When Burnsville-based Valley Natural Foods was named one of the Top 100 Workplaces in Minnesota by The Star Tribune, it marked a first-time honor for the co-op and solidified what its employees have always suspected: this 37-year-old, community-owned mainstay knows a thing or two about cultivating a positive work environment. Looking to boost your business into “top workplace” material? Start with these five tips from Valley Natural Foods management:
1. Find the right talent.
“We invest in employee training pretty heavily,” said HR Manager Paula Sahin. But Valley Natural Foods’ talent goes beyond what employees are taught. The co-op actively seeks prospective employees with diverse skills and assets to appeal to the store’s equally diverse customer base, Sahin said.
2. Provide fair compensation.
It might seem obvious, but Valley Natural Foods tries its best to offer competitive wages and compensation benefits. “We know the market is tight and employees have choices,” explained Sahin.
3. Rally behind a worthy mission.
Valley Natural Foods is driven by a mission to promote community health. When employees are encouraged to work toward this worthwhile goal, their day job becomes about more than sales—hours spent working at the co-op become inspirational and rewarding.
4. Make time for face time.
“No one goes through their first three months here without having face-to-face contact with the general manager and HR manager,” said Susan McGaughey, the store’s general manager, noting it’s important that managers step out of the office and onto the store floor, and get to know employees.
5. Show appreciation.
Valley Natural Foods treats employees to picnics in the summer and bowling events in the winter, for example, to let them know they’re appreciated. “These are also great times to get to know your co-workers outside of work, and it makes for a stronger team,” added McGaughey. “It’s really a family that we create here with our employees, and we’re all here to support one another.”