Wal-Mart is making some major changes to improve working conditions for its store employees.
The company is relaxing its dress code, giving stores control over their thermostats, and changing the music selection played in stores to include less Justin Bieber and Celine Dion.
The changes were announced Wednesday at a meeting between executives and store workers in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Fortune reports.
Here are some more details on the changes:
1. On the dress code: Wal-Mart will now allow store associates to wear black or khaki-coloured denim, according to Fortune. Employees working in the back of the store and doing more physical labour — like unloading trucks — will be able to wear blue jeans.
Workers were furious when the company changed its dress code last year to include white or navy collared shirts with khaki or black pants, closed-toe shoes, and an updated royal blue Wal-Mart-branded vest.
Dozens of employees told Business Insider that they couldn’t afford to buy clothes that fit the requirements. Workers doing heavy lifting complained that they couldn’t wear jeans, while others argued that a new dress code wouldn’t address the myriad of problems they said were plaguing their stores, such as “severe” understaffing, empty shelves, lack of air conditioning, and broken equipment.
2. On store temperature: Wal-Mart will now give give stores control over their thermostats. The company previously controlled the temperature of all the stores from its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
That led to a lot of problems during summer months.
“The temperature is ridiculous, it’s always hot and humid, many of us are sweating within the first hour of our shifts, and halfway through many of us feel sick,” a 10-year associate at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Maine told Business Insider last year.
3. On the music selection: The company will stop playing the same CDs on the loudspeakers over and over. Employees had complained about hearing too much Justin Bieber and Celine Dion.
“The company is bringing back Radio Walmart, meaning an actual DJ will keep things fresh, rather than playing the same handful of CD’s over and over, and driving countless associates (and customers, too, probably) batty,” Fortune’s Phil Wahba writes.
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