Many of you may have noticed the back of our black staff t-shirts which state, “Sell more good food; Create more good jobs; Do more good in the community.”
As competition in the organic market gets stronger and unemployment remains low, we know that one of our best competitive advantages is our staff. We want to retain our employees and attract strong new candidates. We’re committed to making their jobs, “good jobs”—interesting and challenging, with a pleasant work environment, growth opportunities, good benefits and pay that is fair and livable.
Paid Parental Leave is a hot-ticket item in the world of employment. While Just Food cannot compete with our local college employers or the large tech corporations, which offer weeks and months of paid leave, in April 2016, we implemented a new policy entitling new parents or those adding to their family one work-week of paid leave. It’s a start!
Living wage is an equally hot topic and has been much discussed in the co-op world and elsewhere. As part of our Fiscal Year 2016 strategic plan and in accordance with our newly-developed Total Compensation Philosophy, we created an implementation plan to offer Living Wage. We are pleased that it will be effective with the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017 (July 4, 2016).
In January 2016, Just Food Co-op adopted the MIT Living Wage Model for Rice County as the basis for defining a Living Wage, with consideration to local factors. Our definition of living wage is:
• The hourly rate that single individuals must earn to support themselves if they are working full-time, with a multiplier of 1.05 (5%) above the Rice County rate
The 5% increase above Rice County rate acknowledges the higher-than-county-average cost of housing in Northfield. Currently, Rice County MIT Hourly Living Wage Rate is $10.30. With the 5% increase, it comes to $10.81, and since we like to be tidy, we have rounded the Living Wage Rate to $11.00—a full 7% above the Rice County rate.
Beginning July 4, 2016, Just Food Co-op will be paying a Living Wage Rate to all entry- level employees who successfully pass their 90-day Initial Employment Period (IEP). Just Food’s entire wage scale was revamped for all levels, taking into consideration living wage, local competing employers, and Twin Cities’ co-op rates.
On April 28, current employees attended an all-store meeting during which the new compensation plan was communicated. Each employee received a letter providing information about their rate of pay as of July 4, 2016. All current employees will earn at least 25 cents an hour more than new hires who have completed their IEPs in the same job level.
Our wage scale and definition of Living Wage will be reviewed annually. We already have an aspirational goal for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019). Earlier this year, National Cooperative Grocers (NCG) and CDS Consulting, consultants for co-ops, announced their new NCG/CDS Living Wage model. We would love to use its more robust assumptions (such as a Living Wage being calculated to include saving 12% of earnings), but it is not yet feasible. We will continue to work on our productivity, efficiencies, sales growth and membership expansion. We encourage everyone to help make us a great employer.
Written by Sara Payne, Human Resources Manager at Just Food Co-op