Earlier this week, Walmart said it was raising wages for 100,000 department managers and specialized workers in the U.S., kicking off the second phase of its $1 billion effort to improve worker relations and store operations. In the first phase, which began in April, the company bumped up pay for 500,000 entry-level and long-term associates to a minimum of $9 an hour.
But Walmart’s plans to become a better place to work aren’t stopping with wages. According to the New York Times, the company has also decided to adjust the thermostat in stores, relax the dress code, and vary its music selections. Seriously. In the eastern and central United States, Walmart is increasing store temperatures to 75 degrees from 74. For music, Walmart plans to ease up on the Justin Bieber by enlisting a D.J. to broadcast tunes on “Walmart Radio,” the Times notes. And dress-code-wise, employees who work in the back of the store will finally get to trade their standard shirts, vests, and khakis for T-shirts and jeans. On special occasions, they’ll even get to wear themed clothing, like ugly holiday sweaters or team jerseys.
These things might sound small, but they’re also a somewhat encouraging sign that Walmart is genuinely trying to do better by its employees. Walmart has been dogged by bad press when it comes to worker relations. Tens of thousands of Walmart’s workers are thought to be on food stamps nationwide, despite estimates that it would only need to raise prices by 1.4 percent to pay all employees a living wage. With retail quits picking up, Walmart might also be under a decent bit of economic pressure to make its employees happy. It’s presumably in the company’s best interest to have lower turnover so that it employs workers who are familiar with how the stores run. One degree Fahrenheit is another easy step to help get there.