Sunday, January 29, 2006

Scheduling Hell

I knew it was coming, but it was annoying nonetheless. When my two week training period ended, so too did my schedule being pegged to that of my mentor. Gone were the 5 consecutive 9 hour days followed by the “weekend,” albeit on Monday and Tuesday. In its place was a much more hellish schedule that I knew to be more typical at WAL-MART.

While every week varied wildly, there were several common characteristics from week to week. First off, despite only being “part-time” I was scheduled five days a week with only one exception. What this meant was that more often than not I would have to drive an hour roundtrip for less than a full shift; especially popular was scheduling four hours in the middle of the day, which are barely worth the cost of gas. Secondly, these two days off were hardly ever back to back. At one point I went for 32 days without getting a WAL-MART weekend, meaning any two consecutive days off.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, was the stores propensity to schedule short turn-arounds; working late one night only to be in early the next morning. It was common place to hear of door guards working past 11:00 pm and starting again the following day at 7:00 am. While I never had a turn-around quite that bad, I would work past midnight and have to be in at 9:30 am. Factor in extra time to clock out and in, a half-hour commute both ways, and time to prepare for work the next morning, even if you go straight to bed you are lucky to get seven hours sleep.

So here is what all of that looks like:
Saturday 5:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sunday 6:00 pm – 1:15 am
Monday Off
Tuesday 9:45 am – 6:45 pm
Wednesday 4:00 pm – 11:45 pm
Thursday 9:45 am – 6:45 pm
Friday Off

And another example:
Saturday 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday Off
Monday 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Tuesday 3:00 pm – 12:00 am
Wednesday 6:15 pm – 11:00 pm
Thursday 2:00 pm – 8:45 pm
Friday Off

WAL-MART eagerly admits that “For years we have had a scheduling system in place that is designed to match associates’ work schedules to projected customer flow to our stores.” But this justification doesn’t explain the lack of consideration to the person who then has to rearrange their life to this clockwork. My being scheduled until 11:45 pm on a Wednesday night and in Thursday morning at 9:45 am has nothing to do with the demands of customers; believe me, it was as dead as could be at 10 pm that Wednesday. No, WAL-MART illustrates an utter lack of concern for the lives of its associates because it has an utter lack of concern for the lives of its associates. Many of my fellow associates blame their hellish schedule on “a computer down in Bentonville.” As far as I can discern this is true, since the home office seems to design a template outlining how many associates are needed when.

The maddening aspect of all this is how actual people are lost in the shuffle. If WAL-MART cared even a little bit about the people who work for them, they would put a little bit of effort into building reasonable schedules. While the company no doubt appreciates the flexibility that not caring gives them, it is hardly so important of a benefit that renders ruining a workers life necessary. And if you think I am being melodramatic here remember that many WAL-MART employees must also juggle childcare, try to work in second jobs or classes, and hopefully find a few minutes to spend time with their equally busy loved ones. Ultimately this approach benefits no one in the long run since it greatly contributes to employee dissatisfaction and eventually turnover. Indeed, if the company ever wanted to remake its image through deeds rather than just words, and care for its employees, revamping its hellish scheduling system would be a fine place to start.

42 comments:

grande t said...

An Associate,

I wonder if something besides the lack of concern or lack of consideration that you cite is at play here. The work schedules of associates seem more erratic than flexible. As you note, it’s difficult to hold down another part-time job, or attend school, or pick up your child from school if your schedule changes every day and every week. And this scheduling is hardly unique to Walmart: it’s commonplace in larger retail stores.

But why? Wouldn’t it be easier for retail stores to develop at least somewhat regular schedules for their employees? It might be too much to expect enlightened self-interest out of the retail giants-- e.g., give your employees regular schedules that allow them to manage their lives around work and they will reward you by being better employees. But, lordy, why this constant schedule-making?

I’m not hinting at anything nefarious. I simply don’t know why this is.

BTW, this is a stunningly good blog. I expected as much. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Whaddaya wanna bet the Bentonville bastards have better work schedules and get better pay than the retail employees.

You want to get the straight skinny on Wal-Mart, move to Bentonville and work at headquarters. Do that and you can get rid of both your troublesomely long commute and the high cost of heating oil in the winter.

Anonymous said...

as a csm at a wal-mart i couldnt agree with you anymore. this is so right on point and i have always wondered was this the same everywhere guess so

Anonymous said...

okay i work at wal-mart and have read almost every single post. For one-- have you ever talked to management about it? I know so many coworkers of mine who have weird schedules because they ASKED for those certain times to work.

If you have talked to management about it, perhaps you should be complaining about your management team instead of the the Wal-Mart company as a whole.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things I absolutely hate about working there. But think about WHAT or WHO you hate, and who is responsible for what's making you angry instead of solely basing it on the company itself.

I'm an overnight stocker, and I hate how we get yelled at every single time we have a 4000 piece truck and don't get it done, or don't get the floor zoned by the time we go home. But that's not Wal-Mart's fault. That's whoever is too stupid to realize that we are just five people working one side of the entire store and we'd have to be superman to get all of that done.

Honestly.
Think about what you're saying for two seconds.

Not all Wal-Mart's are as bad as yours. It all depends on your management team, and whether or not they should be there in the first place.

Mommy1523 said...

Sooo...I've read almost all of your blogs and now I have a few things I want to get straight. Do you mean to tell me that Wal-Mart had the audacity to conduct an interview to try to learn about your personality, desire to work, work ethic,and goals for the future? Who do those personnel managers they think they are, with all their questions trying to determine if you are trustworthy and honest? They act like they work for the biggest money-making cosporation on the planet or something. Please!

Then, after giving you a job, they had the NERVE to require you to WORK while on the clock and wouldn't even let you roam around inside and outside of the store to fetch jackets, sweaters, and drinks? I mean, really- it's not like you were supposed to be protecting a cash register full of hundreds of dollars or something, the least they could let you do is take an extra break! What would it hurt if every cashier decided to walk outside for a few minutes to get a sweater. The customers wouldn't mind waiting for you to get back!

And to add fuel to the fire, Wal-Mart not only requires you to work at one cash register, but also ask you to MOVE AROUND so that other employees can have a break or lunch? Really? Shouldn't they care more about YOU as an individual instead of asking YOU to care about your fellow co-workers? It's not YOUR job to care about anyone else in the store, right?

And to top it all off, they have all these ridiculous policies that prevent people from stealing their merchandise. I mean, seriously... they make more money than God, couldn't they just look the other way when someone wants to return a Christmas tree they couldn't afford but wanted (and used) anyway? Couldn't they just let it slide when customers slip a $200 digital camera into their cart after paying for their $34 worth of groceries and walking away from the register? Is it really that big a deal? No need to call the police...it was just a one time thing... one time, several times a day, in every single store across the globe.

Seriously...maybe you should consider calling Dateline or 20/20. Or maybe even think about working somewhere else. This evil corporation obviously doesn't consider your feelings when making its policies, running its business, or making work schedules. I bet they don't even take the time to ask each of the hundreds of store associates if the schedule would work for them. I bet they didn't even let you fill out an application with an entire section devoted to "HOURS YOU WISH TO WORK." AND I bet you haven't even been offered a raise...and you, of all people, obviously deserve one, what with your loyalty to the company and obvious desire to help the customer while helping the company make money so that they may pass along savings to aforementioned customers. What they SHOULD be doing is holding your hand and begging for your forgiveness, for they have obviously not treated YOU with the respect you deserve.

Anonymous said...

This is to mommy1523

What are you? Let me guess a manager at a walmart? Unless you have been in this situation, you should not put down what people go thru. Walmart IS unfair to its workers on all aspects.

How can a person who works there and has boosted sales in a department that make the managers good bonuses, get told 2 times in one night that he is fired by his supervisor, and for that supervisor to wirte him up for really stupid stuff, not to go by the availability to work, and when this employee asked why they were being written up they were told to make a paper trail.

So you just keep believing how "great" they are

Anonymous said...

My friend works at walmart and he is often scheduled one night to work 12pm-9pm then come back in to open 4am-1pm. Walmart is a crazy place.

