Continuing the Work for Livable Wages

By Zac Hamlin, Human Resources Manager

By Zac Hamlin, Human Resources Manager

In the winter issue of Connections I wrote about the ways that your co-op was changing in order to offer livable wages and create more co-op careers.

There were early successes with this experiment. I am proud to report that those successes continue to roll in. Turnover has ground to a halt, and nearly all employees have completed the trainings required to earn the livable wage rate. While we continue to fine tune operations, our next step is mitigating the wage compression created by our new approach to compensation.

According to the Kansas Department of Labor wage survey (and prior to implementing our Livable Wage Initiative), The Merc Co+op was already leading the market in frontline worker pay and lagging the market in supervisory pay. Despite that, your co-op chose to invest labor dollars into frontline staff, and asked supervisors to wait. Tenured staff and supervisors understood that this was a tall order, that the work would be more difficult and the reward unclear.

“It takes a village” is a saying that applies to your co-op as well. The woman that codes invoices and the fellow who orders apples are just as critical to our success as the stocker, cashier and barista that you see on the forefront. Their tasks may be less visible, but their contribution is no less valuable. 

Growing sales, customer count and new owners are the things that offset labor expenses, and that’s where you come in. Thank you for choosing to shop our co-op! Your participation makes it possible to recognize, retain and reward staff on all levels of the this organization.