Walmart Storefront
Walmart managers lead busy lives: 10-hour shifts, 6 miles walked! It's demanding, but recent changes aim to improve work-life balance.

To improve employee retention, Walmart announced significant pay increases for store managers earlier this year. Some managers could now earn up to $530,000 annually.

Greg Harden, a store manager, was so surprised by the news that he "almost fainted," according to Bloomberg. The report states that Harden oversees a team of over 400 employees and manages a Grand Prairie, Texas, store that generates over $100 million in sales annually. The store is one of the largest in the Dallas area.

Walmart's new plan increases the average base salary for US store managers to $128,000, a bump from $117,000. Top-performing Supercenter managers will now earn a base salary of $170,000. The total compensation package becomes attractive because of a potential 200 per cent performance bonus and stock options ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 (depending on store size).

It is also worth noting this job doesn't require a four-year college degree. However, managing a Walmart store is demanding. As Harden shared with Bloomberg, his typical week involves six 10-hour shifts starting at 5 am.

According to the publication, other managers likened the responsibility to running a small town, suggesting the role carries a level of authority comparable to a mayor's.

Cedric Clark, Walmart executive vice president overseeing store operations, gave the announcement to Bloomberg about the pay raise, improved benefits, and new tech tools to boost morale and decrease turnover among store leaders.

In a similar move, Walmart significantly boosted trucker pay, offering salaries up to $110,000 annually to compete in the tight US labour market in 2022.

Why Are Store Managers Crucial to Walmart's Operations

While Walmart wouldn't disclose specific figures, data from Revelio Labs shows a positive trend. Their analysis indicates a two percentage point drop in annual manager attrition, bringing the current rate down to around 21 per cent.

This improvement resonates with store managers like Mark Harden who leads a team of over 400 employees at one of the largest Walmart stores in the Dallas region, a Grand Prairie, Texas. The location is known to generate more than $100 million in annual sales. Harden is know to spend significant time at Walmart, hitting the store floor at 7am, gathering feedback from overnight crews and checking the pulse of the grocery section.

Walmart Store Manager
Walmart managers are more than store leaders. They connect with the community and their loss hurts both Walmart and customers. Pexels

Throughout the day, he ensures aisles are well-stocked, price tags are easy to find, and truck deliveries run like clockwork. Harden is ready to call it a day after a ten-hour shift that can stretch to six miles of walking and conversations with roughly 200 people.

This demanding schedule is an improvement; He routinely puts in even longer hours before recent changes, starting religiously at 5 am and often working six days a week. The pressure to perform is undeniable. A recent departure from Walmart, reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, highlights the potential for burnout.

One manager cited the long hours, constant demands, and physical strain as reasons for leaving, concluding that the pay wasn't enough to justify the stress. High manager turnover is particularly detrimental for Walmart.

Unlike some competitors, Walmart heavily promotes from within, with roughly 75 per cent of its field management team starting as hourly employees, according to Revelio Labs' Yan. This internal focus on promotion means that departing managers take years of accumulated institutional knowledge, creating a significant setback for the company.

Beyond store operations, managers often function as both CEOs of a small business and local community leaders. Their departure represents a loss not just for the company but also for the surrounding community. "I think you can run for mayor if you're a Walmart store manager," Romero said.

Doug McMillon's story is a testament to the opportunities for advancement at Walmart. In 1984, he began his career unloading trucks for $6.50 an hour. Today, he leads the company as CEO. McMillon's path exemplifies Walmart's commitment to promoting from within.