Being Better Together

We believe our clearly defined mission and values serve as a compass for the relationships we build

Believe in Being Better

Our work environment, like our business model, is built on a foundation of collaboration.

Our workforce strategy is team-oriented and highly interdependent, and our company’s mission and long-term vision drive our decisions, policies and day-to-day work. We know that regular constructive feedback, informal and formal coaching, training and education are essential for everyone’s development and growth. That’s why we devote personal and company resources toward new learning opportunities, and why we discuss company plans and challenges—and recognize team members for their contributions—at our quarterly staff meetings.

Sustainable Employment

We understand that a fair wage takes care of our employees’ basic needs and provides the discretionary income required for a decent quality of life. We also recognize that excessive work is detrimental. To support the health needs of team members, we limit overtime and provide a Wellness Benefit that can be used for things like a gym membership, yoga lessons or a bike. We know that an authentic connection with the communities where we live and work supports wellness. As of 2015, employees can take advantage of up to 24 hours of paid time each year to volunteer with any of our 1% for the Planet partners.

Employee Engagement

We believe an engaged workforce is healthier, happier and better able to support the mission, vision and values of Salt Spring Coffee. In 2013, we began conducting an annual employee engagement survey based on a series of questions developed by Gallup, which are designed to measure core elements that are vital to a successful workplace. This survey helps us understand what it’s like to work at Salt Spring Coffee and identify areas of strength and improvement. Participants are asked to rate how strongly they agree with each statement on a six-point scale: 6 if they strongly agree, 5 if they agree, 4 if they slightly agree, 3 if they slightly disagree, 2 if they disagree and 1 if they strongly disagree. For ease of understanding, we’ve converted those ratings to percentages in the table you see here (e.g., a rating of 5/6 is equivalent to 83 percent). Our overall average score was 77.6 percent in 2013, rose to 83.0 percent in 2014 and dipped slightly to 82.9 percent in 2015.
1. I know what is expected of me at work.84.0%87.2%91.7%+7.7
2. I have the equipment and materials I need to do my job right.82.7%81.2%79.3%-3.4
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.76.3%84.2%83.8%-7.5
4. In the last seven days I have received praise for doing good work.77.8%75.5%80.3%+2.5
5. My supervisor or someone else at work seems to care about me as a person.86.8%90.7%93.2%+6.4
6. I am encouraged to update and/or further develop my skills.77.8%79.0%81.8%+4.0
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.73.2%80.3%78.5%+5.3
8. The mission/purpose of SSC makes me feel my job is important.78.5%82.0%77.0%-1.5
9. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work.77.8%84.7%84.3%+6.5
10. I receive regular performance feedback.62.5%75.5%79.3%+16.8
11. I am able to balance my work and personal life.69.5%79.5%79.3%+9.8
12. I am clear about SSC's objectives, my department's objectives and my own objectives.73.7%83.3%77.0%+3.3
13. I have a good friend at work.81.3%89.3%88.7%+7.4
14. I am clear about how my job performance will be evaluated.70.2%82.5%82.3%+12.1
15. In the past year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow/develop my skills.85.5%84.7%82.3%-3.2
16. We operate in line with our values.77.8%82.8%84.3%+6.5
17. Employees are trusted and empowered.77.5%82.5%81.8%+4.3
18. My current manager recognizes and appreciates me.85.7%87.3%88.7%+3.0
19. My current manager ensures I am well informed.78.8%85.0%86.8%+8.0
20. Senior leadership is appropriately available to employees.75.3%82.5%81.8%+6.5
21. Overall, I look forward to coming to work each day.77.2%83.3%78.5%+1.3
Average score77.6%83.0%82.9%+5.3
Fair to Farmer

Chipping in for farmers

Throughout the lifespan of this company, being fair to farmers has been the centrepiece of everything we do. Now we have an umbrella Fair to Farmer program that combines our social initiatives and direct partnerships with the coffee producers who supply our beans. A good example of the type of long-term investment we make starts with one of the mainstays of farming: the soil. We spent three years working with two farming co-ops in Nicaragua—Zacarias Padilla and José Alfredo Zeledón—to fund and deliver chippers that will create organic compost from readily available farming waste.

A store of hope

It’s not only about fields and coffee farms: we need to look at entire communities. Take, for example, the women of the Soppexcca co-operative in Nicaragua, who work long hours sorting coffee beans at the mill. Many of them walk to work, leaving few hours in the day to shop for family necessities. As a result, the women were routinely buying food and goods from roadside vendors in small quantities and at high prices. In 2010, with funds from our Fair to Farmer program, the women opened a mercado, or store, steps away from the sorting mill, creating a safe environment where they can buy what they need at a manageable price.

Telling Byron’s story

After visiting coffee farms across Latin America, Africa and Indonesia, we know that every farmer has his or her own way of caring for soil. One of our partners, Byron Corrales of Jinotega, Nicaragua, is so deeply invested in the vitality of his soil that he actually grows nutrient-rich plants to feed his cattle, which in turn feed the coffee plants. His attention to detail and commitment to organic production is remarkable—and produces some of the best coffee in the world. We are proud to have been working with Byron since 2009 and often use his story to educate our consumers about what goes into the coffee they love.

Industrial sharing

We want to lead by example, to take what we have learned from our pioneering roots and inspire positive change. That’s why we take every opportunity to talk with our colleagues about our sustainable initiatives and support events like “Let’s Talk Coffee” in Colombia. Salt Spring Coffee has been a proud member of the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) since 1996. Our roasters are all active SCAA members and our Coffee Quality Manager, Stamatis Papadopoulos, is a certified Q Grader.

Coffee education

In support of our efforts to educate consumers about where their coffee comes from and how they can drink it sustainably, we built an Education Centre at our Richmond roasting facility. Our employees are actively encouraged to learn by doing, to work closely with more experienced team members to broaden their skill sets and to evolve into new roles. Jessie Gullett is a perfect example. A stellar barista, Jessie was managing one of Salt Spring Coffee’s cafés when she began training beginner and intermediate baristas for all of our accounts. Today, she is our Production Roaster and Beverage Specialist.