Retail behemoth takes L&D to the next level

by Brett Henebery23 Mar 2017
A successful businessman once said: “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish”.

His name was Sam Walton, the founder of what would one day become the world’s largest retail empire.

Walton understood that staff training is at the heart of not only a harmonious workplace, but also the financial outcomes it delivers. And this way of doing business is certainly working out well for the organisation.

Walmart makes $485bn a year and employs more than 2.3 million staff worldwide – half of whom are based in the US. Each week, nearly 260 million customers and members visit Walmart’s 11,535 stores under 72 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries.

Last year, with the aim of further enhancing the learning and development of its staff, Walmart opened a training academy in South Carolina – the first of 200 more to come. The organisation expects about 140,000 people to be trained at the academies each year, providing them with targeted training on the skills they need.

The training academies are dedicated facilities located in, or adjacent to, one of Walmart’s Supercentres.

Inside, supervisors and department managers receive two weeks of hands-on training that combines both the classroom and the sales floor.
During the first week, staff are taught the basics of retail, while the second week encompasses training on the floor. Graduates complete work in leadership, merchandising, operations, technology and customer service.
“The academies are aimed at creating a better and more consistent customer experience. It's the sort of thing Sam Walton [Walmart’s founder] would have approved of,” John Tow, a regional general manager with Walmart, told
“Skills training increases productivity, confidence and knowledge which leads to greater job satisfaction, personal and professional growth and helps make working at Walmart a smart career choice.”

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