{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Ch 4 - i i l EMPLOYEES With nearly 1.4 million workers...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: i i l , EMPLOYEES? With nearly 1.4 million workers domestically, Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States. Wal~Mart is also the nation's number one, retailer in terms of sales, registering nearly $379 billion inSales revenue for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2008. Wal—Mart achieved its lofty status through a combination of low prices and low Operational costs, enabled by a superb continuous inventory replenishment system. .‘ I Now Wal-Mart is trying to lower costs further by changing its methods for scheduling the work shifts of its employees. In early 2007, Wal-Mart revealed that it was adopting a computerized scheduling system, a move that has been roundly criticized by workers’ rights advocates for the impact it may have on employees’ lives. Traditionally, scheduling employee shifts at big box storessuch as Wal-Mart was the domain of store managers who arranged schedules manually. They based their decisions in part on current store promotions as well as on weekly sales data from the previous year. Typically, the process required a full day of effort for a store manager Multiply that labor intensity by the number of stores in a chain and you have an expensive task with results that are marginally beneficial to the company. By using a computerized scheduling system, such as the system'from Kronos that Wal-Mart adopted, a retail enterprise can produce work schedules for every store in its chain in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, store managers can devote their time to running their individual stores more effectively. - TheKr-onos scheduling system tracks individual store sales, transactions, units sold, and customer traffic. The system logs these metrics over 15-minute increments for seven weeks at a time, and then measuresthem against the same data from the previous year. It can also integrate data such as the number of in—store customers at certain hours or the average time required to sell a television set or unload a truck and predict the number of workers needed'at any given hour. “A typical result of this type of scheduling might call for a sparse staff early in the day, a significant increase for the midday msh, scaling back toward the end of the afternoon, and then fortifying the staff FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING AT WAL—MART: GOOD DR BAD FDR once again for an evening crowd. Howaver, for a chain like Wal-Mart, which operates thousands of 24- hour stores and has also run into trouble previously for its labor practices, the transition to a computer- ized scheduling system has resulted in controversy. For Wal—Mart, using Kronos translates to improved productivity and customer satisfaction. Management reported a lZ—perccnt gain in labor productivity in the quarter ending January 31, 2008. For Well—Mart employees, known to the company as associates, the change may decrease the stability of their jobs and, possibly, create financial hardship. The scheduling generated by Kronos can be unpre— dictable, requiring associates to be more flexible with their work hours. Stores may ask them to be on call in case of a rush, or to go home during a slow spell. Irregular hours, and inconsistent paychecks, make it more difficult for employees to organize their lives, from scheduling babysitters to paying bills. Alerts from the system may also enable store managers to avoid paying overtime or full—time wages by cutting back the hours of associates who are approaching the thresholds that cause extra benefits to kick in. Associates are almost always people who need all the work they can get. According to Paul Blank of the Web site WakeUpWalMart. com, which is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, “What the computer is trying to optimize is the most number of part—time and least number of full-time workers at lowor labor costs, with no regard for the effect that it has on workers’ lives." Sarah Clark, speaking on behalf of Wal-Mart, insists the system’s goal is simply to improve customer service by shortening checkout lines and better meeting the needs of shoppers. To assist in the deployment of its computerized schedulin‘g'system in all of its stores, Wei-Mart requests that its aSSOCiates submit “personal availabil- ity" forms. Language on the form instructs associates that “Limiting your personal availability may restrict the number ‘of hours you are scheduled. ” Anecdotal evidence suggests that some workers have indeed seen their hours out and their shifts bounced around. Experienced associates with high pay rates have expressed concern that the system enables managers to pressure them into quitting. If they are unwilling : asPr to work nights and weekends, managers have a justification for replacing them with new workers who will make much less per hour. Sarah Clark denies that the system is used in this manner. Critics of the system can cite the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which states, “The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce." No legal battles over computerized scheduling appear imminent, so interpreting whether Wal-Mart's strategy equals treating its labor force as a commod- ity will have to wait. CASE STUDY QUESTIONS 1. What is the ethical dilemma facing Wal—Mart in this case? Do Wal—Mart‘s associates also face an ethical dilemma? If so, what is it? 2, What ethical principles apply to this case? How do - they apply? 3. What are the potential effects of computerized scheduling on employee morale? What are the 7 consequences of these effects for Wal-Mart? Chapter 4 Ethical and Social Issues in Information Systems 149 In the meantime, Wal-Mart is once again at the forefront of technology trends in its industry. Ann Taylor Stores, Limited Brands Gap, Williams- Sonoma, and GameStop have all installed similar workforce scheduling systems. Sources: Vanessa O’Connell, “Retailers Reprogram Workers in Efficiency Push,” The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2008; Kris Maher, “Wei-Mart Seeks New Flexibility in Worker Shifts," The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2007; www.kronos.com, accessed July 15, 2008,- Bob Evans, “Wat-Matt’s Latest 'Omellian' Thchnology Move: Get Over it," InfbrmafionWeek, April 8, 2007 and “More Opinions on Wal-Mart’s Flexible Scheduling,” InfbrmationWeek, April 17, 2007. M13 IN ACTION Visit the Web site at www.WakeUpWalMart.com and then answer the following questions: 1 What are this group’ s major points of contention with Wal-Mart? ' 2. How well does the Web site serve their cause? Does the site help their cause or hurt it? 3 What other approach could the organization take to bring about change? ' ' Using Wal- Matt’s Web site and Google for research, answer the following questions: 4. How does Wal- Mart address the issues raised by organizations such as. WakeUpWalMart. com? 5. Aretheicompany’ 3 methods effective? 6. If you were a public relations expert advising Wal-Mart, what suggestions would you make for handling criticism? Repetitive stress injury (R81) is the leading occupa~ tional disease today. The single largest cause of R81 is computer keyboard work. ...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern