Getting food safely from farm to table, and ensuring the well-being of the essential workers who make it happen, has been at the top of many people’s minds during the pandemic. And nowhere more so than at Organic Valley.
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers. The organisation represents more than 1,800 farmers in 34 U.S. states, and in regions in Canada, Australia and the UK. They produce and distribute a wide range of organic food products including dairy, eggs, and meat.
Organic Valley has been operating as an essential service since the pandemic began. This means that just over half of its 950-person workforce – the individuals who work in manufacturing and distribution – are all still out in the world making sure food is getting to store shelves. The company has put strict new health protocols in place to ensure its workforce and products are safe, and that it is able to continue to meet demand.
Having Dayforce as a technology platform for managing its people and operational complexities has been key to helping the company successfully navigate through this challenging time.
When the pandemic hit, Organic Valley leapt into action to ensure the safety of its employees and its products. The company put in place a six-foot physical distancing requirement at its manufacturing facilities, updated its sanitation protocols, and mandated that employees wear masks in addition to providing training on their proper use.
To show its appreciation for their dedication and hard work during these challenging times, Organic Valley implemented a $2 hourly pay increase – hero pay – for front-line employees. In addition, the company is offering 80 hours of paid time off available to any employee who isn’t able to work due to a pre-existing health condition, or because they are symptomatic.
“We need to stay in business and be able to operate. We’ve had to do a lot of workforce planning,” says Katie Thompson, Payroll Supervisor and Data Analyst at Organic Valley. “We have people in essential roles who are keeping the food supply chain running and making sure that other people aren't panicking about their food stability. Making sure that these employees are taken care of at this time is very important.”
Dayforce has made it easy for Thompson and her team to track and implement those changes in all areas of payroll, including overtime pay. “We were able to set up the $2 hourly shift premium for the employees within the pay policies using the pay policy rules. We already do a shift premium, so it was relatively easy to set that up,” says Thompson. “It’s great that Dayforce gives us the ability to apply it by job and by department. That gives us the flexibility to target who we need to target. We didn't have to use support for any of the setup for paying people. We were able to do that on our own and monitor it through reporting.”
As the crisis evolved, Thompson wanted to reassure employees that they wouldn’t experience interruptions in pay – something that is top of mind for many employers during this time.
Quick communication from Ceridian helped her understand the options for maintaining continuity in employee pay, including having employees sign up for direct deposit, or having checks mailed directly to employee’s homes as an alternative to picking them up from the office. Thompson was able to work with employees on which payment option best suited their needs and put their minds at ease.
“The communication from Ceridian has been great. I haven't had to worry about anything as it relates to Dayforce during this time. That's huge when there are so many other things that we have to worry about,” says Thompson.
Organic Valley’s HR and management teams now meet weekly to discuss all COVID-related issues. Together, they’ve been working to answer questions such as whether they need to start paying an internet allowance to people who are working from home, and how to deal with accumulated vacation time. Weekly communications from the company to employees ensure everyone is up-to-date on any new health and HR developments and decisions – like what to do if they feel sick, or how to submit a leave of absence request – and that staff are able to provide feedback on changing policies where required.
“We’ve been trying to do a really good job of staying in communication with people and making sure they're aware of what's going on, and what decisions we’re making,” says Thompson.
Keeping on top of these changes has kept Thompson very busy, leaving her less time to track new best practices as they emerge. She says that Ceridian’s resources and webinars have helped her get the information she needs when she needs it.
“A lot of times things are changing so fast that you're just spinning, and it's hard to sit down and think through what exactly you need to do or what the possibilities are,” says Thompson “The COVID-19 toolkit that Ceridian has created has a lot of different resources, and they put it together really quickly, which was awesome.”
These resources have helped Thompson put recommendations forward to Organic Valley’s leadership team on ways they can continue to improve their health and safety protocols, including changing time and attendance tracking methods to touchless clocks to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“Ceridian has been such a good partner through all of this and anticipated the different needs that companies could have this time,” she says.
Organic Valley’s solid systems and supportive culture has allowed it to continue to operate and serve the thousands of customers who rely on it for sustenance. And while the pandemic has caused many challenges, it has also created some new opportunities.
Organic Valley has built in strategic redundancies (excess capacity or back-up options to maintain regular functions in the event of disruptions) within its supply chain and works with more than 90 co-processors to make sure it’s able to minimise interruptions and keep delivering food to its customers. This foresight recently paid off when a large retailer in Northern California couldn’t get the milk it needed from its normal supplier. Organic Valley was able to step in and fill the order.
“It's really all hands on deck,” says Thompson. “It’s been amazing to see the willingness of people to jump in and help each other. There are individuals working long hours and a lot of overtime to make sure that we can hit this increase in demand. Their resilience and dedication throughout all of this has been amazing. It’s a scary time, and people have a lot of other things going on in their personal lives. But it doesn't even seem like we've missed a beat, which has been pretty incredible.”