Walmart Worsens Healthcare PR

Blaming health care costs, Walmart is cancelling healthcare insurance for about 30,000 part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week. The news is bad enough, but the company exacerbated the negative press with a tweet Huffington Post calls "bizarre and ill timed."

Walmart employees protested this decision and the 19% increase in premiums that workers will pay under Walmart's new plans. Under anonymity, a Mississippi employee told Business Insider, "Most of the employees where I work are struggling as it is, and to take away more of the very meager benefits we get is atrocious." An employee in Missouri said, "While this is a cost cutting [move] for Wal-Mart, is it a slam in the face for employees. Just another thing they are taking away from them." She is worried about coworkers "barely - and I mean barely - keeping their heads above water, even after working for Wal-Mart for almost 20 years."

Sally Welborn, Walmart's senior vice president of benefits, told reporters that Home Depot and Target also recently cut part-timers' benefits: "Health care costs just keep going up for all of us." The decision also is explained in a blog post. However, this tweet provided no context and seemed odd, given the news about cuts and increased costs, neither of which are reflected in this chart:

Walmart benefits tweet

Discussion Starters:

  • Read Walmart's blog post. Which are the most and least convincing arguments?
  • In what ways do you support employees' perspectives?
  • PR Daily's Matt Wilson summarizes the tweet situation: "Sometimes, Twitter just isn't the right medium for complex communications." Wilson also tells us that the tweet didn't link to the blog post, which provides more context. What advice would you give Walmart as the company considers tweeting after a report of bad news?