Woolworths Group, Australia’s leading chain of supermarkets and grocery stores, is giving workers more than A$50 million in company shares and gift cards to reward them for working through the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 100,000 full-time and part-time staff in Australia and New Zealand, or around half the company’s workforce, will be given up to A$750 worth of Woolworths shares each, equating to around 22 shares based on today’s share price of A$34.91.
The reward to workers will see Woolworths emerge with the largest number of employee shareholders in Australia, the Financial Review reported. Currently, about 20,000 employees hold Woolworths shares.
“From protests in Hong Kong, droughts and bushfires in Australia to the devastating volcanic activity in New Zealand and finally COVID-19, we have pulled together as a team to support each other, our customers and the communities in which we live and operate,” said Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci, who was appointed Managing Director of Woolworths Food Group in March 2015 and Managing Director and CEO of Woolworths Group in February 2016.
“We could think of no better way to thank and recognise our team than by making them shareholders in our group.
“The awarding of shares is not only recognition for our team’s efforts over the last year, but also acknowledgement that our team has a critical role to play going forward as we all adjust to the new normal.”
We're hiring up to 20,000 new roles across our businesses over the next month.
This will allow us to better meet the unprecedented demand for food and drinks across the country and also help scale up our online delivery to support the changing shopping needs of the community. pic.twitter.com/cGlCnnKmm7
— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 26, 2020
About 30,000 eligible full-time staff will receive up to A$750 of Woolworths shares regardless of the size of their salaries, and about 70,000 part-time staff will be allocated shares on a pro-rata basis.
Full-time and part-time staff employed in Australia before March 2020 and who do not participate in the short term incentive scheme will also receive a A$250 Woolworths gift card and Australian casual staff will receive a A$100 gift card.
The anxiety caused by the onset of coronavirus saw panic buying and hoarding, which boosted Woolworths’ sales by as much as 40% in March.
New employees have also not been left out. Thousands of casual staff in Australia who joined the company on or after March 1 to help the group navigate the surge in demand during the coronavirus pandemic will be able to keep their 10% staff discount until the end of December, irrespective of whether they stay with the company.