can only make the best use of their employees if they are satisfied. In this regard, employee satisfaction is a critical success factor in the contemporary business environment.

According to Ashar, Ghafoor, Munir, & Hafeez (2013), employee satisfaction describes the degree to which employees in an organization are happy and contented with regard to fulfilling their needs as well as desires at work. Several empirical studies have affirmed that employee satisfaction plays a pivotal role in influencing their goal attainment, motivation and positive employee morale. Studies have pointed out a number of variables that influence employee satisfaction, which include efforts aimed at employee empowerment, offering perks, offering compensation and benefits that are above the industry-average, recognition of employee’s efforts regularly, and positive management (Ashar, Ghafoor, Munir, & Hafeez, 2013; Chi & Gursoy, 2009; Armstrong, 2003). A number of studies have established a positive correlation between the level of employee satisfaction and the salaries and wages offered to employees.

According to Yee, Yeung, & Cheng (2008), no organization can realize its goals and objectives if does not have the right set of employees. As aforementioned, employees play a significant role in organizational success, especially in the contemporary business environment. Perhaps, this elucidates why firms are increasingly embarking on the allocation of extensive resources and efforts aimed at attracting and retain the top talent (Yazdani, Yaghoubi, & Giri, 2011). An empirical survey undertaken by Noe (2008) pointed out that most firms determine employee performance by using their amount of skills and knowledge; nevertheless, these firms underestimate the crucial role that employee satisfaction play in determining their performance. Studies by McDonald & Makin (2000) and Mauno, Kinnunen, & Ruokolainen (2007) have established a positive correlation between employee satisfaction and performance. In the light of this view, Lockwood (2004) recommends that, for an organization to make optimal use of its employees, it ought to devise the best strategies aimed at satisfying the needs and requirements of its workforce.

Employee satisfaction is positively related to customer satisfaction and service quality (Yee, Yeung, & Cheng, 2008; Noe, 2008; McDonald & Makin, 2000; Mauno, Kinnunen, & Ruokolainen, 2007), which are linked to profitability. According to Lee & Bruvold (2003), employee empowerment is one of the most effective strategies that firms can use to satisfy and retain their employees. Employee satisfaction is positively related to employee retention, which implies that satisfied employees are less likely to leave the organization in search for other opportunities elsewhere. Employee retention refers to the ability of an organization to retain its workforce. All organizations seek to lessen employee turnover, which translates to a reduced loss of talent and loss knowledge as well as a reduction in the recruitment and training costs (Lockwood, 2004; Lee & Bruvold, 2003). Lloyd (2002) articulates a number of measures that organizations can deploy to ensure high employee satisfaction and retention rates, which may include offering competitive benefits packages. Providing employees with financial incentives, offering employee with training and development opportunities, and ensuring that employees are aware of what is expected from them by the organization (LLoyd, 2002; Kim, 2002).

According to Karsh, Booske, & Sainfort (2005), employee satisfaction is an indicator of work behaviors, which may include organizational citizenship as well as withdrawal behaviors like turnover and absenteeism. In addition, employee satisfaction has been established to partially mediate the link between deviant work behaviors and personality variables (Karsh, Booske, & Sainfort, 2005; Iveta, 2012). Several studies have established a link between life satisfaction and employee satisfaction. Nevertheless, Fishman (2006) points out that these relationship is reciprocal, in the sense that an employee satisfied with his/her life is likely to be satisfied with work; similarly, an employee who is satisfied with his work is likely to be satisfied with his/her life. A significant finding for firms is that employee satisfaction is correlated to their productivity on the job. Emerson (2012) points out that this is crucial to businesses and researchers; this is because the notion that a direct relationship employee satisfaction and their performance exists is often mentioned in the media as well as in a number of non-academic management literature. However, a meta-analysis by Lee & Bruvold (2003) reported astoundingly low correlations existing between employee performance and job satisfaction. In addition, the meta-analysis pointed out that the relationship between employee performance and job satisfaction is often moderated by the level of job complexity in the sense that, for jobs that are highly complex, there is a higher correlation between employee performance and job satisfaction than for the case of jobs with low and moderate complexity (Brown & Lam, 2008). Moreover, a longitudinal study by Emerson (2012) pointed out that among the various work attitudes, employee satisfaction is considered a strong predictor for employee absenteeism, which suggests that devising measures to increase organizational commitment and employee satisfaction can be effective in reducing turnover and absenteeism. Studies have also pointed out that the intent to quit can have negative outcomes on employee performance, organizational citizenship behaviors and organizational deviance.

With regard to the retail industry, Armstrong (2003) asserts that Walmart is famed for having the worst employment relationships. Does this reputation translate to unsatisfied or satisfied employees at Walmart? Given that the significance of employee satisfaction has been affirmed in literature, this research seeks to determine whether employees at Walmart are satisfied or not.

