The Kroger Co. has hired more than 100,000 new workers in the past eight weeks as part of its efforts to provide continuous access to fresh food and essential products to shoppers during the pandemic.
Kroger says it has invested $700 million in providing new career opportunities to job-seekers nationwide, including those from the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus recession including restaurants, hotels and foodservice distributors.
But now, the company says, it is ending its Hero Bonus of $2 an hour on May 17.
"Throughout the pandemic, Kroger's top priority has been to provide and maintain a safe environment for our associates and customers with open stores, comprehensive e-commerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Since March, we have invested to reward our associates and safeguard our associates, customers and communities.
In the coming months, we know that our associates’ needs will continue to evolve and change as our country recovers. Our commitment is that we will continue to listen and be responsive, empowering us to make decisions that advance the needs of our associates, customers, communities and business. We continuously evaluate employee compensation and benefits packages. Our average hourly wage is $15 and with benefits factored in, like health care, the hourly wage is over $20."
Kroger says it moved quickly to expedite its hiring process in early March to shorten the time between application and employment, onboarding new hires in an average of 72 hours. Kroger also adjusted its new hire approach to focus on tasks versus role-based development, concentrating on culture and safety. This adjustment allows new hires to more quickly acclimate to their role and expectations, Kroger says.
In March, Kroger says it formed employment partnerships with local, regional and national businesses to create a shared-resource model that temporarily flexes employees to Kroger roles, ensuring the food supply chain continues without disruption. Current partners include Frisch's, Marriott International, McLane Foodservice, Shamrock Foods, Sodexo, SodexoMAGIC, Sysco, Thunderdome Restaurant Group, US Foods, Waffle House and more.
Open jobs remain nationwide across Kroger's retail stores, e-commerce business, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers. Candidates may apply via jobs.kroger.com.
Kroger says it will continue to invest in, support and protect its associates in the following ways:
- Offering COVID-19 testing to associates based on symptoms and medical need
- Providing emergency leave to associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms and providing paid time off
- Supplying masks for all associates and encouraging them to stay home if they are sick
- Encouraging customers to wear masks in stores, or alternatively, use e-commerce services
- Providing comprehensive benefits packages, including healthcare coverage and retirement benefits
- Offering $5 million through the organization's Helping Hands fund to provide financial support to certain associates experiencing hardships due to COVID-19, including childcare costs
- Making available mental health resources
- Continued implementation of customer capacity limits and special shopping hour for senior shoppers and higher-risk customers
- Continued plexiglass partitions and physical distancing floor decals
- Expanding contact-free payment solutions like Scan, Bag, Go and Kroger Pay
- Offering a no-contact delivery option, low-contact pickup service and ship-to-home orders
On Thursday Kroger also announced that it has released its fifth version of its blueprint for businesses, a resource guide that includes actionable recommendations and learnings the organization has applied in the last eight weeks. This fifth installment is focused on protection of the supply chain.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,757 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in the United States.