Recognized as one of Manitoba's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 20, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Red River Co-op was selected as one of Manitoba's Top Employers (2023):
- Red River Co-op supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position
- Red River Co-op encourages employees to recruit their friends with generous new employee referral bonuses, from $250 to $1,000 depending on the position
- Red River Co-op helps employees plan for life after work with contributions to to a defined contribution pension plan
Red River Co-op builds careers from within
Mankaran Singh moved to Canada from India four years ago to pursue a bachelor of business administration degree at the University of Winnipeg. To help support himself, he took on a part-time job as a gas attendant with Red River Co-op.
“It was my first job in Canada,” says Singh. “It also gave me my start in building a whole new career.”
After one year of minding the pumps, Singh’s location manager saw he was ready for new responsibilities. He gave Singh the chance to work inside as a cashier and, later, to manage the gas bar on weekends – opportunities Singh eagerly welcomed.
Shortly after completing his degree, Singh was promoted to his current position as an accounting clerk, again with the support of his former manager.
“There are good growth opportunities here,” says Singh. “You just have to make sure your manager knows your ambitions and they will help you get where you want to be.”
Singh was following in a long tradition of promoting from within at Winnipeg-based Red River Co-op, which operates 61 retail outlets for petroleum, pharmacy services and groceries.
For example, CEO Doug Wiebe started his co-op career more than 40 years ago working in one of the company’s food stores. More recently, Cindy Waytiuk went from being assistant store manager to store manager to project manager to her current position as director of development, all within an eight-year period.
Building on this tradition, Red River Co-op launched a new management training program, called Elevate, in 2021. The program encourages employees who have management ambitions to identify themselves for potential enrolment in a six-month training cycle that encompasses 22 different subject areas, including employee engagement, financial literacy, stress management and coaching and business management.
To date, some 40 employees have participated in the program. In many cases, a management opportunity is available for a trainee even before they complete the program, or else very shortly after.
Promoting from within is a “win-win” proposition for the employer and employees alike, says Murray Dehn, vice-president of human resources.
“The best part is they know our culture from the ground up. They really get what it means to serve our members.”
The organization’s tight-knit culture is very much defined by its co-operative model, adds Dehn.
“We are 100 per cent locally owned by our 320,000 members who live right in our trading area,” he says. “Likely 99 per cent of our employees are members as well, which means they own a share in the place they work. Our profits are all returned to our members or reinvested in growing our business. We don’t have rich shareholders in faraway places; we are, by definition, a more down-to-earth company.”
Another way Red River Co-op looks out for its employees is through an annual employee purchase rebate of five per cent for goods purchased through the company. Recognizing the current inflationary environment, the company recently increased the maximum individual rebate payout per year from $275 to $1,125.
Community investment is another key focus, with Red River Co-op winning the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Corporation award last year for its contributions to charitable organizations.
Just one example: Red River Co-op recently released a holiday recipe book in support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, with all recipes submitted by the families of children who belong to the company’s ‘Kids Club’ as well as the hospital’s ‘Champion kids.’
“Giving back,” says Dehn, “is just part of who we are.”