Natural Grocers touts its competitive wages and benefit packages as reflecting its longstanding investment in employees.
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc.has increased the pay for hourly store good4uCrew members across its 162 stores in 20 states. All current hourly store associates started to receive a $1-per-hour pay increase on Oct. 4, which raised the company-wide average hourly pay for full-time employees to $18.43, including $1 per hour in Vitamin Bucks.
Effective Oct. 18, the company will also increase the starting wage for new hourly store workers. The natural and organic grocery retailer is boosting the hourly pay rate for entry-level positions to a range of $14-$18, including its Vitamin Bucks.
The pay increase comes at a time when grocers are looking not only to attract much- needed workers, but also to retain current employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the number of people quitting their jobs in the United States reached yet another record high in August, with about 4.3 million Americans leaving their jobs behind — especially in retail, where the quit rate is 4.7%.
"Competitive pay — helping provide our Crew members a wage and benefits package that we believe is one of the best in the retail grocery business — is the most meaningful investment we can make," noted Kemper Isely, Natural Grocers' chairman and co-president. "It's rooted in our Five Founding Principles, including 'Commitment to our good4u Crew,' and 'Commitment to our Community.' When we can retain people who are aligned with our values and provide growth-oriented career opportunities, we are investing in our community as well."
The company said that it's continuously evolving its support of the good4u Crew and their families, now and into the future. Some of the long-standing and recent ways the grocer is supporting its associates include:
The Natural Grocers family feeds family: Vitamin Bucks are a unique benefit within the retail industry that has evolved with the company through the years. All full-time and part-time Crew members earn $1 for each hour worked to help purchase their supplements, groceries, body care and more, and substantial Crew discounts are given in addition to Vitamin Bucks.
Beyond traditional benefit packages: Holiday pay, birthday pay, employee discounts, paid time off, a retirement savings plan (401k) with a discretionary company match, and paid parental and medical leave are some of the features of Natural Grocers' benefit packages, along with comprehensive medical, dental and vision insurance for employees and their dependents, and company-paid short-term disability insurance.
Fast-tracking career advancement: The company created its Store Manager Accelerated Readiness Training (SMART) program, a nine-month fast-track training program to promote the career advancement of highly motivated Crew members. The company also offers programs for career growth, including paid nutrition education, advancement opportunities and career development.
Caring for Crew in distress: Earlier this year, the Natural Grocers Heroes in Aprons Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established. The fund provides short-term financial assistance to good4u Crew members or their immediate family members who have encountered severe economic hardship due to sickness, natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances.
Hero Pay: In March 2020, Natural Grocers recognized associates' extraordinary efforts and commitment to keeping their communities rooted in health during the pandemic by instituting a hero pay and bonus program, which included a permanent $1-per-hour pay increase for hourly Crew members. The incremental cost of these pay enhancements was more than $18 million as of Sept. 30.
"Our mission of educating our communities about good nutrition and affordable, healthy food is more critical now than ever, and it's fueled, as always, by our Crew's dedication, talent and hard work. We're grateful to each and every one of them for sharing their unique gifts with us in this journey of making our neighborhoods and our planet a healthier place," said Natural Grocers EVP Heather Isely. "Supporting our Crew with competitive wages and a robust benefits package is just one way of showing our appreciation for the Crew's extraordinary efforts and commitment to keeping their communities rooted in health."
Current job positions open at Natural Grocers include cashier and head cashier, grocery and bulk department manager, produce department assistant, receiving manager, vitamin and body care assistant, and nutritional health coach. To apply, visit www.naturalgrocers.com/our-careers.