- Walmart has shortened its hiring process for store associates, which normally takes two weeks to complete, to the point that "we can now hire associates in as little as 24 hours," the company's chief people officer, Donna Morris, told HR Dive in an emailed statement.
- The initiative is part of the retailer's goal to hire 150,000 new associates by the end of May to work in its stores, clubs and distribution and fulfillment centers, Walmart said in a March 19 statement. The chain faces increased consumer demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Morris said the company hired approximately 25,000 new associates in less than a week after announcing the hiring goal.
- "We've reduced much of the time by eliminating formal interviews and written job offers, and expediting our screening process," Morris said. Walmart also announced a bonus for all U.S. hourly associates that will be paid out April 2.
Though many employers have had to suspend operations due to state and local public health emergencies in recent days, essential businesses have continued to operate in an environment of heightened demand. This is particularly the case for grocers, a class of businesses that includes Walmart.
That demand is such that essential businesses are partnering with companies in the entertainment and hospitality industries to improve sourcing. Industry groups are also working to provide solutions. Last week, the American Staffing Association launched an online staffing directory for members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association that aims to provide access to workers who can fill roles in warehouses and stores.
Though essential businesses are still open in many parts of the U.S., employees at these businesses have voiced concerns about their health and safety as they go to work during the pandemic. Employers have said they're taking measures to address those concerns. For example, Walmart's Supercenter and Neighborhood Market locations are closing overnight to give staff time to clean and sanitize stores, and the chain installed sneeze guards to protect workers operating pharmacy lanes, Newsweek reported.
But employee accounts contrast with those of employers. Employees at Target and Walmart say they are anxious about working in overcrowded environments, increased workloads, understaffed stores and inadequate sanitation procedures, the Guardian reported.
Unemployment remains a larger issue for the U.S. economy, with more than 3 million unemployment claims recorded nationwide during the week ending March 21, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It's not unprecedented for retailers to streamline hiring operations to meet high demand. Employers in the same situation as Walmart might take a cue from their seasonal hiring protocols, like using technology to create a faster candidate experience.