HEB: Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic

By Michael Johnson

Despite the gradual removal of restrictions that have been in place thanks to the pandemic, HEB, one of the many large grocery chains within central Texas, has been making all kinds of changes to its policies, initially struggling to navigate COVID-19 due to the bar being raised in order keep shelves stocked and keeping departments filled with employees.

Ashley Diaz, the service lead of the Taylor HEB’s central checkout, has only recently come into this position, and has been made to handle tasks that normally would fall upon cashiers and baggers.  “The endemic has brought with it its own set of challenges as far as we are getting a huge number of younger generations coming in, so the lack of experience currently is proving to create a difficult time.” Diaz said.

Ashley Diaz believes that the lack of experience, as well as losing her more experienced employees to better jobs that are now available to them have been the biggest detriment to keeping things efficient on the front end. However, she remains on the side of optimism, as this loss of knowledgeable staff is making room for fresh minds. “We are losing life experience, but we are able to mold and create amazing Partners through proper training and time, so this process has been like a double-edged sword.” Diaz said.

Even as the end of this pandemic is being reached, COVID’s negative impact on workers has  heavily affected other departments as well. Nathan Dunn, an employee from the Taylor HEB’s Produce department has noticed the lasting sting of this pandemic on him and his fellow workers. “The pandemic has decreased quality because now fields are trying to get the product out to us as fast as possible. We are getting quality that is lower than we are used to seeing.Dealing with quality with fields has a lot of factors to consider, but the downfall of workers in these industries are making it harder for products to get out to us.” Dunn said.

Outside of training new hires and keeping product on shelves fully stocked, another impact this endemic has made on this company’s policies is by having them completely overhaul their time and attendance policy. Jackie Garcia, the admin of the Taylor HEB, makes certain that there is a great amount of emphasis placed upon this transition between systems, as they can be difficult to navigate for both new and current employees alike. “When COVID first hit about two years ago, how we handled this situation was that we allowed our partners to have off for ten days. Time and Attendance wouldn’t be tracked then. Now that COVID is still here, but is not as severe of an outbreak, our policy has changed so that with COVID, even if you test positive or negative, you will still be paid, but it will only be up to five days and will be count against you for attendance if you miss a scheduled shift.” Garcia said.

“For Taylor HEB, we have been able to maintain Partners to stay due to our leadership and how well we treat our Partners. We are constantly doing career fairs and on the spot hiring.” Garcia said, looking optimistic towards the store’s future employees and future endeavors as the end of this pandemic reaches ever closer.

Interested in becoming an HEB Partner? Be sure to check out their Careers website to look into opportunities at local stores as an employee in one of the various departments within the store, and also the multitude of opportunities working with them from a corporate perspective as well.

(Credit: Michael Johnson)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *