Putting the Right People in Place
May 12, 2017
Written By Ralph Schallert
Employees are the heart and soul of a business. They are the most valuable assets any company possesses. That’s why the success of a company is often defined by its ability to put the right people in the right positions.
The MFA Oil Board of Directors recognizes the important role employees play in the cooperative and has made hiring and retaining excellent employees one of the company’s core principles.
“Our goal is to find the best employees and keep them on board for the long haul,” says Ralph Schallert, who farms in Purdy, Mo., and serves as vice-chairman of the board. “It is hard to run an effective cooperative if you do not have the right people in place to do the work.”
Recently, MFA Oil added two full-time recruiters to its human resources department to aid in filling openings with qualified job candidates throughout the company’s trade territory. The recruiters make the hiring process quicker and smoother. Attracting prospective new hires and retaining high-quality employees is also made easier by a competitive total compensation package with a strong benefits plan. MFA Oil is one of the few companies to still offer a company-paid pension plan.
“Not only do we try to reward our employees with appropriate compensation, we also want to make sure we are providing them with the training and development opportunities they need to grow professionally,” Schallert says.
The company introduced MFA Oil University, an online training program for its more than 1,750 employees, in 2016. The training website offers a wide variety of online courses to grow and enhance employees’ careers. Specific instruction is available for employees working in bulk fuel and propane, Break Time, Big O Tires, Jiffy Lube and many other areas.
The online learning opportunities combined with company-led leadership training and safety meetings are important to the cooperative’s efforts to maintain a strong, effective workforce. Many of the company’s training events are held at the new Business Support Campus which opened in Moberly, Mo., last year. Schallert says all of these initiatives were developed to ensure MFA Oil employees can reach their potential, and he is pleased with the progress he has seen.
“I’ve met with many of our employees, and I always walk away impressed with their professionalism,” Schallert says. “It doesn’t matter if you are talking about our fuel operations, retail staff or the people working in the home office, they are quality individuals who work hard and efficiently on our behalf.”
Another key to employee retention is to keep the lines of communication open between all parties for honest feedback. MFA Oil sends employee communications through a variety of channels to keep everyone up-to-speed on what is happening in the company. These efforts include a recently launched email newsletter and podcast, quarterly meetings that are recorded and made available to field and retail staff, and a printed newsletter mailed to employees’ homes.
“Just as our delegates communicate their concerns to the board, we encourage our employees to provide suggestions to the company’s management team to make sure we are addressing any issues that may arise,” Schallert says.
While there is always room for improvement, Schallert is encouraged by the “great strides” he has seen the company make since he joined the board in 2003.
“I’m proud of the team we have assembled and want our farmer-owners to know the cooperative is in good hands,” Schallert says.