I know your blog is old but it is so true! I wish that more people would read it and see how horrible they are to their employees.

Anonymous said...

Um yeah that scheduling thing has not changed, nothing is consistant in Walmart. Everytime I get a newbie who talks about how they need this set schedule, i tell them then you dont want to work back here 'cause its not going to happen.

by the way I do agree partly with mommy there...

So lets not call it walmart for a second and assume that you own a buisness and you hire some people and they are lazy and just diappear and roam all the time so you take a little extra precaution in not assuming to waste your time and say you are hiring for temps and so you then you'll decide at the end of the temp period (which by the way a temp in our store has never been for any of reason besides remodeling and busy season)
if that job is really needed or you really need any help at all, thats a terrible thing? I mean if I owned a store, i'd rather say hey we are gonna hire you just for a little while or if things go well, it could be longer, then to say hey your fired because we dont need your help after all...

Fellow Associate Store #2046 said...

A friend sent me to your blog today, telling me I just HAD to see what store you worked at and SURPRISE! it's the same one I've had the joy of being employed at!

I have availability of 7am-9pm friday-monday because I'm a part time worker who lives an hour away (and drives right by Mount Vernon every day) and I'm a full time student. I feel your pain of 4 hour shifts that aren't worth the drive. I get scheduled them quite often.

I digress. I was scheduled blatantly against my availability on multiple occasions, during times I have class. This means someone on the fabulous management team overrode my schedule. So I'm scheduled during my classes.

Personnel even lost my availability change sheet... twice.

I was told by a manager that I wouldn't get any hours. The same manager walked by me, didn't say anything to me, then used the store wide walkie talkies to yell at me, instead of stopping privately when walking by. This same manager threatened my job.

Thank god managers rotate departments and I'm almost rid of him/her! Like you said previously in the blog... the only saving grace is the other employees. Thankfully I work with some that hate the store just as much as I do.

I'll be glad when I graduate college and can find a REAL job. Because believe me, a career at HellMart is just not going to cut it for me.

Aaron said...

In my Wal-Mart, we actually had a regular schedule for each associate in my department. I would work Saturday through Wednesday from 4-11. My coworkers in the department had similar schedules, enabling us to plan operations in the department and coordinate completion of tasks a lot better. Unfortunately, the manager who was overriding the computer to make such a schedule was told not to anymore. Official reason being that planned regular schedules are "against company policy"

Anonymous said...

At least you didn't have to work until 10:30pm then come back at 5am the next day! Or work 9 days straight!

pharmacy said...

Excellent post, I couldn't ignore those elements that you posted above.

Anonymous said...

try working 9 days, one day off, 8 days on.

Anonymous said...

I do understand what you are getting at, as I work as a cashier at WM also. I really hate the short turn arounds, too.

I also value having two days off in a row. However, I also know that 2 days "off" can fly by and 5 days "on" can drag. Working 3 days and having 1 day off has its own advantage's over a traditional work week.

Also, the schedule you posted featured Friday off, Saturday 6pm - 10pm, and Sunday off. That is just about as close to a 3 day weekend that you can get without having a 3 day weekend. You were scheduled for only 4 hrs on Saturday, late enough to be inconsequential to your "day" and ending early enough that you can still go out if you want to. And, off the next day. Pretty sweet, sorry.

As well, at my store, newer employees tend to have a more erratic schedule than those who have been there longer do. If you listed your availability as "open" in order to make yourself more hireable, then yes...you will be scheduled all over the place.

I'm not saying that working at Wal-Mart is easy street, but I am saying is that you are kind of whiny. Welcome to the real world.

viagra online said...

One thing for sure, we can get used to that kind of schedule. but after some time we start to feel pretty tire.

Anonymous said...

