The Hy-Vee Story

Innovative Hiring Practices: The Hy-Vee Example


Neighborhood Resident Charly Jordan working the register.

 When Hy-Vee decided to open an additional store on the Westside of Madison the employment service groups in the area knew it would constitute a number of new opportunities for neighborhood residents.

Hy-Vee began their hiring process as they normally do, using advertisements in the local paper, radio stations, direct mail pieces, etc. After that process was complete, the company was still over 150 applicants short of their goal. This prompted Hy-Vee to take an innovative look at how they could work with community partners to generate additional applications, and help those who needed a job find one that fit their skill set.

A new store like this requires over 500 positions be filled by full and part-time employees.  Working with partners like the City of Madison, the City of Fitchburg, the Dane County Job Center, the Urban League, the Goodwill Career Center, Joining Forces for Families, Common Wealth Development, Orchard Ridge UCC, various neighborhood associations and others, they were able to create opportunities for individuals to access employment information, applications and interview locations.

"Creating these partnerships with local organizations allowed Hy-Vee to discover a large pool of qualified applicants that we would not have otherwise had access to," said Kate Nowicki, now Human Resources Manager at the Fitchburg Hy-Vee.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was happy with the partnerships Hy-Vee created to hire local residents. "The Hy-Vee hiring program was a significant success.  Our private and public partners need to replicate this process city-wide. Hy-Vee benefits with great employees, residents get jobs, and the city grows a more stable neighborhood."

The value of these partnerships extended beyond just help in the application process. Often the community employment groups provided applicants with access to computers and the Internet in order to submit their application. Other times organizations allowed use of their facilities in order for Hy-Vee to hold interviews in a convenient location for applicants.

Mike Bruce, a Community Social Worker with Joining Forces for Families, worked with a number of neighborhood residents who applied with Hy-Vee. Seeing one of the people he worked with on a regular basis find full-time work was very rewarding, "I'll never forget her smile behind that bakery counter.  That alone made all of the work put into this worth it."

 "We were thrilled by the response from the applicants after we began exploring these partnerships," said Joanna Dunton, Human Resources supervisor for Hy-Vee. "Without the help from the organizations with which we partnered, as well as from the City of Madison, we would still be looking to fill important positions long after opening our stores."

"Hy-Vee was willing to think outside the box by collaborating with neighborhood groups that were working on employment and economic development issues" explained Alderperson Matthew Phair, "As a result, when I shop at Hy-Vee I see familiar faces working behind the counters and stocking shelves; some of these neighborhood residents with jobs for the first time in a long while."

If you are a company looking for innovative ways to work with the community to expand your workforce, please contact Ruth Rohlich, Business Development Specialist, City of Madison,




Last Updated: 04/18/2014