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Walmart seeks to ease transition from greeters to customer hosts

Walmart’s people greeter position is changing, and the retailer wants to soften the employee impact.

The discount giant is in the process of transitioning from people greeters, who primarily welcome shoppers, to customer hosts. In addition to greeting shoppers and bidding them farewell, customer hosts must also perform activities such as handling customer refunds, scanning receipts, and checking shopping carts. Walmart has been piloting the new customer host position since 2016.

The Associated Press reports that Walmart has told greeters that to be considered for customer host positions, they need to be able to lift 25-pound packages, climb ladders, and stand for long periods of time . As many greeters are disabled and/or elderly, this has caused concerns among both potentially affected employees and their advocates. According to the Associated Press, public response has included Facebook groups and planned appreciation events for disabled greeters, as well as one federal lawsuit filed in Utah and at least three federal employment discrimination complaints.

In a note which was sent to all Walmart stores and also posted on the corporate Walmart blog, Walmart U.S. president and CEO Greg Foran said the retailer did not make the decision to transition to customer hosts “lightly,” and will offer additional support and services to disabled greeters.

In addition to offering all affected greeters the company’s customary 60-day window to apply for other positions in the store while they still perform their current job, Foran said Walmart will look into each disabled greeter’s situation on an individual basis.

“(F)or associates with disabilities impacted by the changes to the greeter position, we have extended the current 60-day transition period while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations that will make sense for each person,” said Foran. “If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen.”

Foran also said Walmart has already made offers to many greeters, including those with physical disabilities, and expects this will continue for many more across the country over the coming weeks. Foran also cited Walmart’s receiving a 100% score by the Disability Equality Index for three years in a row.
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