Happenings in Human Resources


Honest Weight employs approximately 200 people who join with member-owners to contribute to the operation of our store — from culling produce to managing the busy front end. The human resources side of our Co-op is something not often talked about, but since it is a critical aspect of our store operations, we are highlighting their accomplishments from the past month, thanks to a report to the Board of Directors by HR Director Rhoda Pickus. Like us, we’re sure you’ll be impressed with all that is done to support our Co-op’s employees!


At the October Board meeting, HR took the group through the many employee activities for the month, beginning with a Paylocity® refresher-training course to give guidance on the Co-op’s time reporting and payroll system. The course was a drop in one-on-one training model to help individual employees navigate the payroll system and to troubleshoot issues that come up in the process. Employees might ask, for example, “How do I request paid time off?”, “How do I get a hard copy of an old payroll check?” or, “How do I change my direct deposit?” If any employee needs a refresher in this area, just see Rhoda, Mary Lou, or Alexis. When it comes to payroll, there are no dumb questions.


Because we’re all in it together in terms of marketing, the Co-op hosted a ‘Food Friday,’ aka Product Education, for employees for eight weeks. Each Friday, Managers and vendors talked to employees about the extensive food products we sell, “so everyone could learn more about our merchandise,” according to David Aube. When we’re all on the same page and educate ourselves on the Co-op’s many products, we all become better in responding to shoppers’ questions – and maybe find a little something else we’re interested in, too.


As part of our Shared Health product with CDPHP, we are required to offer programs to benefit our employees’ wellness that inspires healthy choices. In partnership with CDPHP®, our health care provider, we offered employees a six-week Walking Challenge. It’s sometimes easy to over-indulge, being surrounded by such great food, especially the grab-and-go and food bar, not to mention the artisan beer selection. When that happens, it’s time to plug in the pedometer, get moving, and stop grazing off the many yummy spills in the granola and nuts section of the Bulk Department. A total of 59 employees signed up to participate in the program. (Go, team! Next year, we’ll take on the marathon!)

HR cares about helping our employees become – and stay – as healthy as possible. To practice a little preventive medicine and promote health awareness, HR again partnered with CDPHP®, this time to offer employees and member-owners a free Biometric Screening. This gave participants an overview of some major health indicators, like blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).


The sensitive topic of harassment in the workplace is part of what gets talked about in the twenty-first century organization. It results when an individual’s abuse of institutional or cultural power creates hostile work conditions and interferes with a person’s ability to carry out their responsibilities and be a fully contributing member to an organization. There can be vertical or lateral harassment among peer workers. (For a look at the readings that were used in this workshop, see the Anti-Discrimination Harassment Guide).

To educate employees on the meaning and prevention of harassment, and to comply with governmental mandates in the workplace, HR presented a workshop in “Harassment Training for Supervisors.” Approximately 47 managers, assistant managers, shift leads, and supervisors participated in this initiative.


The Co-op’s Recruitment and Retention Specialist, Alexis DeLaTorre, attended a conference sponsored by Clear Company®, our applicant-tracking software company. Clear Company’s 2017 Talent Success Conference focused on best practices for recruiting and hiring the strongest candidates and ways to increase retention. Benefits Specialist, Mary Lou Nolan-Gillham, attended a number of seminars and webinars to prepare for the January 1, 2018 New York State Paid Family Leave Act. Paid Family Leave is a New York State law that starts on January 1, 2018. The Co-op, in compliance with the law, will begin offering Paid Family Leave to qualified employees and begin NYS mandated employee deductions to fund this benefit with the first paycheck in 2018.

Mary Lou has been in contact with our insurance carrier and payroll processing company to ensure that she is well-versed in the law and able to answer employee questions when they arise. We’re not operating out of the back of someone’s car, as we did over 40 years ago when we were founded. We’re a complex organization, requiring keeping up with larger requirements, now that we have several layers of institutional structure. This legislation makes it possible for employees to care for infants or ill parents, pick up the slack when a partner is in active military service, and more, knowing they will retain their jobs and health insurance.

The Many Advantages of Working at The Co-op

Finally, it’s well-known that the Co-op is a great place to work. The Co-op offers many advantages to its employees, like flexible work/life balance, community, impressive medical health insurance options, with plans for our starting hourly wage to be one dollar over NYS minimum wage, a generous store discount, and a voice in what goes on in our business. Employees have all-staff meetings twice a month where they bring up their concerns to their Staff Reps, who then report back to the Board and make requests for changes. Employees who are also member-owners can vote at Membership Meetings and serve on committees. We have a unique board that allows for employee members. According to Bylaw 464.3, “The Personnel Committee shall be comprised of three representatives of non-management employees selected by non-management employees, three representatives of management (including up to two Human Resources staff per job descriptions) selected by management, a member of the Board of Directors selected by the Board, and three Member-Owners selected by the Board,” This model helps to an ensure a diversity of input on the Employee Manual. Collective representation is not something we take lightly here.

Plus, where else can you find such a critical mass of unique, diverse, perceptive, politically-astute, socially aware, community-minded, health-conscious, and environmentally-concerned individuals – some with intricately-detailed and colorful tattoos – all in one beautiful, Home Grown place? If you or someone you know wants to join the Co-op’s team and reap these and all the other employment benefits, please check our website for a listing of current open positions. Honest Weight Employment.

Donna Aitoro-Williams is a writer, teacher, parent, wayfarer, and drummer who lives and works in the Capital District. One woman. Many hats. She has been a member of the Honest Weight Food Coop community since 1991.