As a cooperative, employment decisions are very important, because becoming a worker at Loomio puts you on a pathway to potential co-ownership as a member. Additionally, our team composition is critical to our collaborative culture and how we work. In short, our people are the most important thing to us as a company, so we really try to get this right.
There are two kinds of employment with Loomio:
Long-term employment that potentially puts the person on the membership pathway. People in these roles participate in the sprint process and have a steward. This category includes all current members and newer staff who may become members in the future. Long-term workers may engage as employees or contractors, depending on their situation.
Short term, with limited and specific scope. The person is not on the membership pathway and doesn't necessarily join the sprint process (although they will be invited if appropriate). Reports to the coordinators and do not have a steward. People in project-based roles are employed as contractors.
Putting someone on the pathway to membership is a consequential thing for a co-op, and it's worth taking a little more time and getting diverse views on the decision. While the actual membership decision is made by all members on the other end of this pathway, the moment of employment is the beginning of that process.
We try to strike a balance between no member engagement and involving everyone by convening employment panels. An employment panel consists of at least one coordinator, plus 3-4 other members with relevant expertise or views. Employment panel decisions have impacts on not only current team makeup, but future eligibility for membership.
Employment panels should:
consist of at least one coordinator, plus a selection of other members
be driven by the co-op's strategic priorities and core values
build a thriving team with continuity & consistency
run a clear & transparent process
make decisions within an agreed timeframe
be informed by budget (agreed by membership, approved by the board)
consider long-term membership potential (beyond an immediately required skill, look to broader skills, values alignment, self-management capacity)
look at the skills composition required to achieve our strategy, and identify great people to fill gaps
Coordinators have the mandate to make short-term project-based hiring decisions without a full employment panel, within the budget agreed by members and approved by the board.
If someone is not going onto the membership pathway because their role is limited, it makes more sense to let the coordinators move quickly and have flexibility to adapt the team composition to emergent needs. Coordinators have their heads around the budget and skill mix of the team, and are best placed to make decisions about contractors for specific projects.
It's important that the coordinators are very clear on when someone is transitioning from a short term role into an ongoing one. If that occurs, an employment panel needs to be convened. The guideline is 3 months - if someone is working with us longer than that, we expect the coordinators to review their status and proceed accordingly.
The coordinators may convene a panel for hiring short-term roles if they feel they want more people involved in the decision. Coordinators will work closely with the people involved in a potential contractor's work to make hiring decisions.