Frontier's Sustainability Report employees


Our employee health and well-being objective is to provide a safe working environment, opportunities for growth and development, and a high rate of employee satisfaction.

We communicate frequently, honestly and openly with all of our stakeholders — including our employees — and respect and consider their needs in our decisions.


Our workforce demographics have been pretty stable for the last five years. The overall percentage of female employees decreased again to 67%, while the percent of women in management positions increased four points.

Employee Demographics 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Employees in Iowa 270 261 310 319 340 338
Employees Outside of Iowa 12 20 17 19 14 14
Average Age 39 42 41 42 43 42
% Women in Workforce 70 71 73 69 69 67
% Women in Management --- 38 34 36 36 40
% Minorities in Workforce --- 1 1 2 2 3

Employees outside of Iowa are those working in our Creative office in Boulder, Colorado, and our regionally based sales force. Temporary employees are not included in this table, but they numbered 14 at the end of the year, including summer jobs. The number fluctuates throughout the year, based on seasonal demand. Temporary employees come from an outside agency. As regular positions become available, these temporary employees are often recruited to fill them.


Turnover is one measure of how well we meet our employees' needs. We calculate our turnover by dividing the total number of separations in a 12-month period by the average number of employees for that time. Our turnover goal is a maximum of 17.5%, which we have achieved for four of the last five years.

Longevity 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
% Turnover 15.0 16.9 14.8 17.13 19.66 16.95
Average Years of Service 6.5 7.5 8.0 7.25 7.25 8.24

While a number of things affect turnover, it's highest among new employees, so we also consider average years of service – which increased to its highest level since we have been tracking it in 2013. To reduce new employee turnover, we’ve tried several approaches and achieved some success: orientation with the CEO within six months of hire; increasing pay for some positions; giving pay increases during the first year of service rather than just at the end of that period; and making vacation more quickly available by awarding it at the beginning of each fiscal year rather than throughout the year as it is earned.

Pay & Benefits

Our pay is structured to keep us competitive in our community and is reviewed regularly against published state and county data. While new workers are awarded pay raises on a training and proficiency plan, most pay raises are merit based. Employees are eligible for a bonus based on meeting specified company performance goals.

We offer a wide variety of benefits. (See a full list of the benefits we offer.) Full benefits are offered to all full-time employees – defined as employees regularly working at least 30 hours a week. Ninety-nine percent of employees qualify for benefits, which include health insurance and dental insurance; fully paid life, disability and vision insurance; a medical flexible spending plan; 401 (k) savings plan with 4% company match; and numerous other self-administered programs such as tuition reimbursement, interest-free computer-purchase loans, and adoption assistance. Last year a Health Savings Account option was added. Total health benefits costs covered by Frontier average 72%.

Organic Café

The mission of Frontier’s Co-op Café, located at our Norway headquarters, is to offer healthy, low-priced organic meals that appeal to as many employees as possible. The Café serves hot lunches made from fresh ingredients, tasty breakfast items, meat and vegetarian options, a salad bar and fresh-baked cookies and desserts. The Co-op Café is an employee benefit and is subsidized to keep prices affordable. (Entrees are $2.25 to $2.75.)


At our Norway facility, we operate a state-licensed childcare center that serves around 70 children. Frontier subsidizes about half the cost – employees pay $1.55 per hour for infants and $1.30 per hour for older children, with discounts for multiple siblings. Employees' children (up to age 12) can enjoy day camp fun during their summer break from school. Employees at other locations are provided a subsidy for licensed childcare for their children.

Product Purchases

A long-time benefit popular among employees is the ability to purchase all the products we sell at our cost. This provides an easy and cost-effective way for everyone to buy natural and organic products for use at home and to try products they might not normally purchase.


We define a high rate of employee satisfaction as achieving a score of 4.0 (on a scale of 1 to 5) or higher on our employee satisfaction survey. The survey, which can be completed anonymously online, is conducted twice a year. Everyone is encouraged to fill it out, and paid time is allotted for those who do. We average the scores from the two surveys to obtain our yearly score. Our scores have been steadily climbing over the last five years. In 2011 we achieved our goal of a satisfaction score of 4.0 for the first time.

  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Employee Satisfaction Scores 3.68 3.93 3.94 4.07 3.86 3.92

In addition to the numerical survey score, we encourage comments and feedback throughout the survey, and this information is the basis for addressing issues and making improvements in a variety of areas – from benefits and training to communication and supervisor performance.

