Retail

Walmart to pay nearly $550 million in employee bonuses: 'It's almost like a mini stimulus package'

Key Points
  • Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett said the bonuses will reward employees for "performing Herculean efforts" and be  "almost like a mini-stimulus package."
  • Walmart said that it would pay special cash bonuses to its hourly employees for working during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • The bonuses will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates.
  • Walmart said it is also hiring 150,000 new associates through the end of May.
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Walmart plans to issuing cash bonuses to hourly workers

Walmart said it will pay nearly $550 million in bonuses to hourly employees — including special bonuses to reward its workforce for keeping shelves stocked as customers flock to stores.

In an interview on "Squawk Box" Friday morning, Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett said the bonuses will reward employees for "performing Herculean efforts" and put money into their pockets.

"It's almost like a mini stimulus package for Walmart associates," he said. 

The nation's largest grocer said Thursday its special cash bonuses will total more than $365 million. Walmart's full-time hourly associates will get a $300 bonus and part-time hourly associates will get a $150 bonus. The bonuses will be paid out April 2 and every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify.

The retailer is accelerating the payout of its next scheduled quarterly bonuses for store, club and supply chain employees. It will pay that planned $180 million of bonuses in late April, a month earlier than planned. At the usual time for those quarterly bonuses in May, employees may get an additional increase based on performance.

Walmart has seen a boost in sales as people buy food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other items as they prepare to stay at home amid rising cases of the coronavirus

Bartlett said on "Squawk Box" Friday that Walmart now sees the most supply chain pressure with food.

"It is quite frankly, unprecedented, the type of sustained pressure that we're seeing." he said. "It is like Black Friday day after day after day in some respects."

Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S, with more than 1.3 million employees in the country. It has more than 2.1 million employees globally.

That workforce will get even larger in the coming months. Walmart said Thursday that it will hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers to keep up with heightened demand. The jobs will be temporary, but the company said many will become permanent over time. 

As the coronavirus outbreak disrupts workplaces and daily routines, Walmart is one of the companies that's seen more demand, not less. Domino's and Papa John's said they will hire thousands of pizza makers and delivery drivers. Amazon said earlier this week that it will hire an additional 100,000 employees to keep up with a surge in online shopping in the U.S. And grocers, including Kroger, said they're trying to fill immediate openings.

Other retailers, on the other hand, have been slashing jobs and shuttering stores as Americans stay indoors. Many department stores and mall retailers, including Macy's, have temporarily closed all stores nationwide. Some, like Victoria's Secret, have suspended e-commerce sales, too. Major restaurateurs and hotels have started to lay off or furlough thousands of employees. 

As Walmart increases its workforce, Bartlett said it's expediting background checks and new employee training. He said new employee training has been shortened from two weeks to 3 hours.

He said the retailer has experience on-boarding employees quickly because of seasonal hiring around the holidays.