|Image courtesy of HuffPost|
I recently read an article about a new dress code being imposed on Wal-Mart employees (effective later this month). The purpose of the new dress code is to help customers more-easily identify employees. I don't have a problem with that; given my recent experiences in a few different stores, more stores could benefit from this.
Unfortunately, some employees are groaning because the dress code - which consists of white or navy blue collared shirts, khaki or black pants, closed-toe shoes, and a royal blue Wal-Mart vest - is not being subsidized by Wal-Mart. In other words, employees need to buy the clothes, and Wal-Mart will provide the vest. For part-time, minimum wage employees, this could pose a financial hardship.
The article went on to say that this isn't the first time in recent years that Wal-Mart has imposed a dress code (It doesn't say, but apparently those didn't work?) and that there are other issues Wal-Mart should address, like understaffed stores and product shortages.
Reading the article, I stopped and wondered what was really going on. And wondered if this is a more-pervasive problem, not just one for Wal-Mart. I started to ask some questions:
- Is there perhaps a misguided focus on what's important to the customer? Is the issue identifying who's an associate? Or is the issue really that there aren't enough associates to begin with?
- Have they made these changes because of what they've heard from customers?
- And relative to other improvement priorities, was this one most important?
- Or did they just go for low-hanging fruit that costs little to Wal-Mart but puts the (financial) burden on the employees instead?
- Are they making improvements in one area to the detriment of another?
- Are they making improvements for one constituent (customer) to the detriment of another (employee)?
- What's really important to their customers?
- What's most important to the employee experience and employee happiness?
- Are there other underlying issues that should be addressed first?
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. -George Bernard Shaw