Workforce Innovation: Food Retailers Navigate a Labor Maelstrom

As the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States gained steam in March, Amazon, Walmart and Target suddenly announced that they would be hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers.

Soon thereafter, Dollar General made a direct hiring appeal to people (restaurant and hotel employees, among others) who are losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

The Kroger Co. then followed suit, announcing that it would be hiring at least 10,000 new workers, as well as handing out bonuses and boosting sick leave for its employees.

Skyrocketing demand for groceries during a public health crisis has created an immediate need for more workers, forcing many of America’s grocers to scramble when it comes to reinforcing their ranks. There likely has never been a more challenging time for food retailers when it comes to the hiring, retention and training of workers in this country. And food retailers might have to alter their hiring practices to ensure that their stores — both brick-and-mortar and online — are staffed to meet the overwhelming demand.

Two of North America’s most successful regional grocery chains — Heinen’s, in Cleveland, Ohio, and Longo’s, in Toronto — have been making the kinds of investments in labor, training and development that are poised to pay big dividends during this unprecedented time for grocery labor. Even before the pandemic, both retailers were focusing on the key factors driving workforce innovation in food retailing, namely:

  • Online grocery opportunities and challenges
  • Leveraging social media in hiring
  • Using technology for training and development

Read the full article from Progressive Grocer

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