December 11th, 2018 16:43

Employment in Co-ops

Norman Public Seen by 187

One of the strategic functions we need to build into our movement is an HR function. I would like to link up with people interested in setting up a co-op LinkedIn and/or a co-op recruitment and employment agency.

Leo Sammallahti

Leo Sammallahti December 11th, 2018 17:38

Recommend you contacting this fellow who had the same idea while ago in Social Coop.

Corrected the link because a direct link to social coop didn't work as it had @ in it.


Graham December 11th, 2018 18:11

A recruitment agency and an HR function aren't the same things in my head. What's the problem that you are seeking to solve Norman?


Norman December 11th, 2018 19:54

Sorry I was speaking systemically. Some sort of cross between LinkedIn and a jobs website is what I had in mind. Where co-operatives seeking new employees/members and co-operators seeking employment in co-ops could be matched. Keep up the questions: you are clarifying my thinking...


Graham December 12th, 2018 10:50

This could be done on a basic level pretty simply. However, if we are assuming that we're not really talking about the majority of jobs in the majority of consumer co-ops, which are poorly paid and bear little resemblance to what most of us in this space would think of in terms of working in a co-op (correct me if I'm wrong), then the numbers are going to be small. I'm struggling to see a sustainable business model. CoTech sort of offers a bit of this on its chat site at https://community.coops.tech, although it's vague and clearly tech-centric. It's potentially the sort of service that Platform 6 could offer aspart of a broader package of services to coops and cooperators, but again I'm not clear how it would be paid for, unless of course you are offering to fund the set-up costs?

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) December 14th, 2018 12:12

We have an opportunity for co-ops seeking new members and co-operators seeking new jobs availabe for members of worker coop solidarity fund already. As an idea, I worry that if your co-op only seeks to recruit existing co-operators this may reveal problems a) a lack of attention to principle 5 or confidence in your business if you don't think "ordinary people" can work in your co-op (AKA lazy) b) the co-op movement shrinks rather than grows, not bringing in new blood, c) the movement becomes insular in focus with a lack of pluralism - the metaphorical equivalent a limited gene pool and the concentration of problems/defects/groupthink that you would expect (see also The Borg)

bob cannell

bob cannell December 14th, 2018 15:28

Back in the day (mid80s) when HR was one of those horror words like 'management' in worker coops and new members 'got in' to your coop in mysterious ways, prior coop experience was prized as a sign of a 'good un'. Didnt take long to realise why many such people had exited their former coops.
Suma resolved this recruitment problem in the mid90s and many other worker coops have copied the Suma processes and got an acceptable selection performance. It has to be done on cooperative ability not technical ability.
Nice to hear from you Norman. Would you like to be in our (not very active yet) cooperative HR network? give me your email.

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC)

@nathanbrown i don't think it's a problem. a) i doubt coops are only advertising to existing cooperators, but you'd be crazy not to advertise to cooperators, b) there are any number of wannabe cooperators who are looking for sites like this.

It's a good way to find cooperator applicants - how coops then deal with their various applicants who've arrived at the job app through various routes is a different bit of the puzzle.

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) December 16th, 2018 14:07

Not a problem now but could become one if co-ops deafult to only using that route. Path of least resistance and all that. Not suggesting you don't advertise to co-operators but one of the causes of the lack of diversity in co-op sector may be lack of promotion outside of the existing contacts and networks


Norman December 27th, 2018 18:05

Bob, my business email is co-operation.works@phonecoop.coop. I'd love to be involved.


Norman December 27th, 2018 18:09

Cath, I recently went for a job interview with a major Irish Co-operative organisation. I didn't get shortlisted after a preliminary interview and when I asked why my co-operative experience wasn't considered I was told "the client didn't specify co-operative experience..."


Norman December 27th, 2018 18:16

There are still some people who think a co-op is a disorganised mob awaiting the advent of the "Great Leader." On the flip side I'd be inclined to take someone with a good record at Suma as worth working with. I used to tell members at Dublin Food Co-op that I saw them as 1700 potential founders of new co-ops. What was therefore important was to increase their knowledge and involvement.


Norman December 27th, 2018 19:03

" It has to be done on cooperative ability not technical ability." Quite. That is precisely my point. Now what achievements, behaviours, training etc do we need as evidence?


Norman December 27th, 2018 19:48

I never said "existing" you added this in to suit your argument.
If you bother to think about it you will see that Principle 5 underpins the whole concept.
Where did I say that I don't think "ordinary people" can work in a co-op, where did I say that "ordinary people" were lazy? Where did I say that there would be no "new blood or suggest shrinking the movement? "
I think that the movement at present is in silos, with very little people interchange between types of co-operative, which doesn't facilitate Principle 6. If we can develop something which promotes co-operative learning and knowledge sharing and uses that as the basis for identifying and recruiting people who are a good fit for successful co-operatives; If we can develop something which retains people within the movement by signposting new opportunities in co-operatives; if we can develop something which permits young people interested in the co-operative idea to actually join a potential co-operative then that would be a useful addition to the movement.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 28th, 2018 16:00

HI @normanrides do you know about the Barefoot Co-op Development plan that I've been working on with @nathanbrown ? I agree that we should look on the members of existing co-ops as potential founders of new ones, but we also think that they can be the co-operative development advisors of the future too - barefoot developers.

We're working on a training programme with @johnatherton

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) January 10th, 2019 10:45

For clarification, I perhaps should have said "one" rather than "you". Apologies. I wasn't intending to perjorative. Messaging board semantics and my lack of time didn't provide the clarity required for this nuance. My "lazy" comment was referring to a co-op which doesn't want to train members but get them pre-formed ( a lack of attention to principle 5, which i think is lazy on the part of that co-op). I have seen co-ops use this approach in recruitment in the past. I will not name them, but suffice to say the assumptions that their previous co-op experience would stand them in good stead was erroneous.


Graham January 10th, 2019 11:45

"if your co-op only seeks to recruit existing co-operators" - surely no cooperative could be so blinkered?

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) January 10th, 2019 12:21

I've seen it