With the holiday selling season up ahead, The Kroger Co. is doubling down in its second nationwide hybrid hiring event.
Cincinnati-based Kroger said Wednesday that it aims to hire 20,000 associates in virtual and on-site interviews across its market area on Oct. 13. Job openings include positions in retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, supply chain, merchandising, logistics, corporate, pharmacy and health care. The hiring drive follows a summer season jobs event in June in which Kroger targeted 10,000 additional workers.
“The Kroger Family of Companies is eager to welcome 20,000 associates to our organization as we prepare for an incredible holiday season, where customers are planning to return to larger family gatherings and celebrations,” Tim Massa, senior vice president and chief people officer at Kroger, said in a statement.
Roles that Kroger will look to fill at the hiring event 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.
“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,” Massa added. “We truly want our associates to have a rewarding and uplifting experience while meeting our customers’ needs and delivering on our promise to be in-stock, fresh and friendly.”
Last month, Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC that the supermarket giant had about 20,000 job openings but, like other companies, was finding the current hiring environment challenging.
“We’re aggressively hiring anywhere we can, and one of the biggest constraints we have right now is finding talented people,” McMullen said in the CNBC video interview. “We’ve continued to increase wages. It’s part of the long-term plan. Over the last three years, we’ve increased wages by $850 million, and we are increasing them by another $350 million this year. And through work process changes and using technology, we’re able to make everybody a little bit more productive, and that’s really how we’re financing those increases in wages.”
Kroger said its investments this year will lift its average hourly wage to more than $16 nationally and total compensation to over $21 per hour with benefits, which include comprehensive health coverage plus a range of wellness programs. Associates who get a full COVID-19 vaccination also receive a one-time payment of $100.
“Our proactive approach to investing in our associates over recent years is helping us navigate a challenging labor market. Our strategy continues to focus on investing in compensation plans that reward our associates in ways that are meaningful to them,” Kroger Chief Financial Officer Gary Millerchip told analysts Sept. 10 in a conference call on fiscal 2021 second-quarter results. “We are committed to increasing retail hourly wages sustainably and our long-term financial model fully contemplates continued investments in associate hourly rates.”
On the employee development side, Kroger noted that it offers on-demand, role-specific training and resources through the FEED desktop and mobile apps and learning platforms like Axonify under the Fresh Start program, as well as leadership training and career advancement. The company also offers full- and part-time associates a tuition reimbursement program providing up to $21,000 for degrees ranging from a GED to a PhD. So far, 6,789 associates have used the tuition benefit, with hourly associates making up 88.4% of participants, the retailer said.
“During the [second] quarter, we introduced new technology to elevate our associate experience. Kroger launched Fresh Start, a new personalized training program to foster greater associate engagement and retention. We also launched our FEED app, which provides associates easy access to company communications and resources from their smartphones,” McMullen said in the Q2 call. “We are incredibly proud that during the quarter we saw an improvement in retention, as we strive to be an employer where associates can come for a job and stay for a career.”
Kroger joins other grocery retailers announcing hiring events, focusing on not just the holiday season but also competing for workers amid a national labor shortage and ongoing high consumer demand in the food retail sector due to COVID-19.
Ahold Delhaize USA’s Food Lion said yesterday that its 1,100-plus supermarkets plan to host open interviews on Oct. 12 for full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs across store departments. The Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic grocer noted that hiring events it held in July and August filled added over 16,000 associates. And on Monday, Publix Super Markets announced plans to hire about 30,000 associates across its seven-state Southeastern market area through the end of this year.
Last week, Walmart said it aims to add 150,000 more workers, just weeks after announcing plans to hire another 20,000 associates in supply chain positions. Rival Target Corp. last month said it plans to hire 100,000 seasonal workers, and the company is now following that up with a push to add another 30,000 supply chain jobs. Also, Aldi U.S. held a National Hiring Week from Sept. 20 to 24 to help the fast-expanding discount grocer add more than 20,000 new store and warehouse employees.