Employee Communication

It is our belief that an engaged and communicative workforce is best for everyone. Managers at Frontier, including the CEO, have an open-door policy that invites employees to speak freely, ask questions, and offer ideas. Employees can also volunteer to work on company teams such as Safety, Wellness, and Social Giving.

Other avenues of communication include departmental and inter-departmental meetings; quarterly company-wide meetings; and a weekly newsletter covering company news, culture, current events, employee recognition, new employee profiles, and job openings. Financial results, information about key initiatives, new product launches, and company changes are shared with all employees in our quarterly meetings. Twice a month, CEO Tony Bedard holds a breakfast meeting with varying groups of employees to answer questions and discuss issues.

Training & Development

Opportunities for growth and development are key aspects of job satisfaction. We encourage employees to develop new skills and to continue their education – both for advancement at Frontier and for personal growth. We provide a yearly reimbursement, up to $5,250, for class tuition and book costs for employees engaged in higher learning. Employees with one year of service are eligible for this program.

Many employees interested in acquiring new skills or career advancement create yearly development plans with their supervisors. Actions that end up on development plans (besides classes and seminars) include mentoring and job shadowing, tours of other companies, books and other materials to read, involvement with various community or professional groups, and work on cross-functional team projects.

Training and Development 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
%  Promotions From Within 56 52 54 35 30 38

One way we measure our employee development success is through the number of promotions from within the company. Our goal is to fill at least 40% of our open positions with current employees. In response to our growth, we have created numerous new positions and several specialized vacancies during the last few years for which we had did not have trained employees. But we believe that our training and development program is sufficient to meet our goal in the future.

Health & Wellness

We all feel better, work better, and have more satisfying lives when we are healthy. We encourage healthy habits and workplace practices in a variety of ways.

Our volunteer employee Wellness Team sets up a variety of activities and educational opportunities throughout the year to promote and support healthy lifestyles for our employees and their families. And the company newsletter often contains information and how-to articles on making healthy choices.

Employees have free access to a gym and fitness area during the workweek and on weekends at our Norway facility. Various organized classes and activities take place in the gym throughout the year.

Our wellness program, launched in 2010, is aimed at supporting employees' healthy lifestyles. Our goal is to get 80% participation in the free health assessments offered to everyone. A variety of tools are available through our wellness partner on their website. There is also the opportunity to work with a professional to develop individual improvement plans. Reduced insurance premiums are a reward for those who meet health improvement goals. Initial participation in 2010 was 74%, but only 43% in 2011. Of those who did continue to participate, 49 improved their health scores enough to move into a reduced insurance premium bracket or a higher-level insurance discount level.

In 2013, Frontier increased the premium discount for wellness program participants and reduced the requirement to having those insured get a physical with a family physician. At least two partricipants discovered potentially life-saving information from their physicals, and several more caught manageable health issues than could have gotten worse without attention.

Because of our health and wellness efforts, we have received recognition from the American Heart Association as a Gold-level, Fit Friendly Company. The award recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees by creating physical activity opportunities in the workplace.


We have always taken workplace safety seriously and, as stated in our safety handbook, consider the safety of our workers as important as anything we do.

We have increased our safety initiatives over the past few years, such as hiring a full-time safety coordinator, increasing training hours, updating safety programs, enlisting external safety audits, posting key indicators and assembling robust employee safety committees.

We changed the structure of the employee safety team to create sub-teams for each facility and shift of line workers and their managers. Each sub-team’s responsibility is to identify and help remedy potential safety problems in their areas. The main team continues to meet monthly to identify potential safety hazards, review every reported safety incident, and develop improvement strategies.

To engage all employees, “observation cards” were implemented. Any employee can identify a potential safety problem on the card, along with his or her solution. A rewards program for the best cards is being implemented to encourage everyone to become involved.

We have also increased safety accountability and implemented consequences for repeated safety violations or unsafe behaviors.

Our safety record continues to challenge us to do even more and to engage our employees in our safety programs.

Injury Rates 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
OIR* 4.71 3.57 4.32 2.99 4.89 6.07
Recordable Incidents 10 8 12 9 14 17

* OIR = number of injuries x 20,000÷ total hours worked

email us

We consider the safety of our workers as important as anything we do.