Sprouts Markets is using virtual job fairs to bring on staff members as it moves forward with plans to open several new stores in Florida and Colorado by July. The natural-foods grocer announced that it is planning an online hiring event on May 13 and 14 for people interested in working for its new store in Miramar, Florida, which is due to open June 24.
Sprouts has also scheduled a virtual job fair for June 1 and 2 in advance of the planned July 15 public unveiling of a new location in Stapleton, Colorado. In addition, Sprouts is holding an online job fair on June 3 and 4 in anticipation of the July 15 opening of a new store in Seminole, Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The grocer also conducted online interviews last week to bring on workers for a new store in Estero, Florida, that is due to open June 3.
Publix held a virtual career fair last Thursday in conjunction with Miami Dade College in Hialeah, Florida. The event, intended to help the grocer hire workers for local stores, was aimed at students and alumni of the community college.
Grocers remain one of the few bright spots for hiring as the nation's economic malaise worsens, but retailers need to find, screen and hire workers in a manner that maintains social distancing protocols. A crowded Amazon hiring event last month illustrates the risks of traditional job fairs right now.
Virtual job fairs offer a space for workers to submit applications, complete screening programs and do video interviews with company representatives. Pharmacy chain CVS, which developed virtual screening technology a few years ago, held virtual job fairs recently to fill 50,000 full- and part-time positions for its stores, distribution centers and delivery routes. Employers are also using online programs, many developed pre-pandemic, to train employees before they even step foot inside a company facility.
Supermarket operators have been on a hiring spree for weeks as they scramble to meet elevated demand from consumers. They've been able to draw from a large pool of recently unemployed individuals, including workers in the foodservice, hospitality and other adjacent industries. The White House says the U.S. is on track to record an unemployment rate unseen since the Great Depression.
New supermarkets are opening even as restrictions throw a damper on the activities and store department that typically spearhead grand opening events. Raley’s for example, held a grand opening for a new store in Sacramento, California, earlier this month that emphasizes prepared food items like sushi, sandwiches and pizza, but is not operating its self-serve stations because of the virus.
Retailers say they've been able to hire the help they need so far, but widespread reports of grocery workers getting sick and even dying from COVID-19 promise to make hiring and labor management more difficult in the weeks ahead. States along with the federal government, meanwhile, have been slow to take steps to make it easier for grocery store employees to access testing for the virus or acquire personal protective equipment like face masks, which an expanding number of jurisdictions are requiring employees and customers to wear while in essential businesses like supermarkets.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described a virtual career fair held by Miami Dade College. The fair was intended to help Publix hire workers for local stores.