Big Bad Walmart – Essay

The competitive landscape is changing the methods in which the businesses are conducted all over the world. Employees are considered as the backbone of the companies. The changing business environment has spurred the management of companies to find new ways in order to make the employees more efficient and productive. Market performance of such giant as Wal-Mart suggests that outsourcing is not the best way for the country’s economy. In general, the benefits of outsourcing are becoming well known, particularly in light of the HR priorities and objectives (strategic focus, flexibility, cost-containment, and service). Out­sourcing can help minimize costs by externalizing routine or low value administrative tasks; thereby enabling HR departments to focus more on value-creating activities an organization cannot perform internally. On the other hand, the general rate of poverty has a negative impact consumers and their socio-economic state. It was found that “the presence of Wal-Mart unequivocally raised family poverty rates in US counties during the 1990s relative to places that had no such stores” (Goetz, Swaminathan, 2004, p.12). This process can be explained that consumer products are probably more sensitive to demographic differences. Consumers should ignore Wal-Mart because its recent policy has an extremely negative impact on unemployment rate and poverty. ”Wal-Mart has actively forced the shipping of American jobs to China and elsewher” (National and Local Ads, 2005). These facts suggest that for Wal-Mart outsourcing is not a marketing strategy only, but a way of business which restructures traditional business of the whole country. In this case, the best solution for Wal-Wart is to buy national products only delivering high quality goods to the end-consumer. A “Buy American” solution is not a new approach which successfully functioned during several years. Also, increased purchasing from foreign sources (namely China) is not the best way to deliver better quality and more advanced technology.

Big Bad Walmart

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The facts mentioned above suggest that Wal-Mart should change its current policy towards labor which has a great influence on well-being of employees. This strategy is based on social corporate responsibility of the company aimed to meet social requirements and ethical norms. The attitude of Wal-Mart to labor is at the core of the social responsibility of management. Workers have become better protected, e.g. collective bar­gaining has given more security to workers, Staff Status schemes and the Redundancy Payments Act are for the benefit of the workers. Management must give a lead in these matters and the government periodically ‘exhorts’ industry to do things which would aid the country socially, for example the location of new companies in development areas. (Wal-Mart’s healthcare policy rapped, 2005).

As any other organization, Wal-Mart cannot exist in isolation from the society. The principal duty of the company is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employ­ees. Maryland’s decision towards Wal-Mart is based on generally accepted ethics and social corporate responsibility which requires every employer, having regard to the nature and size of the undertaking, effec­tively to plan, organize, control, monitor and review the protective and pre­ventive measures which the risk assessment identifies as being appropriate. As these are specific requirements they should be integrated into existing healthcare policies. Also, healthcare support from the company is crucial for many employees who “earn far below the poverty line” ” (Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights, 2006). For instance, “in 2001, sales associates, the most common job in Wal-Mart, earned on average $8.23 an hour for annual wages of $13,861. The 2001 poverty line for a family of three was $14,630” (Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights, 2006).  Whether or not the purpose of an organization is to make a profit, employ­ers are continually under pressure to ensure that resources are fully utilized and labor costs are stabilized or reduced. Workpeople have different inter­ests. Their main concern is to maintain and improve their standard of living. They seek improvements in wages and salaries, increased leisure, better working conditions, stability of employment, opportunities for advancement and satisfaction in their work. It is possible to refute all those arguments stating that the government holds responsibility to fund and prove healthcare to Americans, but if the company like Wal-Mart pays very low wages below the poverty line, it should be responsible for healthcare and well-being of employees.

Taking into account these facts and present day situation, it is possible to say that increased regulation, monitoring and research are imbued with a sense of urgency and, also disbelief that, to date, so little is known and even less has been done to protect Wal-Mart employees. The company owes to ensure safety of employees, fair wages and promotion. Today, there is a strong tendency is for societies to demand that companies act with increasing concern for the overall societal and environmental needs, as well as economic needs. On the other hand, employees are responsible to be professional and knowledgeable in their field. Although interests are not usually the same, especially when technological and industrial changes keep occurring con­stantly, there is one common point of interest between employers and employees, and that is to ensure continuity of production and hence employ­ment – to keep the enterprise viable. In general, social responsibility involves strict guidelines which determine moral and social obligations companies should follow (Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights, 2006).

In sum, Wal-Mart should change its current labor policies which affect American population in many ways. The principal duty which lays on employers is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employ­ees. A series of slightly more precise duties follow, dealing with, for instance, plant and systems of work, handling and storage of materials. In all cases, however, the duty is qualified by the phrase ‘reasonably practicable’.


References

  1. Goetz, S.J., Swaminathan, H. Wal-Mart and County-Wide Poverty. 2004. Available at: www.cecd.aers.psu.edu/pubs/PovertyResearchWM.pdf
  2. National and Local Ads Challenge Wal-Mart’s Outsourcing for Jobs. 2005. Available at: http://walmartwatch.com/press/releases/national_and_local_ads_challenge_wal_marts_outsourcing_of_american_jobs/
  3. Wal-Mart’s healthcare policy rapped. The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005. Available at: http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/06/23/wal_marts_healthcare_policy_rapped/
  4. Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights 2006. Available at: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/facts/

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