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Not all is down-and-out with U.S. companies during the coronavirus outbreak, and furloughed hotel workers could provide much-needed labor in healthcare, grocery, and e-commerce supply chains until the economy gets back to baseline.

While hotel room demand plummets with the ongoing spread of coronavirus, Hilton launched a program this week to find temporary work for its tens of thousands of furloughed employees.

The global hotel company employs 60,000 people directly and 200,000 at its franchised properties across the U.S. As a result of coronavirus, Hilton has had to furlough “tens of thousands” of those team members, a company spokesperson said Monday. But Hilton has spent the last couple of weeks working with companies seeing higher demand during the public health crisis to find temporary work for hotel employees.

“In Hilton’s 100-year history, we’ve never experienced anything like the current situation — and as a result, demand for travel has decreased in the short term. When we learned other leading companies were stepping up hiring to meet pandemic-related demand, Hilton was eager to partner with them to provide expedited access to opportunities for our team members,” Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta said in a statement to Skift. “As I’ve told our teams, this too shall pass — and when it does, we hope to welcome our team members back with the hospitality and warmth our world needs so much right now.”

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Through an online portal, furloughed Hilton workers now have an expedited recruiting and onboarding path to companies like Amazon, CVS, Walgreens, and grocery stores like Albertsons and Publix. Hotel demand has cratered in recent weeks, and Nassetta told President Donald Trump in a meeting last week global occupancy rates could fall to 10 percent while world leaders work to halt the spread of coronavirus.

But coronavirus has also led to significant demand increases at e-commerce companies like Amazon, grocery stores, and healthcare-related retailers like Walgreens and CVS Health. Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 people at its U.S. fulfillment centers and delivery networks. Albertsons has openings for 30,000 positions, including personal shoppers and grocery delivery drivers. CVS is looking to hire more than 50,000 at distribution centers and retail stores in response to surging healthcare needs.

“CVS Health is a critical resource for health care, prescriptions, and other supplies in communities across the country, and we’ll continue to be here for customers, members, and patients in these trying times,” a CVS spokesperson said. “Hilton’s team members are a ready and well-trained workforce, and we can see them helping us address the urgent and significant healthcare demands of the American people during this crisis.”

The hiring spree comes at a time when in-person job fairs are a nonstarter, as several U.S. states have enacted shelter-in-place advisories to keep people at home. CVS has adapted its recruiting and onboarding process to now include virtual job fairs, interviews, and tryouts.

CVS is also working with Marriott, which announced Sunday plans to furlough two-thirds of its U.S.-based corporate team on top of tens of thousands of hotel staff, to find temporary work for impacted employees. While most of the temporary work positions are expected to be entry-level, CVS is also hiring pharmacy and clinical workers.

“Customer demand for healthcare, prescription medications, and other supplies has remained robust,” the CVS spokesperson said. “Accelerating our plans to hire more part-time and temporary workers from our clients like Hilton is meant to provide increased support and manage capacity for our existing employees on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Tags: amazon, coronavirus, hilton

Photo credit: Hilton's global headquarters in Tysons, Virginia. The hospitality giant announced Monday a plan to find temporary work for furloughed employees. Altercari / Wikimedia

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