The Viroqua Food Cooperative has a reputation for excelling in customer service, product knowledge, and genuine care for the community in which it serves. These standards are set by the Co-op and executed by a very dedicated and vibrant group of employees. That’s why the Co-op is so committed to ensuring that we provide a work place as vibrant and brilliant as the people we employ.
My role as Human Resources Manager is to execute excellence in the work place for our employees. One area that I am constantly working on is compensation. The Viroqua Food Cooperative is committed to actively, purposefully and intentionally making positive changes to our compensation offerings. To ensure our hourly wages are competitive for the industry in which we work, we research wages locally and nationally, and then compare ourselves to national food cooperative standards for hourly wages. When we find discrepancies in our wages, we correct. For example, in 2014 after a salary survey was conducted by fellow National Cooperative Grocers (NCG) Cooperatives, we found our barista wages were lower than the average. We made immediate adjustments to our barista base wages in order to be competitive and correct.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you a few facts about our employees and VFC’s benefits package:
- Over the last 2 years we have added employment opportunities and increased our staff size from 53 employees to 63 employees.
- 80% of our employees are at full time status 30 hours or more.
- Over 48% of our workforce is cross trained in other departments. This cross training has been essential for overall operations of the VFC. It provides employees with greater job satisfaction, and allows for diversity in their job.
- Recently we created new lead positions in our deli to address the growing needs of the deli, and to provide our employees growth opportunities within the VFC.
- To assist staff in retirement planning, we implemented a 401K plan with an experienced financial planner and green investments for employees to utilize.
- All full time employees receive a Short Term Disability plan 100% paid for by the VFC.
- To address the complexities of healthcare insurance, the VFC now offers 2 comprehensive group medical insurance plans to all full time employees. One has a higher deductible plan and one with a lower deductible plan. The VFC contributes 80% of the employee’s monthly premium.
- All employees accrue Paid Time off Benefit which increases with longevity. Based on a 40 hour work week employees within year 1-2 years of employment earn 2 weeks of PTO, 3-4 years earn 3 weeks of PTO, 5- 9 years earn 4 weeks of PTO, and 10 or more years of service earns you 5 weeks of PTO.
- Paid breaks. Any employee who works 6.5 hours or more in a shift receives a 30 minute paid break.
- All employees are eligible to contribute to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). The VFC contributes up to $100 towards this account.
- Let us not forget the benefit we love the most… our food discounts! All employees receive 10% above cost on case purchases, and between 10% - 20% off all purchases in the store.
It is the good intention of the Viroqua Food Cooperative to continue to grow our hourly wages and offer a great benefits package. We will continue to consciously raise the bar for compensation and expand our employee offerings.