Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 20, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why UFA Co-operative Limited was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
- UFA Co-operative supported more than 330 Alberta-based grassroots and provincial not-for-profit organizations in the past year, an investment of just over $800,000 -- employees participated in the selection of organizations to receive the co-operative's support and also donated over 2,200 volunteer hours to local initiatives
- Along with helping employees save for the future, UFA Co-operative offers year-end bonuses for all employees and referral bonuses for those who recruit candidates from their personal networks (up to $1,000 per successful hire)
- Employees working at UFA Co-operative's head office have free access to an onsite fitness facility which features a variety of exercise equipment, lockers, television and shower facilities -- family members are also invited to take advantage of the facility
Opportunities to advance can start early at UFA
Calder Dittmer began his career with the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) by working after school and Saturdays at the co-operative's Spruce Grove farm and ranch store. He dealt with customers purchasing everything from feed grains to fence posts and some days his job involved "grabbing a broom and sweeping out the feed shed."
Dittmer, who grew up on the family dairy farm, joined UFA full-time after completing high school. Now, at age 23, he is stepping up for an interim assignment as store manager at the Leduc location -- a job that involves scheduling, approving the payroll, chairing morning staff meetings and managing the yard.
"I didn't think at my age I'd be an interim store manager," says Dittmer, "but UFA definitely provides career options and pathways to progress as employees."
The Calgary-based UFA serves its 110,000 active members through a network of 35 farm and ranch supply stores as well as 111 fuel cardlock sites across the province. President and Chief Executive Officer Carol Kitchen says the organization hires qualified individuals to work in customer service roles in the stores, but also recruits at universities and colleges to fill positions across its network and at its head office in finance,
IT and supply chain management, as well as other areas of the business.
But regardless of where a person starts, there are opportunities to advance and programs to help employees achieve their career goals. Kitchen says UFA offers a leadership program to groom employees for management positions and a development program for others across the organization in customer service, sales or analyst roles.
"We have opportunities at many levels," says Kitchen, "and we want employees to see that there are career paths they can follow."
For his part, Dittmer has completed a number of online offerings, including tutorials on payroll management and improving customer service skills. He is taking the development program, which is spread over a six-month period and involves online training, group assignments and head office instruction on things such as conflict management and change in the workplace.
UFA is also deeply committed to community involvement and commits $1 million annually, says Kitchen. Last year the co-operative supported 338 charities or non-profit organizations, including 4-H clubs across the province and Ag for Life, a program that promotes farm safety. "Our employees go out with Ag for Life and do active training in tractor safety, working around equipment and handling grain," says Kitchen. "It's all about raising awareness of day-to-day safety hazards on the farm."