Associate engagement: Building a culture of respect
In 2011 Shelley Broader began her new role, as President and CEO of Walmart Canada by saying, “I have 87,000 bosses.” It’s a statement right in keeping with Sam Walton’s original philosophy of servant leadership – the idea that effective leaders don’t lead from behind a desk but work alongside everyone else as part of a team. This philosophy is integral to the Walmart mindset and a big reason why our culture is so different. We are also firm advocates for transparency within our organization as shown in the fundamental set of policies and practices below.
Open Door Policy
Our Open Door Policy upholds our culture of respect and transparency by providing associates a standing invitation to speak to any manager in their store or department or any other manager in the organization – including our CEO – anytime. We welcome associates ideas, questions and concerns and see the Open Door as an opportunity to help us understand where and how we can improve as a team and a business. Open Doors are a cornerstone of our culture and a priority at every level of our business; we take them very seriously and make sure to respond to issues quickly.
Engaging our associates
“Associates” are not workers, or employees. Associates are partners in running our business, who make a difference every day. Their thoughts and ideas matter. We strive to ensure that Walmart associates have a strong voice at work.
Associate Opinion Survey
Integral to our culture is Respect for the individual; it defines us. It makes us different. Associate engagement is near and dear to our hearts. We know engagement rises when people feel they’re part of something great.
Each year, Walmart Canada conducts our Associate Opinion Survey (AOS), giving a voice to more than 87,000 of our associates from across the country. Their responses provide an invaluable opportunity for us to learn about our business and concerns from the associate’s perspective.
And the process doesn’t stop there.
We take action: Through feedback from the survey, we plan and implement programs that help us improve our business and make Walmart a great place to work. The process is working because between 2008 and 2011, our level of associate engagement climbed thirteen points from 56 to 69 per cent.
Associates also participate in grassroots meetings throughout the year where they can bring forward questions, ideas and concerns to their management team for discussion.
Associate satisfaction and unions
Walmart Canada believes in providing associates with a work environment based on respect, dignity and a true partnership in the business. We foster an environment that welcomes the identification of challenges or problems and a mutual resolution of those challenges.
As a company, we value our associates’ right to communicate any and all concerns they have directly to their supervisor, who must quickly work to a fair and proper resolution. Our culture of open communication is important to meeting our associates’ needs. The key to preserving the climate in which we conduct our business is to always uphold the beliefs upon which Walmart was founded.
Walmart Canada also supports and respects our associates’ right to exercise freedom of association, including the decision to join or not to join a union. Associates have the legal right to make such choices, free from intimidation, coercion or undue influence from anyone.