Learning & Development

Walmart Touts New Education Benefit for Employees

In a recent press release, Walmart spreads the word about its new employee benefit program aimed at providing employees with greater access to education.

benefits

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“In partnership with Guild Education, a leading education benefits platform, Walmart associates will be able to access affordable, high-quality associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business or Supply Chain Management,” according to the press release.
The training is being made available to Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the United States. Walmart’s investment in subsidizing the program represents the equivalent of about $1 a day, according to the release. The program includes degrees offered by the University of Florida, Brandman University, and Bellevue University.

A Tailored Curriculum

Walmart says it selected the participating universities for a reason. They focused on universities specializing in teaching adult learners—as well as those that had been able to demonstrate learning outcomes. In working with these schools, Walmart is tailoring curriculum content to address the skills needed by employees for current and potential future jobs.
The specific educational focus offered by Walmart (business and supply chain management) are clearly very relevant to its own business—Walmart became the retail cost leader in large part to its focus on efficient, low-cost supply chain management. But, there may be risks in such training.

The Risks of Training

One of the risks of training is that after they receive a newly earned and valued degree, employees might opt to look for jobs elsewhere. Walmart isn’t the only large employer taking this chance. Their program resembles Amazon’s recently rolled out program that similarly encourages employees to study subjects that could lead them to jobs outside of Amazon.
Amazon addressed the potential for employees taking their newfound talent elsewhere head on. As Amazon says on its website, “This program is peculiar (just like we are). In fact, it’s safe to say you won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else. We exclusively fund education only in areas that are in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.”
The benefit to both Walmart and Amazon in offering employees greater access to higher education—even if that could mean those employees find jobs elsewhere—is that they are offering employees something they want in order to set themselves apart from other employers in a tough job market for employers.
It may well be a risk worth taking.