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Kroger yesterday announced "a more than $770 million incremental investment in its associates during 2023. The company will use this investment to raise average hourly rates, improve healthcare options, build new training and development opportunities, and more."

The company said that this "builds on the $1.9 billion incremental investments in wages and comprehensive benefits Kroger has made since 2018, which has raised the company's average hourly rate to $18 or $23.50 per hour with comprehensive benefits."

The benefits include:  "A world-class educational benefit program that offers associates up to $21,000 toward continuing education opportunities … Affordable and accessible healthcare options, which include free counseling through the company's Well-Being Assistant … (and) First-of-its-kind free financial coaching services available to all hourly associates."

"Our associates enable our success, and we are committed to investing in theirs," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "For so many Kroger represents a first job, a new beginning or a change in career path. Continuing to raise wages and provide excellent benefits to our associates is one way we demonstrate how much we value and respect their contributions."

"Investing in our associates' holistic well-being is an essential part of what makes Kroger an employer of choice, and ultimately becomes an investment in our customers and communities," said Tim Massa, Kroger's SVP and chief people officer. "When we think about how we build our benefits, we want to enable every associate to thrive financially and emotionally – both in their careers and at home. We look forward to continuing to celebrate our associates and the many ways they show up for our customers and each other every day." 

KC's View:

I don't mean to be cynical about this, but moves like this by Kroger have to be designed to help convince regulators that its merger with Albertsons will not be negative for employees, that it will continue to invest in wages and benefits.

Which is not to suggest that this move is meaningless.  Far from it.  Everything that Kroger (or any retailer, for that matter) can do to create a culture of caring - in which front line employees are treated as the essential assets that they are - is a good thing.