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Walmart Wants Workers to Choose Their Own Hours

Walmart made another major change to its operations.

Customer First Scheduling, a new software system for scheduling staff, launched in 650 of the retailer’s smaller Neighborhood Markets in the last week of July, Reuters reported, with plans to eventually implement it throughout its 4,600-plus store base.

Developed in partnership with Red Prairie, the electronic system analyzes foot traffic and sales data from every department in each store in order to prioritize scheduling for peak hours. Workers are then assigned to shifts in order of importance. It also provides more certainty over hours, even allowing some employees to set their schedules for up to six months out.

“If customers are coming in at a different time we have to be there at a different time. We will not last very long if we don’t do that,” Mark Ibbotson, vice president of central operations, told Reuters. “Associates have the option to choose what hours they want and see if they are available.”

The new scheduling system is not a silver bullet, however. Reuters heard that teething problems have included no cashiers on a roster until mid-morning one day at one location and no staff scheduled at all until 1 p.m. on another day.

In addition, some labor groups that have lobbied for more predictable schedules have said that it still doesn’t address the problem of insufficient hours.

The move follows the wage hike that more than 1.2 million Walmart and Sam’s Club employees received in February, the second phase of a previously announced plan to invest $2.7 billion in the retailer’s workforce.