Walmart's U.S. store managers learned Monday that they will get an annual stock grant of up to $20,000 each year starting in April.
John Furner, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., said in a video on his LinkedIn page that the amount of the grant will be based on store formats, with store managers at Supercenters getting $20,000 in company stock annually.
Furner posted the video just after making the announcement to employees at Walmart U.S.' year-beginning meeting in Houston.
Walmart Inc. said in a news release Monday that at its other U.S. formats, managers at Neighborhood Markets and Division I stores -- those of 70,000 square feet or more -- will receive $15,000 in stock, while managers of its "hometown" stores of less than 70,000 square feet will get $10,000 in Walmart stock.
The new benefits and salaries will take effect on Feb. 1.
Walmart's shares closed Monday at $165.04, up 77 cents, or 0.47%, on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's shares have traded between $136.09 and $169.94 over the past year.
The Bentonville-based retailer said two weeks ago that it was "simplifying and increasing" store managers' base pay.
"With this investment and upcoming annual increases, the store manager average salary will go from $117,000 a year to $128,000 a year," said Cedric Clark, executive vice president for store operations at Walmart U.S.
And under the company's "redesigned" bonus program, store managers could potentially get annual bonuses up to 200% of their base pay.
"Today's announcement is the latest step in our ongoing journey of investing in our store associates -- a journey that's focused on pay raises for hourly store associates over the past several years," the company said in the release.
Walmart raised starting pay for its hourly store workers last year.
"With those investments in front-line hourly associates and upcoming annual increases, our U.S. average hourly wage will soon exceed $18," Clark said.
Still, Furner's LinkedIn post drew mixed comments. Some praised the move for rewarding store managers for their hard work. Others, though, said those rewards came on the backs of workers out on the floor serving customers.
But Carol Spieckerman, a retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, said on Monday that "by focusing benefits and rewards on store managers, Walmart is indirectly encouraging store associates to stay in the game and seek longer-term career opportunities with Walmart."
"The stock share announcement is no small perk given Walmart's stock performance over time," Spieckerman said, "and here again, it encourages employees to plan a future with Walmart."
Employee turnover is costly and compromises continuity, Spieckerman said, "so any moves Walmart makes to increase retention will pay off in the long run and make it more competitive on the recruiting front."