With the Labor Day holiday being observed in the United States, the Supply Chain Matters blog highlights new recruiting programs being initiated by two significant retailers and how recruiting and retaining employees has become more important.

The later half of the year have been traditionally when retailers augment their staffing in order to manage seasonal surge in order volume, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a multitude of peak volume periods.

With labor markets becoming more competitive and with workers now being very selective given their experiences with the pandemic, retailers and businesses are turning to added bonuses to retain workers. Yet, many traditional retailers remain challenged with filling open positions for typical in-store needs.


Global retailer Walmart announced that the company is aiming to hire an additional 20,000 workers across more than 250 distribution, fulfillment, and transportation facilities. Roles include roles, include order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians and management positions. Reportedly these new hires will be permanent part or full-time positions designated to support needs not only for the upcoming holiday fulfillment season but ongoing operational needs as well.

This level of hiring matches that of last year except this latest round seems to be focused on permanent roles. The retailer has indicated that is average wage rate for supply chain related workers averages over $20 per hour. The retailer’s minimum wage rate will reportedly increase to $12 per hour for thousands of in-store associates.Last week, the retailer additionally announced raises averaging $1 per hour for over half-a-million of its 1.6 million workers, specifically for checkout and store stocking associates.

In August, Walmart announced a special bonus to fulfillment employees who work every hour that they are scheduled to work. Reportedly, some workers were provided $1,000 bonuses over four weeks for shifts scheduled and worked during the latter part of this summer.

The retailer is additional providing on the job and classroom training programs via the U.S. Supply Chain Academy. Employees are further eligible for tuition educational assistance payments and healthcare benefits coverage.

Walmart remains the largest private employer in the U.S. with upwards of 1.6 million workers.


Amazon announced last week that the company is seeking to hire an additional 55,000 employees globally to support needs across its various business units.

Areas of recruiting include the Amazon Web Services Cloud computing business unit, Amazon Studios, and a broadband satellite project termed Project Kuiper. Reportedly more than 40,000 positions are slated across U.S. facilities while the balance is within in international sites. A recruiting event is scheduled for September 15.

In May, the company launched a recruiting effort to hire an additional 75,000 workers within online fulfillment and customer delivery roles.

This latest recruitment effort comes as Andy Jassy assumes the company’s CEO role from Jeff Bezos. Jassy indicated to Reuters that the company needed more resources to keep up with demand in retail and other businesses. Amazon has made more than 450,000 hires since the pandemic began and is now recognized as the second largest employer in the United States.

The company is further offering up to $3,000 sign-on bonuses for select warehouse customer fulfillment positions. The online retailer has adopted a minimum wage of $15 per hour for warehouse, customer fulfillment and distribution roles. Amazon is reportedly investing $700 million to provide skills training to employees, helping them transition into higher-paying, in-demand roles, such as robotics or cloud computing.


Added Insights

In a previous Supply Chain Matters editorial commentary we made mention of two  expressive terms being adopted some economists, The Great Supply Chain Disruption and The Great Resignation. The latter is a new realization that since the pandemic, employees are either leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves because of established new priorities in career aspirations, personal health and in work-life balance. Thus, competition and retention for workers has become a more important business consideration giving the current labor environment and tendencies of the workforce. Observe how two of the largest retailers in the U.S. have had to change how they initiate recruiting, retaining and hopefully managing workers. Some retailers and businesses and investors have managed to grow sales and profits during the pandemic because of the ability of their organizations to be able to adapt and pivot to unforseen challenges and disruptions. Workers were an important part of that effort.

According to countryliving.com the significance of Labor Day, which celebrates American employees and their achievements, was born out of the struggle to rectify poor working conditions. The Industrial Revolution, which ushered in the age of manufacturing, had brought with it 12- to 16-hour workdays, seven days a week, in often unsafe and unsanitary circumstances. While the modern workplace is so much different than over a century ago, workers demand recognition in worth and in their value to business performance.


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