Great Idea: Evaluating Staff Treatment Policies

david-woo-vBoard president David Woo of Weaver’s Way food co-op in Philadelphia, Penn. said that while the staff treatment policy is part and parcel of all the management limitation policies, he thinks that this particular policy can also function as an example to the greater community. It shows that the co-op values its employees and has high standards for human resources. “Consumer co-ops should be good employers and you need to have good policies for staff treatment. The staff is an important component of the co-op’s success.”

He said that their co-op is currently studying what other co-ops are doing and will be reviewing their staff treatment policy this fall. “The board has to have a balanced look at staff treatment. We have to balance the interests of the business and the members and staff,” Woo said. Part of what has motivated the board to review and possibly change their staff treatment policy is that the size of the co-op has grown from one location to three. “Our co-op has historically been small, and everyone was neighbors and friends. Now we have different relationships along with professional human resources. The challenge is to be fair,” he said.

Woo acknowledged that staff treatment can be a potentially fraught issue because each board member has their own anecdotal experiences that inform their ideas of staff treatment. “That’s not an appropriate way to get information. Before you make decisions you need to get data based on research. Your own experiences are your feelings, and this needs to be done objectively. Try not to apply your personal likes and dislikes to the staff treatment policies,” Woo said. Also as part of the Weavers Way review is a study of employee satisfaction surveys which gives the board a more comprehensive view of employment at the co-op. Like any board decisions to be made, it’s important to put preparation into it ahead of time, Woo said.

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