Former Kroger employees who left the company have been getting some surprising texts and emails. The supermarket operator—the nation’s largest by sales—wants them back, and it isn’t being shy about reaching out and letting them know.
That is not generally the way things work, of course. Once you leave a company, chances are slim it will reach out later asking you to return. You might have left your boss in a lurch, for one thing. But the lowest unemployment rate in 53 years means companies are getting creative about filling open positions.
“Alumni are also a talent source,” Tim Massa, chief people officer at the grocer, told the Wall Street Journal. According to him, the Cincinnati-based company has tried hard since the pandemic ended to stay in touch with ex-employees and has seen a significant number of them return.
For instance, the company persuaded Tish Spurlock, a former recruiter at Kroger, to come back after reaching out to her, the Journal reported. Spurlock had left for a technology firm but returned to Kroger in a new role with a higher salary.
Associated Wholesale Grocers meanwhile has reached out to ex-employees through LinkedIn and Facebook, according to the Journal. The company got more aggressive with rehiring after seeing how well it worked—returning workers generally hit their targets months before new ones do.
Of course, fears of a looming recession remain, credit card debt in the U.S. is rising while savings dwindle amid high inflation, and headlines about mass layoffs at big-name companies have been inescapable in recent months. But those layoffs have often been concentrated in the tech industry, where many companies overhired to meet surging demand during the pandemic.
Last month, Amazon began firing 18,000 people, Microsoft let go of 10,000, and Google parent Alphabet slashed 12,000 jobs. That followed Facebook owner Meta cutting 11,000 workers in November. Meta is widely expected to cut more jobs in the near future as part of its “year of efficiency.” Last year more than 150,000 tech workers were laid off, according to tracking website Layoffs.fyi. But many other tech companies are still hiring, and laid-off tech workers have generally not stayed unemployed for long.
Across the U.S. economy, many workers who left their jobs during the Great Resignation ended up with higher salaries at new jobs. Understaffed employers, meanwhile, have felt compelled to boost salaries or offer higher ones to lure in new talent.
Or in the case of Kroger and others, reach out to workers who quit.
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