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Culture Clash: Walmart revokes ban on workplace drinking after Jet.com’s acquisition
HRKatha News Bureau | New Delhi | Tuesday, 27 June 2017

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Jet reportedly had regular in-office happy hours, as well as at least one kitchen cupboard full of liquor, and employees sometimes drank at their desks

Big fish ate the small fish, but it didn’t come too easy to gulp down every little part. When Walmart acquired Jet.com for $3 billion last September, it looked like a win-win for both. For Jet.com, it was a great deal as the e-commerce startup’s investors rejoiced about the big payday. The discount retailer, on the other hand, got a robust online platform.

However, there was one aspect where the larger entity failed to agree – Walmart wouldn’t have Jet employees drinking at the office. Jet reportedly had regular in-office happy hours, as well as at least one kitchen cupboard full of liquor, and employees sometimes drank at their desks. This was largely because the company is based in Hoboken, New Jersey, a town with a strong drinking culture. Secondly, for a young tech start-up drinking at work is regular and in fact founder Marc Lore runs a vineyard.

On the other hand, Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, has a conservative corporate culture that includes companywide prohibition. This sparked a culture clash and Walmart decided to stop Jet employees from drinking in office, imposing a ban on its happy hours practice. It also apparently discouraged employees from swearing at the workplace. If some reports are to be believed, it even sent an outside company into Jet's offices in Hoboken, New Jersey, to remove its liquor stash and then moved out the happy hours to nearby bars as a compromise.

However, the change did not go down too well with the Jet employees, and it backfired. Apparently, fewer employees attended the off-site happy hours. Considering the impact, Walmart decided to take back its decision and recently allowed happy hour to return to the Jet office at the same time, loosening similar restrictions on other recently acquired start-ups.

© 2016 HR Katha

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