Walmart’s Annual Shareholders Week was held in Northwest Arkansas this year. On May 30, it was announced that the country’s largest private employer is launching it’s first-ever employer branding campaign. The most attractive part of this campaign is the message of making college affordable. The campaign has proposed that Walmart will sponsor the college education of any of its part-time or full-time associates in the U.S. if they are willing to contribute only $1 a day.
In partnership with Guild Education, Walmart has proposed that its workers will be able to access associates and bachelor’s degrees in Business or Supply Chain Management. The company has collaborated with the University of Florida, Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska and Brandman University in Irvine, California to offer these degrees. These universities are non-profit with a focus on providing high-quality education to adult learners.
This education benefit program is valid for any of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. workers provided they have at least worked in the company for 90 days. Getting accepted at one of these universities and a dollar a day is the goal for all associates who apply for admission. After that Walmart will take care of the tuition, books and other fees. The average fee benefit over a span of two to five years will range from $12,000 to around $30,000 depending on the average tuition and other fees of the respective programs quoted by these universities.
Around 68,000 associates are eligible to apply for this program according to Ms. Julie Murphy, the Executive Vice President of People for Walmart U.S. She also adds that the basic objective of this program is to make college affordable so that students will not need to go for student loans, one of the main reasons why people are reluctant to return to college.
Walmart joins an increasing number of employers in offering subsidized college educations. Starbucks, for example, offers a similar program in which its employees are offered a full ride to Arizona State University for undergraduate degrees in more than 60 subjects. Drew Holler, Vice President of People Innovation for Walmart U.S. says that the aim behind this program is to improve customer service, employee retention, and engagement at work.
The employee branding is done by a shop in San Francisco, Barrett SF, with the tagline of “This is that place” and a rainbow version of the Walmart’s logo. The company boasts of providing diversity, technology and growing opportunities to its current 2.4 million global employees and also for potential employees who are going to judge the company on the basis of this campaign.
This campaign comes at a time when Walmart is struggling to keep up with the tough competition of the labor market. The company’s employer brand campaign has faced harsh criticism from union leaders who claim that the retailer is way behind in terms of employment policies, pay and other benefits. This is the reason why although being one of the largest retailers, Walmart ranks 11th in employer rating on Glassdoor.com.