New Livable Wage and Benefits Plan
We learned though a staff satisfaction survey done in early 2015 that pay was a strong concern for many of Wheatsville’s staff due to Austin becoming more expensive. We took this issue very seriously and convened a Wage Task Force, made up of interested staff from all parts of the co-op, to help us address the challenge of paying employees a livable wage while balancing our other important financial obligations.
The Wage Task Force met for several consecutive weeks to work through the wage issue. In late summer 2015, we enlisted the aid of our friends at National Co-op Grocers to help us come up with a workable solution. They shared their NCG Co-op Livable Wage and Benefits model, which we applied to the wage situation at Wheatsville. Once we applied the Austin-specific costs to the equation, we found that a worker in Austin getting benefits that offset their health care and food costs, as ours do, would need to earn $13.01 an hour. Once we saw and understood this number, we committed to making this new wage plan a reality for all of our staff.
We learned that increasing wages to $13.01 ensures that all full-time staff members are able to afford a one bedroom apartment in Austin, have health insurance, eat on the USDA moderate food plan, have a cell phone and transportation, and 5% for savings.
The new Livable Wage and Benefits Plan was implemented on January 4, 2016. The plan, which increased wages for over 80% of hourly staff, ensures that every Wheatsville employee earns a living wage of at least $13.01 after his or her introductory period. The new plan will also add benefits to our co-op business.
We expect to:
• Retain more of our great staff
• Attract more qualified and experienced candidates for open positions, and
• Create a stronger more positive and team-oriented co-op culture overall.
The Livable Wage and Benefits plan is a huge financial change at our co-op. The Wage Task Force, store managers, supervisors and myself came up with the staffing plan we would need to be able to afford this change yet implement it quickly. It involves an all staff effort to get more done with the same number of people and to become a highly efficient organization in the process. This is the path that all other successful livable wage co-ops have taken in order to be fiscally sound.
Our staff is working in new, smarter and more efficient ways to make this work while still delivering the friendliest store in town that you have grown to love. We will need commitment from our staff, owners, customers and the community to help make this bold new plan work.
I’m proud of what we’ve done here at Wheatsville to address a serious concern for our staff and our community and your patronage will help us ensure it’s a success!
Wheatsville Food Co-op
Chief Executive Grocer