By Rob Gallo
LEXINGTON, Ken.—For convenience retailers looking to hire additional employees to make sure stores are both stocked and sanitized, it may be worth forming relationships with companies that have furloughed workers with similar skill sets. With the timing of a recovery from COVID-19 still uncertain, many furloughed workers don’t have the financial means to wait it out.
Restaurants, hotel chains, movie theaters and entertainment venues all have employees with foodservice experience who should be able to transition to the convenience retailing business with relative ease. Specialty retailers have furloughed thousands of workers that could also prove to be quick studies running registers and helping customers.
Kroger and Albertsons grocery chains have recently developed short-term (30-day) partnerships with many companies in a time when they need tens of thousands of workers to help in their stores and distribution centers. On March 30, Kroger and Sysco signed a formal agreement, under which Sysco workers who have been temporarily furloughed can be absorbed by Kroger, Sysco announced. Sysco employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits from Sysco during their time at Kroger. The goal of this arrangement, according to Sysco, is to provide work opportunities for these employees at a respected company and alleviate strain in the food supply chain due to a surge in demand.
Albertsons has forged similar partnerships with 17 companies to provide part-time jobs to employees who have been furloughed or had their hours cut back, Albertsons announced. ASM Global, BJ’s Restaurants, G6 Hospitality, Hilton, Inspire Brands, Marriott International, MGM Resorts and Regal Cinemas are just a few of the companies that are sharing application links dedicated solely to the company and partnership.
Many convenience chains and operators are supporting their store associates in extraordinary ways and rewarding them for their extra work efforts during this time. Hourly wage increases of $2 to $3 per hour for hourly workers and manager bonuses are just a few. While this is similar to both grocery and delivery companies, who are also resource constrained, convenience stores may be more attractive for some workers due to closer proximity to their homes and/or their smaller size. Also, most grocery stores are cutting back hours in order to stock shelves, while convenience stores can still offer night shifts to those who have working spouses and/or other day jobs.
As designated essential businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, convenience retailers have the opportunity to enhance their workforce with talent that may not have been available before. For companies looking to hire, they have easy access to a pool of talent that they can onboard quicker to satisfy demand and provide some relief for the stress on the current business. It’s certain that some or even most of these workers will go back to their former companies, but the question is when. What’s more, not every business will be hiring back at the same level. There are few silver linings during this crisis—the opportunity to keep people working and to find people with skillsets we need are at least two that should be considered.
Rob Gallo is chief marketing officer of Impact 21. NACS and Impact 21 partner to deliver the NACS Certified Convenience Category Manager Course and NACS Certified Convenience Advanced Category Management Curriculum for NACS members. Click here to register or learn more about the basic CCMC course for managers, and click here to register or learn more about the advanced CCACM course.