I was in line at the Starbucks earlier this week and saw the picture from this article and the word WAL-MART in the headline but never got to a library to look it up.
Three words: Public. Relations. Stunt.
Wal-Mart got some bad mojo in the PR department lately, so they got to trot whoever and whatever out to make it seem like they're NOT the devil. Please. The current and immediate past crop of Wal-Mart executives are eventually going to be the ruling class of hell. Satan is right now building a bunker and asking Eva Braun "How do you make cement look homey?"
But I digress. There are a couple of misspoken truths in the article. Chiefly that Wal-Mart associates do not already get a discount at whatever fast-food place is in their store.
We do. Ten percent, same as our associate discount. There's a McDonald's in the SuperCenter I work at, although some older stores had Blimpies or a plain snack bar staffed by Wal-Mart employees.
And the McDonald's had to institute a policy that associates ONLY got the discount if they were working that day because people would roll up with their whole family any old time and order a messs of food and ask for the discount. So now we have to actually be in acceptable Wal-Mart dress code and either wearing or carrying our smock to get the discount.
And we used to get free refills all day, but they actually stopped that AND stopped selling drinks at the registers becuase people stole the cups and just walked into the McDonald's and said "The machine in the store is broke."
Here's some more thoughts.
I'm not going to bring my personal mug to Wal-Mart in order to create a "trash-free" break room. I don't hate any of the people I work with, but I don't want to drink after any of them. Nor do I want to play "Find-A-Mug" when I want a cup of coffee before I start my shift at 7 a.m.
This gem of a program has got ultimately got nothing to do with the environment and EVERYTHING to do with cash. Styrofoam, paper and plastic recycles. Wal-Mart just doesn't want to lay out for cups for associates. 400 associates per store times xxx number of paper cups times 365 days a year - it starts to add up when you have 6000 stores!
If the Wal-Mart wants me to be "personally sustainable," the Wal-Mart will start treating me with some respect. It will staff stores properly, train the staff it hires and ensure that the idiot managers do not undercut, lie to and de-empower employees at every opportunity. It will not ask salaried managers to work a 52-hour work week. Even the ones with half a brain can't keep that up for any length of time.
You will keep the bathrooms, all two of them, plus the family bathroom, clean and well stocked with toilet paper, paper towels and soap. You will hire more than the one poor, tired beat-down, flashback-having-looking man who cleans the bathrooms now. Is it SO FREAKING HARD to recognize that increased customer traffic means that the bathrooms are going to get nasty?
The company's poor decisions, made solely in pursuit of cash and at the expense of workers, create the stress in my workplace. If you want "personally sustainable" workers, you're going to have to do a lot more than get me to walk around the store, stretch and sing "Kumbaya."
In other words, don't make make it a bad place to work, and it won't be a bad place to work.