This question was one of the ones asked in the interview request from thewritingonthewal.net. I thought it was just too long to post with the rest, so I'm doing it as a separate post.
7. What do you think of the new computerized scheduling system?
Objectively, it looks like it should work. Which is why Bentonville and the high-priced consultants who came up with it are so positive on it.
When I was a supervisor, I would do the schedule when someone was one vacation and it would take hours to schedule all the cashiers, cart pushers, door greeters and everyone else on the front end. Think about doing that for all the sales associates -- hours and hours of work - time that should be spent doing something else other than making out a schedule each week.
Allegedly, Target's computer does all the stores for the entire company in six hours. Yes. And Target is only open from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Wal-Mart is much, much more complicated.
Logistically, the whole scheduling process probably won't work smoothly, at least not right off the bat, because of a myriad of practical concerns that people who have never spent time actually managing a store have no concept of.
I know that thewritingonthewal.net, among others, has taken Wal-Mart to task over the schedules, particularly over the "availability" issue.
Availability is when you're "available" to work. And there are a bunch of associates making a lot of noise in the press about the new schedules and how they have been "forced" to change their availability.
Let me just say that I personally have never had this happen, and during the three two-hour-long meetings my store had about this, every management team member was very clear about this: "You can keep your availability the way it is. However, we cannot and will not guarantee you the same number of hours." We were also told that we will have to fill out sheets with our "available hours" and our "preferred hours," although I've not yet seen either sheet.
Every sales floor associate was also offered cashier training if they wanted extra hours to reach a full 40 hours a week. Our store is so under-staffed that everyone gets 40 hours a week anyway.
Personally, AND I WANT TO STRESS THAT THIS IS JUST MY OPINION, (and I feel dirty, because it is a very Republican opinion), I feel that if you really need a job that only lets you work certain hours, you need to go out and find that job. I don't see where Wal-Mart is obligated to give it to you. BUT THIS IS JUST MY OPINION.
There are other issues at play though, particularly at stores with lots of associate turnover and job-swapping and with a stupid personnel manager.
The short version of the main problem is something called "job codes." For instance, we've got a man who went from being a cashier on the front registers to being what's called the "Pharmacy OTC" or pharmacy over-the-counter technician -- or basically the pharmacy cashier. But nobody did anything to change his job code in the computer. Whatever manager does his schedule knows his name and just schedules him to work during the hours the pharmacy is open.
The computer in Bentonville doesn't know this man from Adam. All it is going to see is a cashier who can work from 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. and start assigning hours. And not even for the correct job. He might be scheduled to work at 7 a.m. - when the Pharmacy is not open. And he might be scheduled to work for the noon - 9 p.m. shift -- when they need a Pharmacy cashier at 8 a.m.
It's like that all over the store. Produce associates who switch to softlines. Cashiers who move to sales associate spots. Right now they're supposedly "fixing" all our job codes so that the computer can schedule.
And none of it is going to make any difference if there aren't enough people to work at the stores. Every Saturday and every Sunday you see every CSM and every assistant manager on a register at our store, plus all the other register-trained associates, while one co-manager goes nuts trying to run the front end.