Kroger Adds to Hiring Frenzy With Search for 20K New Associates

Latest research finds retailers are under increased scrutiny to improve treatment of employees amid labor-market challenges
Marian Zboraj
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Kroger Adds to Hiring Frenzy With Search for 20K New Associates
To better attract new employees, Accenture says that retailers must ensure their employees have the skills and opportunities to thrive, as well as the resources to find the right balance between their home and work lives.

The Kroger Co. will hold its second nationwide hybrid hiring event, featuring virtual and on-site interviews, on Oct. 13 2-5 p.m. ET. The organization's mission is to hire 20,000 associates by finding talent for retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, supply chain, merchandising, logistics, corporate, and pharmacy and health care roles.

Kroger's move follows Publix Super Markets’ plans to hire about 30,000 associates across the company’s seven-state operating area through the rest of the year and Walmart Inc.’s plan to hire about 150,000 new store associates for mostly permanent full-time roles. Additionally, Food Lion’s more than 1,100 stores will host open interviews on Oct. 12, for which applicants can simply go to their nearest Food Lion to meet with a member of the store leadership team to discuss available opportunities.

Attracting more than 200,000 new workers is no easy feat during a nationwide labor crunch. A new Accenture research study looked at the actions that retailers are taking as they gear up for the holiday season, including how they plan to address the challenging labor market.

Based on parallel surveys of more than 1,500 consumers and 120 retail executives in the United States, Accenture's study found that half (49%) of retailer executives cited feeling increased pressure to provide career growth opportunities for their employees, and approximately the same number (51%) feel pressure to offer permanent roles to holiday-season temporary workers. In addition, 47% of the executives also noted that the holiday season is making process training and culture and ethos training even more challenging for them.

In response, many retailers are taking a different approach to recruitment this year:

  • 48% have altered/enhanced hiring processes to onboard new recruits faster;
  • 38% have altered/enhanced their training processes to make it faster and easier for their recruits to become work-ready; and
  • 34% are changing role descriptions to target and attract different types of candidates.

“In today’s challenging retail labor market — not just during the holidays but beyond — retailers must ensure that their employees have the skills and opportunities to thrive, as well as the resources to find the right balance between their home and work lives,” said Jill Standish, a senior managing director at Dublin-based Accenture who leads its retail industry group globally. “The well-being of employees is now also top of mind for consumers, who will favor companies able to show consideration for the ‘human’ side of the workforce. To succeed in recruiting during peak times and in building a workplace that is better for everyone — workers, customers and their own businesses — retailers will need to bring a flexible, inclusive and digitally enabled approach.”

Over at Kroger, the retailer is touting its own resources, benefits and training to attract new employees during its upcoming hiring event, including:

  • Continued Education and Tuition Reimbursement: Kroger's tuition reimbursement program, offering up to $21,000 for both part- and full-time associates, covers a GED to PhD. Since inception, this program has benefited 6,789 associates, with hourly associates making up 88.4% of those who have taken advantage of the offering so far.
  • Training and Development: On-demand, role-specific training and resources are offered through FEED desktop and mobile and modern learning platforms like Axonify, as well as leadership, career advancement, and diversity, equity and inclusion training.
  • Health and Wellness: Managers are coached to lead with compassion and empathy and through resources like The Well-Being Assistant powered by Magellan Health, which is available 24/7 and offers free counseling sessions, as well as BetterHelp, another mental wellness resource. The organization also encourages use of Whil, a wellness platform that encourages activities like mindfulness, yoga and sleep. Additionally, the organization continues to award a one-time payment of $100 to associates who become fully COVID-19 vaccinated.
  • Perks and Discounts: Employees can take advantage of  flexible scheduling, an advance pay option through partner DailyPay, and discounts on groceries, electronics, streaming services, travel and more.

"It's an exciting time to work in grocery retail, and as one of the leading retailers and employers in America, we're committed to offering associates a culture of opportunity and career with purpose, competitive pay and benefits, and flexible schedules," said Tim Massa, Kroger's SVP and chief people officer.

In addition to an $800 million incremental investment in associate wages and training over the past three years, Kroger is investing $350 million more in 2021, which has increased its average hourly wage to more than $16 nationally, so that, when coupled with benefits, total compensation is more than $21 an hour.

"We know that a career looks different for everyone, so we strive to provide the tools and support associates need to create their own path to success," added Massa.

Available opportunities at Kroger include store leaders, customer service managers, personal shoppers, e-commerce specialists, digital marketing managers, software engineers, data architects, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, machine operators, category and procurement managers, financial analysts, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, project managers, and administrative supporters. To preview all available roles and register for the hiring event, visit Kroger’s career site.

Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 11 million-plus customers daily through a digital shopping experience and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North AmericaLakeland, Fla.-based Publix is No. 11; Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1; and Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion's parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 10 on The PG 100.

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