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Kroger adds 100,000 workers in eight weeks

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CINCINNATI – Kroger Co. has hired more than 100,000 people in the past eight weeks, the company said Thursday, providing new career opportunities to workers from such hard-hit sectors as restaurants, hotels and food service distributors.

Kroger worker“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,” Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement. “Since March, we have invested to reward our associates and safeguard our associates, customers and communities.”

Since March Kroger has invested about $700 million to reward its employees and to safeguard its associates, customers and communities, the company said.

“In the coming months, we know that our associates’ needs will continue to evolve and change, and our commitment is that we will continue to listen, be responsive and make decisions that advance the needs of our associates, customers, communities and business,” McMullen said.

Kroger began an expedited hiring process in early March, reducing to an average of 72 hours the average time needed to bring new employees on board. Kroger also adjusted its approach to focus on tasks, culture and safety, allowing new hires to more quickly acclimate.

The expedited hiring and onboarding process also supported Kroger’s focus on associate and customer safety, giving the company the manpower to expand the availability of Kroger Pickup and to support enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices in its stores and facilities.

“During these uncertain times, we’re humbled to be able to provide new career opportunities to workers in the industries most affected by this pandemic,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief people officer. “Through our expedited hiring and onboarding process and cross-sector partnerships, we’ve welcomed more than 100,000 new associates to the Kroger Family of Companies in roles across our retail stores, ecommerce business, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers.”

In March, Kroger 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.

Kroger noted that it has been boosting employee pay even before the COVID-19 crisis, and is also protecting its workers through such efforts as offering COVID-19 testing to associates based on symptoms and medical need, providing emergency leave to employees associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms, supplying masks to all associates and encouraging them to stay home if they are sick, and encouraging customers to wear masks in stores or use e-commerce services.

Kroger is also sharing what it has learned with other companies as part of its blueprint for reopening businesses.