After ‘greeter’ role change, local advocate hopes Walmart can keep disabled workers engaged

Those who have shopped at a Walmart may have noticed the employees at the entrance greeting everyone.

Those are Walmart’s “people greeters,” and as part of a 2016 initiative from the company, the greeter role is changing to one with more responsibilities.

The change could negatively affect people with disabilities, who make up a large portion of the greeter position, according to a local advocate for the disabled.

“People with disabilities in our local communities really cherish the opportunities they have and really want to work,” said Keltie Klijanowicz, who is the marketing manager of VersAbility Resources. “Part of our mission is to help them maintain those opportunities.”

VersAbility “supports people with disabilities in leading productive and fulfilling lives,” according to the mission statement on their website. They have offices in Hampton and Norfolk.

Klijanowicz said 28 percent of people with disabilities are employed, and many of them are willing and able to work.

As the largest employer in the country, Walmart represents a beacon of hope for some disabled people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

“People with disabilities want to work, and a lot of times, that (Walmart) may be their only choice of employment, that’s the only place they can go,” Klijanowicz said.

Those people with disabilities working as Walmart greeters hope to have their role “reinvented” into new opportunities within the company, Klijanowicz said.

She wasn’t the only advocate with that concern.

After Walmart’s decision “created some conversation both externally and internally,” the company’s CEO Greg Foran released a memo Thursday ensuring people that Walmart wasn’t abandoning their disabled employees.

“We are looking into each one on an individual basis with the goal of offering appropriate accommodations that will enable these associates to continue in other roles with their store,” Foran wrote in a memo.

Foran said since announcing the changes to the greeter role, the company has already made job offers to employees who are disabled.

“We expect this will continue to be the case for many more across the country over the coming weeks,” Foran said.

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