Grocery and drugstore giant Kroger (NYSE:KR) described today how it added in excess of 100,000 new workers to its payroll over the past eight weeks, absorbing thousands of people laid off from other companies as the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled the U.S. economy. According to its statement, many of the those new employees come from food service, restaurants, and hotels, all business sectors that took the brunt of the impact of stay-at-home orders and social distancing.
Realizing an unprecedented situation was afoot back in early March, Kroger created an expedited hiring and training process to get people on the job as fast and efficiently as possible. The company says by focusing on tasks, rather than roles, during training, it managed to onboard a typical new hire within 72 hours of their job application.
The 100,000 new employees found their way into every facet of Kroger's operations, including manufacturing and distribution, as well as e-commerce and working the actual retail floor. The press release notes the two-month hiring surge "helped the retailer to provide continuous access to fresh, affordable food and essential products to communities during the pandemic."
Kroger also remarks it has committed to raising wages and currently pays $15 an hour on average. All frontline workers, both long-term and newly hired, have been receiving a $2 per hour pay increase dubbed the "hero bonus" during the coronavirus pandemic. Other one-time cash bonuses and perks such as discounted snacks and soda have also been offered. The $2 hero bonus is set to expire on May 17, though unions are currently attempting to push Kroger into extending it longer.