Ten Things I Learned While Working at Walmart
I Have a Lot to Say About This Job
I applied to work at a local Walmart just around the time the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to become serious. I worked at that Walmart store for a year and some extra months.
In this article, I am going to explain ten things I learned while working at Walmart.
Information About My Job
I was a personal shopper. When a customer placed an order online, a team of people at a Walmart store worked to make sure they got the things they bought.
The department was first called Online Grocery Pickup (OGP). But then the name was changed to Online Pickup and Delivery (ODP).
Nobody seemed to care too much about the name change, though.
I have done all the roles a personal shopper can do.
- Sorted and brought orders to people curbside,
- Walked around the store and shopped for people.
- Answered the phone and checked people in when they arrived, and dealt with customer issues.
- Used computers to check order status and to deal with customer issues.
- Cleaned up messes in my department work area.
I also have done some other things that I thought were not directly related to my job.
- Stop and answer questions from customers and employees
- Stocked product on shelves.
- Organized and made the products on store shelves look neat.
- Cleaned up messes in the store.
- Returned products to the right places.
- Counted people at the front door.
- Cleaned up trash in the parking lot.
- Helped gather carts in the parking lot.
- Helped unload products from a receiving truck.
#1 People Who Shop at Walmart Are Rude
For the most part, I did try to help people when I could. If I knew where something was, I told them. If I didn’t know and I had my phone on me, I would search for the thing they wanted.
If I knew someone could answer their question, I would point them in that direction.
But some people just wanted too much. Or could not accept an answer that did not lead to them getting their way.
Too many people to count had a tantrum because they could not get what they wanted.
Once, an older customer told me I was unless because I could not understand the product he wanted. He did not know what it was called, of course.
Once a lady got mad at me because she asked for some bags. I asked what kind of bags did she want? I guess that frustrated her because she went and asked somebody else.
Once while loading groceries curbside, a man told started cursing me out because he said we passed him up.
Once a lady started yelling and screaming because she had been there waiting an hour. We did not have enough workers to get people their things fast enough.
#2 People Don’t Put Things Back in the Right Spot!
I knew people did this before I started working at Walmart. I am going to be honest. I am guilty of this myself.
But once you work at the store, the fact that random things are placed at random places starts to become annoying.
The oddest thing I saw? A half-eaten doughnut is placed on a shelf.
#3 the Only Thing Management Cares About Is Metrics
All my management cared about was metrics. It did not matter if you were a good employee.
When bringing items curbside, we were timed. Take over five minutes, and it is an issue. While shopping around the store, we were tracked on multiple metrics as well.
First, I was told I was going too slow. Then in few weeks, we were told to slow down and make sure to search for items.
Also, they expected people who worked hard to work harder. That was their strategy for when we were understaffed.
Expect more from the people who are doing well.
It started to be so frustrating. I would walk around all day and shop and try my best. I still would be told I was not doing good enough.
For what should have been a simple job of walking around and shopping it was quite emotional and stressful.
#4 Understaffed and Overworked
The Online Pickup department I worked in had about 20 or so people, I think.
We should have had enough people to get things done. But yet somehow, there were days where we had issues.
People would be expected to work the whole parking lot alone. I had to do it myself a few times.
We did not have enough people to get the shopping done. So people would show expecting their things, and we had to tell them it was not ready yet.
These issues happened enough times to stress me out and make me quite angry.
Why am I getting flack from angry customers because other people won’t do things or show up to work? Or made mistakes often?
#5 I Took Tips and I Am Not Afraid to Admit It
We were told never to accept gifts or tips of any kind.
Almost everybody who worked curbside took tips. We took free food as well. Sorry, Walmart. I am not refusing money put in my hand when I have to deal with the stress of this job.
One nice delivery driver once gave us a box of doughnuts. He could have poisoned us all, and I still would have eaten them.
An older man once tipped me $20 for helping left and put a TV into his van. That was one of my best days ever.
Because of my experience at this job, I make sure to tip as often as I can. I now understand how much a big deal it means to receive a nice monetary tip.
#6 Let Me Tell You The Story of Walmart Management
When I started, I had an older woman manager. She seemed nice. But she changed the more I got to know her.
