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Leaders share how they’re attracting and retaining talent amid a labour crunch

Executives from Walmart, Bimbo, Lactalis and more share their strategies
grocery executives
Left to right: Italian Centre Shop's Teresa Spinelli, Walmart Canada's AnnMarie Mercer, Bimbo Canada's Leslee Wills, Joe D’Addario of Nature’s Emporium and Lactalis Canada's Katelin Mailer

As the industry contends with labour shortages, how are leaders attracting and retaining talent? That’s the question Canadian Grocer asked retail and CPG executives for its February 2023 issue.

Read on to learn more about how just a few businesses in the industry are finding and keeping skilled staff, from company culture to benefits to diversity and more. 

Teresa Spinelli, president, Italian Centre Shop: “We are blessed to have an amazing culture, which keeps our team engaged. Every decision at Italian Centre is made with the consideration of people first. We make sure our teams know they are valuable and that they make a difference – we ask for their input on many occasions. Some of the best suggestions have come from our team, and we have implemented them all.”

AnnMarie Mercer, chief people officer, Walmart Canada: “Our more than 100,000 associates are the heartbeat of our business. We want them to feel supported, valued and developed so they can live better every day. We’ve enhanced our total rewards and benefits offerings (i.e. fertility treatment, gender affirmation, mental health, 24/7 virtual care and associate assistance), leveraging associate feedback to inform decisions. And we’re doubling down on career growth within Walmart. Along with launching our first internal talent marketplace this year – connecting associates with company-wide opportunities – we’re offering thousands of part-time associates full-time positions that provide more stability, hours and benefits.”

Leslee Wills, vice-president, people and corporate affairs, Bimbo Canada: “This is not a ‘one solution fits all’ labour environment. We are listening to what our associates have to say and we value their recommendations for improvements at our bakeries and DCs. Ensuring the safety and well-being of associates comes first. We are investing heavily in people, and we are launching initiatives focused on providing associates with a superior quality of life. Our commitment to diversity, equity, belonging and sustainability is helping engage associates in meaningful work, while driving social impact in our communities. Bottom line, we are focused on fostering a people-first culture that makes Bimbo Canada stronger for whatever comes next.”

Joe D’Addario, CEO, Nature’s Emporium: “Shared purpose and shared vision have helped us navigate the toughest of times and have played a pivotal role in our 30-year history. We empower our team members to help educate the communities we serve about the benefits of eating well. People feel good going to work when they understand how their contributions can make an impact. Everything we do – from onboarding to ongoing development – is centred on our desire to have a positive impact on the communities we serve. Nature’s Emporium is growing, and one of the ways we retain talent is by creating opportunities for growth within the company. As we grow, we want our team members to grow alongside us.” 

Katelin Mailer, vice-president, human resources, Lactalis Canada: “Our 4000-plus team is our strongest asset. Above and beyond competitive compensation and benefits, we place great importance and investment on health and well-being programs and initiatives to meet the diverse needs of our people. We also invest in quality training and development programs to foster a learning culture, which leads to skills development and enhancement as well as internal career growth. As part of a global company, our employees in Canada are also able to build networks and gain access to international expertise, as well as unique opportunities for international career development.”

This article was first featured in Canadian Grocer’s February 2023 issue.

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