Research Hypothesis

The primary objective of this study is to determine the level of employee satisfaction at Walmart. In order to achieve this objective, the following research hypotheses were used to guide the study:

H1: Employees at Walmart are not satisfied with their jobs

H2: Unsatisfied employees at Walmart are more likely to quit

H3: Employees at Walmart are not satisfied with the measures adopted by the company to satisfy and retain them (Employee evaluations, employee wellness programs, employee training and development, perks and benefits, pays and promotions, fair rewarding, and workplace conditions).

Research Methodology

Fisher (2007) asserts that the research methodology is a “general plan that outlines the steps required by the researcher to collect data in order to answer the research questions.” In any form of research, the research design can be either qualitative or quantitative, or a mix of both. This study used a quantitative research design, which entails the collection and analysis of quantifiable data using statistical techniques to determine the relationship between variables. It is evident that this study is confirmatory in nature, which poses the need to make use of quantitative research design. A confirmatory study is often recommended in situations where the research problem is clearly defined. In this regard, the study sought to confirm whether the reports of worst employment relationships at Walmart are true or not.

With regard to sampling, Fisher (2007) asserts that probabilistic sampling is recommended because it guarantees the validity of the study and lessens researcher bias. In this regard, this investigation used random sampling, wherein respondents were chosen randomly without any inclusion or exclusion criteria, provided that they were employees of Walmart. Walmart was selected for this research because of the researcher’s inherent interest in the organization as well as the fact that the company has been consistently used as a case for worst employment relationships, particularly in the retail industry. The sample size for this research comprised of 50 Walmart employees, who were randomly selected.

With regard to data collection, this study used primary data collected using questionnaires. A questionnaire is defined as “a self-administered instrument for asking questions” (Fisher, 2007, p. 125). The questionnaire for this study was designed to collect responses from Wal-Mart’s employees regarding their levels of job satisfaction, as well as their perceptions and attitudes towards the measures adopted by the company aimed at increasing their satisfaction. Prior to collecting data, the company was contacted and the researcher sought the permission of the company to use its staff in the study. In the questionnaire issued to respondents, the following information was observed:

Employee’s profile information: age, gender and years worked for Walmart;
Their levels of satisfaction with their jobs;
Their intention to quit or remain at the company;
Their perceptions and attitudes towards the measures adopted by the company to satisfy them.
Responses in the questionnaire were assessed using a five-point likert scale, with 1 indicating strongly dislike/dissatisfied and 5 indicating strongly like/satisfied. Data collected using the questionnaires were entered into SPSS version 20 for data analysis. The statistical tools used to analyze the quantitative data included measures of dispersion (standard deviation), measures of central tendency (mean) and the one-sample independent test.

Data/Findings

Respondents Characteristics

Age:

The table below shows the characteristics of the respondents basing on age:

Response Count Percent (%)
18-25 10 20
25-35 18 36
35-45 11 22
Above 45 11 22

Gender:

The table below shows the characteristics of the respondents basing on gender:

Response Count Percentage (%)
Male 27 54
Female 23 46

Years Worked at Walmart:

Years Worked At Walmart Response Count Percentage (%)
Less than 1 year 4 8
2-5 years 12 24
5-10 years 25 50
More than 10 years 9 18
Total 50 100

Level of Job Satisfaction

Level of Satisfaction Response Count Percentage
Not at all satisfied 7 14
Slightly satisfied 21 42
Moderately satisfied 9 18
Very satisfied 10 20
Extremely satisfied 3 6
Total 50 100

From the table above, it is evident that a significant percentage of employees at Walmart (42%) are satisfied with their jobs. A one-sample t-test was conducted to evaluate the significance of this finding with a test (hypothesized) value of 3, which moderately satisfied.

From the above one-sample t-test, the mean level of employee satisfaction at Walmart is M = 2.62, p< 0.05; this implies that difference between mean level of employee satisfaction and the hypothesized value of 3 is statistically significant. As a result, it can be concluded that employees at Walmart are not satisfied with their jobs; therefore, H1 is valid.

The Intention to Quit

One-way ANOVA was used to determine the link between the intention to quit and employee satisfaction at Walmart.

From the test, it is evident that those intending to quit had a mean satisfaction level of M = 2 while those with no intention to quit had a mean satisfaction level of M = 3.94, p

Level of Satisfaction and Attitudes towards Measures Adopted by Walmart to Satisfy Employees

This was measured using the ratings provided by employees with regards to their attitudes and perception of the various measures that Walmart uses to satisfy its employees. A one-sample test was conducted with a test value of 3, which indicates moderate satisfaction.

From the one samples t-test, employees at Walmart are more than moderately satisfied with workplace conditions and pays and promotions (p<0.05). However, employees are not satisfied with fair rewarding (M = 2.14, p<0.05). For the case of employment evaluations, employee wellness programs, employee training and development, employees at Walmart are moderately satisfied (P>0.05).