She got things done. Under her leadership, things were run well enough, and there were not many issues.
I had this boss for about half the time I worked at the store. But then she vanished. Poof. Gone.
She went on leave. Then she extended her leave. Then she extended it again. Then she quit.
The one lady who was our team lead went on medical leave as well.
We were left alone with zero management. We were told to figure things out ourselves.
We tried to get other management in the store to help. But they either had no idea of how to help our department or did not feel like helping.
This lack of management issue lasted for quite a while.
When needed help, the store was far too slow to react. Or they did not help at all.
These manager-less days were hell. This was the worst time I had at any job.
We were given a new Team Lead. He seemed like a nice guy.
But he avoided dealing with difficult situations. Some team members would gossip behind his back about how he was not that much help.
Then we got a new lead manager.
She seemed nice enough. I was not around her enough to make a lasting impression. Because she quit.
Well, to be more accurate, she transferred to another department. She was only our manager for about a month or so.
Some time passed, and we got another lead manager. This time a man. He also seemed nice. He liked to try to get people to work extra hours.
He also wanted to transfer to another department. But the store made him go back and keep on doing it.
I feel that really says something about the online pickup department. Two separate people were brought in to help. But they both decided they rather not deal with the issue.
By now, our old team lead had come back. She decided to step down as manager.
She said she had enough of the stress. The store decided that she could not work in the same department if she did this.
She was transferred to the Money Center. She said she loved it there.
Before I quit working at the store, our store manager was fired. He was not dealing with the store issues enough to keep his job.
Everything I just wrote happened in a year.
#7 My Thoughts on the Pay
Before working at Walmart, I was doing odd jobs at a temp agency.
One of the things I did was pick up trash on the highway for $11.50 an hour. It was boring work, but I thought the pay was nice.
I also was paid $11.50 an hour when I started working at Walmart.
It seemed odd at first to make the same amount of money picking up garbage all day. But Walmart had more consistent hours and benefits.
I suppose I was OK with this starting pay. I did not love it, but I did not hate it either.
Before I quit, the ODP department was given a nationwide raise. I was now making $14 an hour.
This pay was considerably better. Out of all the issues I had at work, I was not concerned about pay.
But eventually, the stress of the job made it so that even the nicer pay was no longer worth it.
The way I feel right now, I would rather have a job that paid less money that was less stressful.
#8 Overtime Is Not Always Worth It
When I first started working at Walmart, I worked 40 hours a week.
Later on, while working at the store, the option for overtime became available.
Now at Walmart overtime, is not encouraged, and in some stores, it is forbidden.
My direct boss said it was OK, and he said he would get in trouble if we were told to stop. I trusted him, and I started to work extra hours.
At first, I took every overtime chance I got. For a few weeks, I worked almost 60 hours a week.
The pay I was getting to me at the time was amazing. I like I know in comparison working at Walmart is not amazing pay. But that did not matter to me.
It was great to have that extra money to spend. I bought myself a new Apple Watch to enjoy it.
But then I started to have issues.
I started to feel the effects of walking around shopping all day. I used to ache everywhere. I used to take ibuprofen and acetaminophen almost every day to deal with the pain I was feeling.
When I got home, I did not feel like doing anything at all. It was a hassle to do basic household chores.
Also, I dreaded doing anything else important after work.
The days I had off were fleeting and not satisfying enough to feel like a break from work.
I stopped doing overtime as often soon. I quickly changed my mind and felt the extra pay was not worth the hassle.
I feel this was a good learning experience for me. I learned that pay can’t make up for feeling stressed and overworked.
#9 the Reason I Quit
I decided one day I had enough of the problems and stress. I had enough of having to clean up after other people and deal with other people’s problems.
That is why I walked out.
I had learned the job was just not worth it anymore. I felt I could find better.
#10 the Most Important Lesson of All
You can’t understand or know the struggle and stress of the employees at your favorite retail stores until you have done it yourself.
Remember that the next time you visit a store and become angry.
I am not saying retail workers can’t ever do anything wrong. I have seen plenty of lazy employees myself while working at Walmart.
But remember that we have to do deal with a lot. If you won’t be kind, at least don’t act rude.
I know I will shop differently at retail stores in the future.