Jamila is a training coordinator with ShopRite who works in one of the stores in our area. Jamila has been with ShopRite for over seven years, and lives with her family in Budd Lake.
Jamila, please tell us what you do. As a training coordinator for a store of close to 300 employees, I recruit, interview, hire and coordinate the training/onboarding of new hires, to ensure they get the proper training to effectively serve our customers. I am proud to also have been involved with the on-boarding of new employees for the new super store in Lafayette, which opened last October.
How has your work changed since the start of the pandemic? Our company has been extremely busy since the start of the breakout in our area in March. The stores were incredibly busy as customers feared there would be shortages and a number of employees took time off and leaves of absence out of concern for their personal safety and the need to care for loved ones at home. We quickly had to hire a number of people, which provided some relief to those who recently lost their jobs, or who had their work in the “gig economy” dry up. We saw the number of applicants double for a time in March. With a large number of new hires to onboard, compounded by the increased traffic in the stores, there was a bit of a stress point. With the support of everyone, we have been able to now appropriately staff the store for our current needs.As a member of the Human Resources team, I am a point person for many associates who have questions regarding policies relating to leaves of absence due to the pandemic, benefits and so on. I do the best I can to answer their questions and kick it up to the management team, to ensure that everyone stays in the loop, and has the correct information.
What can you tell us about the support you have received from your employer? RoNetco ShopRite ownership has been terrific. They recognized right away we were an essential business, and our neighbors were counting on us to be open, and provide food and other supplies for their families.They have taken safety very seriously and have set aside exclusive registers for the elderly during our morning hours, displayed signage for employees and customers, provided sanitizer wipes and gel for associates and customers, marked the floors for “social distancing” and placed Plexiglass in cashier lines. Employees are given new face masks every day, and have their temperature taken before the start of their shift. In addition to “hazard pay”, overnight employees receive a free breakfast and daytime personnel receive free lunches. Leadership has been very supportive and it has been an “all-hands-on-deck” approach since the beginning.
What is your view of Governor Murphy’s restrictions and what is being done at the Federal level? Governor Murphy has done a very good job. We know we can’t get back to normal until we all work together to end this pandemic. This has been quite a stressful time at work and on the home front, making sure the students in my family are keeping on top of their school work as well. One of the hardest parts of this has been unlearning certain behaviors, like hugging my family when I get home from work. Now, we have to wait until I’m fully changed, and cleaned up before having any contact with them.
What can you tell us about the customers? Fortunately things have calmed down a bit as the stores have become less crowded and our supply chain is slowly coming back to normal. Customers have been very appreciative of our employees and some customers have made face masks for them.
What tips can you give us regarding shopping at the supermarket today? We ask everyone to follow the rules including wearing masks and continue to remain six feet away from others. We have good supplies now for most everything, including chicken, so there is no need to be part of the morning rush. Mid-day and afternoons are the least crowded.
This interview with Jamila was conducted by Andy Meissner on April 23. We thank Jamila very much for sharing her story with us.