I worked at Kroger full-time
There are some really nice people here and there throughout the company.
Lots of different technologies (albeit outdated) supporting many different areas of business, so there is a lot for an entry-level person to learn.
You might have the opportunity to bounce to another team every couple years if you're looking to learn something new.
It's a great place if you want to settle down, quit learning, and just ride out a job for the rest of your career.
The employee discount is nice.
I'd imagine this is a decent place to be a contractor at. No overtime depending on your contracting firm. Likely working on developing new applications.
The option to buy vacation time is really nice.
They give a lot to charity.
Management loves process and paperwork, having a process for everything. Management senses an issue with a project? Let's add in some process and paperwork. Need a 5 minute chat with someone from another team in IT? Just spend 15 min and fill out this form requesting their time. Needless to say, Kroger IT is in no way agile except for maybe 5% of their projects. However, every team will claim they're agile because they hold 45 min stand-ups every morning.
Terrible work-life balance. Management tends to over-promise to make themselves look good, often without listening to your feedback. This means forced overtime. Overtime that is in _addition_ to 24x7x365 support overtime; even if you're on a "rotation" you could be expected to be available at all times.
Most (not all) people are just riding out their careers (to be fair, likely burnt out due to the overtime, processes, and paperwork). They're done learning, done innovating, done caring, and, due to this, generally aren't great to work with if you have a dependency on them. You'd think managers would help in this area considering it's their job. They won't. They expect you to continue nagging the other teams' managers if you have a dependency on them.
Due to this, a majority of a developer's job can end up being nagging other teams to get things done. Managers reinforce this by basing your merit increases and promotions on this ability instead of technical ability, which is reflected in the quality of the applications. You'll see many (not all) higher level developers without a lick of technical competency. This is how. Kroger has lost many good developers over the past few years because of this.
Pay. Even after reading the above, the job might be worth it if you were paid a premium. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Also, negotiate for pay up front, because once they have you locked in you likely won't see a significant pay increase until you leave the company.
Advice to Management
If you want to be the best IT organization in retail, then you need to attract the best IT people in retail. For that to work, you either need to jack your pay way up or make your IT organization a great place to work. I'd suggest the latter. As is, you absolutely will not keep top talent around for the long-term.
For the latter, you can start here:
- At least enforce some tenets of agile from the top down. I'm not suggesting you blindly start drinking every bit of agile kool-aid you can, but at least try to apply the tenets. "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" comes to mind. Applied correctly, and with good people, agile can be a great thing.
- Focus on work-life balance. Stop promoting people into leadership that say things like, "I'm so proud of you for all the long hours you all put in for this project." Such statements should be more like, "We realized we were about to ruin several weeks of your lives so we extended the project deadline or eliminated some scope. Sorry for over-committing."
- Place more focus on technical competency.
- If you consistently hear complaints about a team being difficult to work with, then do something about it. Hire more people to help them out. Get rid of some of their dead weight. Do something.
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