Conclusions and Limitations of Findings

The main objective of this study was to explore the level of employee satisfaction among Walmart employees as well as their attitudes and perceptions towards the measures adopted by Walmart to satisfy its employees. Evidence from the research suggests the following trends at Walmart:

Walmart’s employees not satisfied with their jobs;
Unsatisfied employees at Walmart are more likely to quit;
Employees at Walmart are more than moderately satisfied with workplace conditions and pays and promotions;
Employees at Walmart are not satisfied in terms of fair rewarding; and
Employees are moderately satisfied with employment evaluations, employee wellness programs, employee training and development, and perks and benefits.
From these findings, it can be concluded that H1, H2 and H3 are all valid.

Limitations of Findings

There are a number of methodological limitations associated with this research. The first limitation is associated with the use of questionnaire, which is the difficulty in ascertaining the truthfulness of information provided by respondents. There is the likelihood that the respondents may provide false information when responding to the questions in order to protect the name of the company. This has an impact on the validity of the findings. The second limitation stems from the sample size. A sample size of 50 is relatively small to make meaningful generalizations of the findings. In addition, the respondents were derived from one store, which implies that the findings cannot be generalized to include all Walmart employees distributed across the 15,000 stores worldwide. In addition, the scope of this study is only limited to the United States. There is no doubt that Walmart employees across the globe have diverse needs and requirements to be met, which implies that the findings from respondents gathered from the US may be different from the findings gathered from Walmart employees in other parts of the world.

Recommendations

Recommendations for Walmart

The findings from this research has highlighted significant insights regarding the level of employee satisfaction at Walmart as well as the employee’s perception of the measures that Walmart uses to ensure that its employees are satisfied. Three things are apparent, employees at Walmart are not satisfied with their jobs, unsatisfied employees are more likely to quit, and that employees are not satisfied with the measures used by Walmart to satisfy them. In this regard, the following are the recommendations for Walmart:

Walmart should expand its employee training and development opportunities, ensure that there is fair rewarding of employees, offer better pays as well as opportunities for promotion, and expand its employee wellness programs;
Walmart should undertake an internal employee survey to determine which aspects need improvement; this will help in reducing the number of employees with intending to quit.
Recommendations for Future Studies

It is apparent that this study is limited in its scope implying that these findings cannot be generalized. Perhaps, future studies should make use respondents from diverse organizations operating in diverse industries in order to enhance the generalizability of findings.

References

Armstrong, M. (2003). Human Resource Management Practice. New York: Prentice Hall.

Ashar, M., Ghafoor, M., Munir, E., & Hafeez, S. (2013). The Impact of Perceptions of Training on Employee Commitment and Turnover Intention: Evidence from Pakistan. International Journal of Human Resource Studies , 3 (1), 2162-3058.

Brown, S., & Lam, K. (2008). A meta-analysis of relationships linking eployee satisfaction to customer responses. Journal of Retailing , 84 (3), 243-255.

Bustillo, M., & Talley, K. (2011). For Wal-Mart, a Rare Online Success. The WallStreet Journal , p. B1.

Chi, C. G., & Gursoy, D. (2009). Employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and financial performance: An empirical examination. International Journal of Hospitality Management , 28, 245-253.

Emerson, A. (2012, February 15). The Benefits of Employee Empowerment. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from CreditUnionTimes: http://www.cutimes.com/2012/02/15/the-benefits-of-employee-empowerment

Fisher, C. (2007). Researching and writing a dissertation. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.

Fishman, C. (2006). The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works—and How It’s Transforming the American Economy. New York: Palgrave.

Ingram, P., Lori, Q. Y., & Hayagreeva, R. (2010). Trouble in Store: Probes, Protests, and Store Openings by Wal‐Mart, 1998–2007. American Journal of Sociology , 53-62.

Iveta, G. (2012). Human Resources Key Performance Indicators. Journal of Competitiveness , 4 (1), 117-128.

Karsh, B., Booske, B., & Sainfort, F. (2005). Job and organizational determinants of nursing home employee commitment, job satisfaction and intent to turnover. Ergonomics , 2 (3), 1260-1281.

Kim, S. (2002). Participative management and job satisfaction: lessons for management leadership. Public Administration Review , 62 (2), 1-23.

Lee, H., & Bruvold, N. (2003). Creating value for employees: investment in employee development. The International Journal of Human Resource Management , 2 (1), 981-1000.

LLoyd, C. (2002). Training and development deficiencies in ‘high skill’ sectors. Human Resource Management Journal , 12 (2), 64-81.

Lockwood, N. (2004). Maximizing human capital: Demonstrating HR value with performance indicators. Society for HUman Resource Management Quaterly .

Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., & Ruokolainen, M. (2007). Job demands and resources as antecedents of work engagement: a longitudinal study. Journal of Vacation Behavior , 70 (1), 149-171.

McDonald, D., & Makin, P. (2000). The psychological contract, organisational commitment and job satisfaction of temporary staff . Leadership & Organization , 4 (2), 84-91.

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Yazdani, B., Yaghoubi, N., & Giri, E. (2011). Factors affecting the Empowerment of Employees (An Empirical Study). European Journal of Social Sciences , 20 (2), 267-274.

Yee, R., Yeung, A., & Cheng, E. (2008). The impact of employee satisfaction on quality and profitability in high-contact service industries. Journal of Operations Management , 651-668.

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