I have never worked at Wal Mart, but have been in management for over 20 years in a variety of stores. First of all, if you were so unhappy with WalMart and I was your manager, I would of encouraged you to find a job you were happy at. No one forced you to work there. And honestly I can say, if you were my employee, I probably would of been glad to see you go. I have read thru most of your blog and feel you mainly whine. EVERY job has its drawbacks, and employees who always feel they are being abused. You really need to grow up.
Second of all... Every business is striving to make a profit. Every business marks their goods up drastically. That is just business. You complain about a gross margin of 56% Do you ever wonder how much markup is on a bottle of water at your local convenience store? Most of the time it exceeds that 56%!!
Next regarding your schedule? Try working split shifts in a restaurant, working 10 hour days in the heat roofing, or working in a car wash trying to get hours when it rains, or is even just cloudy.
And lastly, whereas customer service is very important, many people try their best to get what they can from a business. Being in Customer Service for years, I have dealt with it all. The customer is not always right. You can only do so much, before that customer becomes a burden and you wish they would shop somewhere else.

Your blog is just a product of your generation, always expecting everything to be handed to you, not willing to work and apply yourself to be a good employee. WalMart is probably better off without you.

aqui said...

Pretty helpful data, thank you for the article.

high school teacher in Texas said...

My son was recently hired at Wal-mart. He just finished high school and was seeking part time employment that would fit around his college schedule.
(about 25-30 hrs per week). He got exactly what he requested from his initial availability sheet. He had requested not to start work before 4 p.m. and that he could work until 10:00 p.m Monday-Thursday. Then, on Friday that he could work until midnight, and anytime Sat. or Sunday. He has been there about three months now, and his two days off are always together and are usually weekdays. However, as a new hire, and as a teenager, this would be expected. He had also volunteered his flexibility on the weekends because that is what any employer would be looking for. I think you get what you ask for at WM and in life, as well. Make your concerns clear and quit all of the whining and complaining. Anyone who complains and carries on as much as you have done in this post, is going to projet that negativity everywhere you go, and it will discourage anyone from engaging in repeated contact with you. Your only satisfaction from work emanates from other employees that you claim are equally disgruntled. Be thankful that you have a job and seek employment elsewhere if you are dissatisfied. Change your attitude, though, or you will have the same results.

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what Mommy is saying. And yes, I AM in that position. And just for the record I'm not a member of management. Lol they wouldn't let me be a manager Cuz they know I would fuck their world up hah. But mommy does have quite a few good and truthful points. Sounds to me like this Guy is the problem, not Walmart. Though I am not defending Walmart, I hate working there, the blogger is melodramatic and twists what he says are rules and policies to seem worse towards him. I could list a lot of policies from the WIRE (Walmart Information Resource Engine. I think) of policies and rules that go against what he claims. The WIRE is like an encyclopedia for associates. It's like an intranet for Walmart stores.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I believe that. Legally you can't work more than 6 days in a row without one day off. The computer will not let them do it, plus it will pop up 2 alerts right in front of them when they try to finalize it that the infractions aren't allowed for more than a 6 day stretch. If the computer does somehow glitch and not catch it when it does it itself, you are to notify management about it,for if you don't, Walmart can get a hefty fine and you will most likely be fired because you had knowledge of the mistake and took no action to fix it within legal parameters.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have worked at Wal-Mart for about 8 months or so now, and as much as I'd like to agree I can't. Yes there are some downsides, the schedule, the pay, and lack of hours. But those are the only gripes you can make really.

My other complaints aren't complaints, but major suggestions. One, Wal-Mart associates seem to have their priorities in a jumble. As a front end cashier, if I walk up to you a CSM and you are doing something that may take 15 minutes, versus turning a key for approval of a coupon; I expect you to take the small thing first then continue. This way you are doing multiple things at once, making you a more efficient CSM. Two,take the extra step for the customer. My store is one that has an interview process but for some strange reason doesn't apply. I am surrounded by people who do nothing, or as little as possible. If you can run and do a price check faster than calling a CSM, paging the Dept., and then having them do it; you should. Three, the registers. The registers require you to bend over backwards to do simple things! This causes a customer's time to be wasted, and so they are unhappy customers.I get it people do bad things, but hire people who are honest and prosecute them when they aren't. Four, be happy. You have a job, you did not get put 6' under the ground, and you have infinite potential to have a good day. Look you can go to work dreading it, be miserable, and hate life in general or just enjoy your day. Don't take shit customers say personally, usually they are mad at something else (if not fuck 'em they aren't harming you). Five, general efficiency. Wal-Mart is generally an inefficient workplace. 3rd shift workers have a shit night because 1st doesn't zone. 3rd doesn't finish stocking or zoning, 1st now has double the load. If from the beginning both parties did their fair share, which I assure you they do not, there wouldn't be as much work.

