To Our Community,
I have two brief updates I would like to share with all of our members and shoppers today.
White River Junction Store
The Co-op is a very important business in the Upper Valley Community. What makes this so? Our guiding principles, our team spirit, and most importantly our community—our valued team members, member/owners, and shoppers. Yesterday was a difficult day for our Co-op team—from the leadership team through to our colleagues at the White River Junction Store. But as we worked throughout the day to determine the best solution for the store, just as we did for the Kitchen and CCM earlier, I can truly say no one is more proud of our organization than I am.
No one wants to hear about a COVID case at the Co-op, but our teams handled the entire event with grace, professionalism, discretion, and a commitment to community safety, just as I knew they would.
Our thoughts are with all of our colleagues who have been affected. I look forward to the store opening again.
As I am sure you know, many businesses around us are struggling to fill open positions. This is a reality in the Upper Valley and nationwide. Even fast food restaurants, not exactly the paragon of employee opportunity, are offering large sign-on bonuses and other shiny incentives.
Like everyone, our Co-op is struggling in this area. The challenges we face in finding people who want to work in the retail food sector are intense. Several of our teams have been working on this issue for several months. And yet, despite our best efforts at changing how positions are advertised, simplifying the application process, an intensive review of compensation, and expanding the venues for posting jobs, the fact remains it is very difficult to attract individuals to work in our industry. This simple fact impacts everyone differently but some themes are the same—long hours that involve overtime, the inability to take time off to recharge one’s battery, physical and mental fatigue, scheduling challenges that impact the hours a department can remain open, and the ability to respond to business interruptions caused by events such a case of COVID.
To tackle this, next week I am holding an employment summit with two members from my leadership team and our store managers. The goal is to roll up our sleeves, check egos at the door, be creative, put employee needs in the forefront of our thoughts, and think outside the box to develop practical solutions. We are one Co-op with multiple locations and business units. We need to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow, and not relive yesterday’s battles.
This is just getting started, so there will be much more to come. If you have thoughts or ideas you would like to share, you know my mantra—speak up! Reach out to me anytime.
Thank you to all of our members and shoppers. Your support is what keeps us strong and resilient during challenging times. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves, and we look forward to serving you in our stores and at the curbside.
Onward and upward,