Plans to loosen the dress code of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT)’s employees in the United States numbering approximately 1.4 million are being considered in order to assist in attracting and retaining staff in a tightening labor market. Currently the big box retailer is undertaking a pilot at around 100 of its retail outlets where the employees there are at liberty to wear jeans on condition that they are of a solid blue color.
Under the pilot project employees are also allowed to wear a shirt of their choice as long as it is of a solid color. At the moment employees of the giant retailer are only permitted to wear solid white or blue shirts and black denim or khaki-colored pants.
“We are always testing new ideas and concepts in a small number of our stores … We won’t know next steps on this test until we’ve had a chance to learn what works and what could work better,” said a Walmart spokesperson.
The last time Walmart revised the dress code for employees was three years ago when workers with jobs that were more physically demanding were exempted from having to wear collared shirts and could instead don tee shirts.
A survey conducted last year by Society for Human Resources Management came to the finding that 44% of employers permitted their employees to dress casually on a daily basis, an increase from previous years. Depending on season around 27% of businesses permit more casual attire.
Biggest private-sector employer
With about 5,000 retail outlets across the United States, Walmart is the biggest employer in the private sector in the country. The giant retailer has for a long time been criticized for its employee policies but has in the recent past been taking steps aimed at improving its image with a view to becoming an employer of choice.
Earlier in the year the big box retailer raised the starting wage from $9 per hour to $11 while offering eligible employees bonuses amounting to a maximum of $1,000 following the tax reforms enacted late last year. The giant retailer has also protested against laws that discriminate against the LGBT community.