It is often said that not enough young people stay in their home communities throughout rural Alberta to work and raise their families. While it is true that some young people move away to seek their fortune each year, a few businesses are doing their part to ensure local youth find a positive workplace experience, learning opportunities and a chance for career growth right here at home. In Lac La Biche, Britton’s Your Independent Grocer is an outstanding example of this type of company.
It may surprise you to know that Britton’s employs a staff of up to 130 people, with over 60% of them considered youth – many of high school age. While many businesses lament that it is difficult to recruit young people to either full-time or part-time vacancies, Bill Britton, store owner, uses one of the oldest recruitment tricks in the books –word of mouth. “Youth are not as scared to try a new job if they can talk to their friends to find out what a typical day might look like,” says Britton. “Many young employees tell their friends about their job and that it’s a great place to work. In most cases, store positions are filled by walk-in applications without any formal advertising.”
CELEBRATING GOOD WORK
Building a culture where young people are happy to come to work through flexibility, regular employee recognition, and social events is critical to Independent’s success. “Because employees in the retail sector have, at times, felt the frustration of customers, especially during the pandemic months, it is important to celebrate good work,” says Britton. He says that while workers appreciate the employee-of-the-month program and the special parking and lunches that go along with it, he knows what these young people mean to his business and the community. “When I get a message from an employee thanking me for helping them buy their first car, it’s an incredible feeling of success.”
BUILDING SKILLS FOR CAREERS
While most of Independent’s young employees will eventually go on to build their careers elsewhere, a few have chosen management training and to make a career in the retail sector, whether it be with Britton’s Your Independent Grocer or with another employer. The Loblaw Academy provides support for growth in the organization through e-learning resources. Courses ranging from management and customer service to personal development can be viewed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone and help build confidence and skillsets for any future employment.
KEEPING DOLLARS AT HOME
It goes without saying that empowering youth through work experience is of value to the community. Britton points out that his young employees gain confidence, overcome the anxiety of new challenges, and ultimately help to build a pool of experienced workers in the Lac La Biche region. Britton says, “jobs at Independent provide youth with customer service training and other skills that are essential for any job they might have in the future. Employing youth helps to sustain our economy by keeping spending and young people at home and dollars in our community.”
DO YOU KNOW A DEDICATED YOUNG EMPLOYEE?
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Watch for updates about Britton’s employee-of-the-month program in future articles.