Just be glad you have a job, and enjoy your life.

Anonymous said...

Youre a bitch, and you Have no fucking clue about shit. You're probably from corporate or shit. stupid bitch I'd like to see YOU working as a cashier or something else and I'd like to see YOU get treated like shit, just so YOU know how It feels.

Anonymous said...

I was recently scheduled to work ten days on, got one day off, and had to be at work at 4 a.m. the following morning for an eight day stretch at my Wal-Mart. Salaried managers have it much worse, though. They work twelve hour days and usually work well beyond 40 hours a week (around 70-90 during holidays).

Scheduling is so erratic that you cannot structure your life accordingly. Hours are cut so drastically after the holidays that most people just stop showing up, and Wal-Mart doesn't have to worry about firing anybody.

Pay is standard for retail, and the checks are decent. However, quality of life while working there is not achievable.

If you actually pay attention to the people who work at Wal-Mart you can see that many of these people are beaten down and just going through the motions. These are often good people who are just trying to get by, and have gotten trapped in the cycle of working for Wal-Mart.

Talking on message boards and the internet about working at Wal-Mart is easy to do. Everybody should have to work at Wal-Mart during the holidays just to get a taste of what it's really like.

Anonymous said...

I've been working for Wal-mart for nearly 5 years. I have wanted to quit in the future, but until I find another job, that simply has to wait.

In my first year there, I was also attending a community college for my associates degree. My terrible job on scheduling myself for school had be there for 13 hours a day, 2 days a week. Then the grueling drive home in an unreliable car.

Walmart and my racist manager decided that as a part time employee, I could work for 5 days a week, 9 hours a day. my only 2 days off being those 13 hour days at school.

I barely had time to write papers, and I began to falter in my classes. I became depressed and decided to stop trying after asking, and filling out 6 papers to change my schedule. Begging my racist manager to do so.

Finally, at the end of the semester, I was working less than I asked for. Only 4 days a week, 2 days being 4 hours a day. I ended up failing the semester, thanks to Walmart.

I said nothing and continued to work for them, until again, they pulled the same crap. I was in school and I couldn't keep up with the torture. I failed 2 of my classes, and was suspended from my college.

During my time from school, I worked my ass off to pay for it. TO try to redeem myself, yet not much time later, I hit another snag. My car broke down and I looked at the measly amount of money I had gained from working at walmart. Thankfully I had saved up every penny to be able to buy a car and pay for it in full. However, that's all the money I had. I had to sit out ANOTHER semester of school because I didn't have money.

But the time I've worked for the corporation known as Walmart, I have learned they are full of shit. I was harassed by a male associate, and upon telling the manager and being told it would be looked into - I was lied to. They told me, to my face that him rubbing his groin against my butt wasn't Sexual harassment.

Walmart lies, and Walmart cheats it's workers. Even their pin for "I GOT MY SHARE" is bullshit. While the big CEO gets a few million bonus, we get like $200 at most. That's isn't our share, we get crumbs from working our asses off. It's not fair.

Ashlie said...

My husband is an Assistant Manager and was just scheduled for a 10 day work week. We have 4 children under age 6 and 2 of them are special needs and this comes right at the time I need to be registering them for school. I'm already hating the retail world of walmart. He just transferred in from a DC and I can assure it's not like this in the Walmart DC's

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous - Quote: "Walmart lies, and Walmart cheats it's workers. Even their pin for "I GOT MY SHARE" is bullshit. While the big CEO gets a few million bonus, we get like $200 at most. That's isn't our share, we get crumbs from working our asses off. It's not fair."

I agree! I've worked at Walmart for 11 yrs. When bonus time comes we seldom get more than $80, if that, then they cut our hours for a month after to make up THEIR loss which ends up no bonus at all.

none ya said...

