HR Council provides valuable resources and networking opportunities

Annual HR Council meeting offers new tools for retail-owners

Human Resources Council Painting

In 2009, the Human Resource (HR) Council was formed to provide retail-owners with current insights, tools, programs and best practices to strengthen their performance and further their company’s success. Now in its ninth year, the council has grown from 10 members to 80 members, and represents retailers ranging in size from 100 to 800 employees.

Kim Burnes, Director of Land O’Lakes Strategic Talent Resource Group (STRG), is the lead HR Council consultant and facilitator. She’s responsible for designing and facilitating the annual meeting.

“The HR Council creates connection on two levels,” she says.

First, it connects Land O’Lakes and our retail-owners who have talented human resources staff. Second, it fosters relationships between HR Council members who all work in the same industry and within the same co-op business model.

“They speak the same language and always enjoy their networking,” Burnes adds.

The theme for this year’s annual meeting in June was the “Future of Work.” Its purpose was to highlight how the nature of work itself is changing, and how employees engage with that change.

Topics covered under this theme included succession planning and the importance of in-house leadership development, recruiting trends and the need for effective onboarding. New this year, the HR Council added webinars as an extra resource for members. At the three-day event alone, the HR Council added four new members.

“It’s good to see that retailers are getting the message about the need for HR expertise,” she adds.

HR can often be a lonely place in the co-op model so it’s important to bridge those gaps. Sarah Ranschau, HR Director at Cooperative Farmers Elevator in Rock Valley, Iowa, has been an HR Council member since 2013 and can testify to this.

Reflecting on the past five years, Ranschau emphasizes how welcoming and inviting everyone has been.

“It gives me a broad idea of what everyone else is doing and reminds me that we’re all in the same boat,” Ranschau says. “After the event, I am able to take knowledge and resources back to our cooperative and introduce them into our culture.”

Ranschau and the fellow HR professionals she’s met stay in touch throughout the year.

“We like to meet every couple of months and catch up over lunch,” she says. “It’s nice to hear that they face the same things I do every day.”

This relationship is the exact type of connection the HR Council hopes to provide for its members.

“We like to think of ourselves as the ‘mother ship’ for our HR Council members,” Burnes says. “They can contact us to get advice on what Land O’Lakes is doing as a company, but also have a network of peers a phone call away.”

Looking ahead to the future, Burnes plans to add more resources for HR Council members to utilize.

“We received great feedback on what we’ve added, and additional events are already in the planning stages,” she says.

In addition to attending HR Council’s annual event, members gain access to Land O’Lakes HR SharePoint site. Here, members can see materials and presentations used in the HR Council sessions, access the webinars and connect with other members. For more information on annual fees and offerings, contact 651-375-1336 or email