Human Resources Basics

Human Resources (HR) is a field and a business department covering many practices that are essential for employee satisfaction and improved performance as well as for fulfilling organizational ends and legal requirements.  This page will point to some basic HR practices and issues.  Other wikis will allow more specialized discussions and links.  In addition, HR managers have maintained an HR listserve, which will be transitioned to an HR group on the present (cgn.coop) website.

Each of the following articles is linked below under Related Content:

The basics of personnel files are covered in "Personnel Files: What and why," by Carolee Colter

For those co-ops that have not had an HR audit at all or not recently, the content and value of such a review are discussed in “Why a Human Resources Audit,” by Carolee Colter and Helena O’Connor.

Through the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), since 2009 food co-op HR managers from across the country have been meeting to share knowledge and improve practices. The 2012 gathering, was reported in "Stronger Together Works in HR Too," by Kari Mitchel. The 2013 HR managers conference was held in March in Sacramento, Cal.

An especially important component of HR policy, and at times the focus of much attention, is the grievance process.  Carolee Colter recommends best practices in “A Cooperative Grievance Procedure” (2010).

Employee surveys can contribute a great deal to determining and addressing workplace concerns.  Carolee Colter and Mary Courteau (2009) discussed the methods and outcomes in “Counting on Co-op Employees.”

One major outcome of good HR management should be excellent customer service. Mari Roseman of the National Cooperative Grocer Association, in “Two Faces of Customer Service,” suggests “five way to ensure you have great customer service (in Zingerman’s Guide to Great Service, by Ari Weinzweig), interpreted here for co-ops: define it, teach it, live, measure it, reward it.  We’d add: hire for it.”

Covering employee pay in co-ops, the 2006 report, “What We Pay,” by Carolee Colter and Peg Nolan, still has relevance.

Questions about merit pay were addressed by Carolee Colter (2003) in “Does Merit Pay Really Work?”

Multiple food co-ops contributed to developing a “livable wage” – discussed in “How We Built a Cooperative Model for a Livable Wage,” by Carolee Colter (2006).”