Be full time then u can talk. Part time employees get what they want scheduling wise cause there used for dumb shit around walmart. Trust me i see a lot of kids like that come and go all the time.

none ya said...

I do

none ya said...

U couldnt say it any better

none ya said...

True

Anonymous said...

This split scheduling is not good. working 930am to 3pm, one break. Clock out at 3pm come back at 4pm and work till 8pm. Thats way too many hours to work in one day. Who started this split shift stuff. What is that suppose to do?

Anonymous said...

I partly agree with mommy, but you know walmart does really suck a $$. like seriously, my management team couldn't be any more disorganized, unreliable, unapproachable and dishonest as it already is. They make promises and then act like they don't know what you're talking about, my manager is childish and will be petty if you tell the store manager about her mistakes (not kidding, she's been ignoring a friend of mine for weeks because she told the store manager that she didn't finish training us with the new policies, which she didn't), and they just don't know what they're doing. Booking days off is like entering Satan's asshole because they never want to do it, even if it's just one weekend. it's unfair and I hope not all walmarts are like this, but unfortunately mine is.

Anonymous said...

In general I agree that while your schedule can be tricky to work around, there are much harder work schedules to handle with other jobs. However, I take offense to the trite comment made calling your post an example of the younger generations. If anyone had things handed to them, such as affordable university level education and proportionally higher wages, along with social security, it's the generation of the purpose who made that tactless, idiotic comment.

But back to your post--I work at Walmart. Your scheduled workday can be at any time within your established availability. If you chose "open availability", you'll get schedules when they need you. I limited mine to a tighter range and don't have a schedule as erratic as yours. Sometimes how they schedule you isn't just about profit, but about having to work your availability around everyone else's. You should be able to talk to a manager and if you've worked at Walmart for six months, get them to change your availability to something more consistent.

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PADAM GHIMIREY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hi

Anonymous said...

The assistant manager had scheduled to close the deli many nights. This was unsafe to do. There were two deli associates that would work the closing shift. They would just leave the deli dirty until the next morning or have a support manager work the shift. Now I just feel like they would rather keep people out of work to save Walmart's money then just let them work there.

Unknown said...

I guess Massachusetts Walmart sucks but for me I love it! It's simple stuff, I go to school in the morning and go to work at 2-11pm, I can request how many days off I want from 2-3 days because I'm Part time. My supervisors are nice and friendly and my co workers are too.

Unknown said...

I've been working for Wal-Mart for a long time. I started out part-time, went to full-time, had children and went to part-time with a specific availability so I could care for my kids. I used to get great hours, about 32 per check which was perfect for me. Now, there's weeks where I don't get scheduled a single day. At the present time the schedule has been done up to the 24th of this month, I have a total of two days scheduled. I have been a loyal associate with no issues for over 20 years. I can't live like this. I have a family to take care of. Walmart has no regard or respect for its long-timers it seems.

Anonymous said...

Well for all of you that think Walnuts is a great place to work, for GOD's sake never get a professional position whee employees are not considered Overhead Cost Only! It will ruin your concept of the new “Coal Mines” of this era! I have been there 8 years just made $12.00 and hour. Found out the 19 year old they hired six months ago is earning $12.71!?? This company is totally out of touch with reality. Anyone not purchased by them will tell you the scheduling is designed for their advantage. In reality it is costing them BILLIONS in lost production and employee turnover.

Anonymous said...

your comment was completely irrelevant and had nothing to do with what the OP said. They have very valid points. My shitty ass walmart only cares about the managers bonusesand that you work your scheduled hours. even if that means you only work 15 hours in 2 weeks, they don't give a fuck about your or that you have a family to feed or bills to pay. Not all walmarts are as shitty as mine but a lot of them are. ����

Anonymous said...

The blog is 11 years old and I can tell you that 11 years ago it has a lot of accurate points. I still work for the company and a lot of that has changed in the past year or so. They are trying to make things better for the associate and the employee. Not all walmart stores are the same. If you find a good one the job is very rewarding.