The Kroger Co. has expanded its roster of wage-earning employee benefits to include personal financial counseling, a move that the nation’s largest supermarket operator called a first for a U.S. retailer.
Under the effort, Cincinnati-based Kroger is piloting a new program to expand its partnership with Goldman Sachs Ayco, the workforce financial planning unit of financial services giant Goldman Sachs, to support hourly associates as they look to achieve financial goals. Plans call for the program to first be tested with employees in Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton and Fry’s divisions as well as Cincinnati-based associates in supply chain, manufacturing and offices.
Both salaried and now wage-based associates will have free access to financial coaches and supportive programming as well as online tools and resources. The confidential service will provide associates with one-on-one financial coaches who have been trained to help associates assess their total financial picture and provide guidance on financial decisions, Kroger noted.
“Kroger is the first retailer in the nation to offer this kind of benefit to hourly workers,” according to Theresa Monti, vice president of Total Rewards at Kroger. “We know financial wellness is essential to all of us. This is an important way we are improving our associate experience, empowering anyone to thrive and grow at Kroger.”
Through the service, associates can set up a savings plan, learn how to avoid common financial pitfalls and explore opportunities to maximize all available company benefits. They also will be able to review and track their progress toward achieving their financial objectives with support from the financial coaches. Kroger said the coaches can advise associates seeking to range a variety of goals, from buying a home and paying down debt to managing estate planning.
Associates in the divisions piloting the program also will be able share their feedback, which Kroger said will enhance the experience before it’s rolled out to more associates next year.
“With six generations making up our workforce, we know our associates are in different places on their financial journey,” stated Tim Massa, senior vice president and chief people officer at Kroger. “Kroger has a strong culture of investing in our associates, from incremental wage increases and targeted professional development programs to holistic wellness training and a best-in-class educational benefit. Our work with Ayco is just one way we are creating a place where our associates can feed their future and reach their full potential.”
Overall, The Kroger Co. has approximately 420,000 employees and operates more than 2,700 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 35 states.