DES MOINES, Iowa — Kum & Go LC has expanded full-time status to nearly 2,000 more of its part-time workers, qualifying them for benefits that include health insurance and health savings accounts; paid time off; maternity, adoption and parental leave; and consistent scheduling with two consecutive days off each week.
The convenience-store retailer began a pilot program in December 2018 in a 200-associate district in Des Moines, Iowa, Kum & Go Division Vice President Marty Roush told CSP Daily News. The company accelerated the initiative the summer of 2019. About half of the company has completed the rollout as of the second week of July. The rollout to the entire company will be complete prior to Thanksgiving, he said.
Kum & Go has about 5,000 employees chainwide in its stores and headquarters. The Des Moines-based chain has about 400 c-stores in 11 states: Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. It is No. 18 in CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
Other benefits that the company is extending to more employees include tuition reimbursement, Christmas Club savings account, company-paid life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment coverage, voluntary life and dependent life and flexible spending accounts. A newly created assistant manager position has all of these benefits plus additional paid time off. The existing food manager position also picked up additional paid time off, and food managers were added to prepared food stores that didn’t have one, said Roush.
“Kum & Go offers competitive wages that are connected to the prevailing rate in the specific [metropolitan statistical areas] in which we operate,” he said. “The full-time assistant manager and food manager wages are typically the highest followed by full-time store associates, part-time store associates and flex pool associates. Newly hired hourly associates receive a merit increase at six months and again at 12 months and every 12 months after that.”
The strategy behind the initiative involves improving the lives of employees, but it also is intended to strengthen the bond between employees and customers.
“Two years ago, Kum & Go defined its purpose to make days better by connecting with people,” Tanner Krause, president of Kum & Go, told CSP Daily News. “We looked at how we designed our store teams as a way to really deliver on that purpose. By providing best practices in scheduling and full-time benefits, we’ve made a lot of days better. By designing consistent shift patterns, we allow our associates to better connect with both their teammates and their customers.”
He said the goal “is to do right by our people. We know that our full-time associates are more likely to be happier at work and see a future for themselves with Kum & Go. Knowing you get the same paycheck 52 weeks a year, we can remove major stress from our associates’ lives. We have seen some incredible stories where our people are able to think longer term and bigger picture in their personal lives—associates getting apartments and cars for the first time because they have a reliable paycheck. It has really inspired our entire organization. Our front-line associate and I have the exact same medical plan, 401(k) plan, paternity leave and more.”
The changes also affect customer service and community, said Krause. “It is hard to build a connection with a Kum & Go associate if you struggle to see the same person consistently working for us,” he said. “By setting the same shift patterns for our associates, and by improving our turnover, we are creating a system that fosters better relationships between our customers and our associates.”
They also benefit the c-store industry. “We looked at best practices both internally and externally and sought to create a system that would do great things for our people,” Krause said. “We believe we are raising the bar in associate benefits for retail. Health insurance, paid family leave, paid time off and financial wellness programs are now available to 75% of our workforce. Hopefully this inspires other retailers to offer similar benefits.”