Retailers Make Fortune’s Best to Work For Grade

Discussion
Apr 01, 2002
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In this dark time of cuts and layoffs, one thing that makes a company fit for fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For is its willingness to come up with creative ways to keep employees satisfied, and to treat them with respect and dignity. Retailers that made the grade follow.

  • Stew Leonard’s ranked 22. Wine managers at the supermarket chain went to Italy and Spain last year to learn more about wines. Ninety percent of managers came up through the ranks.

  • Patagonia, moving up to 41 from 58 last year, is the kind of company to pay employees’ bail and give training in nonviolent civil disobedience. The outerwear maker also offers $2,000 to subsidize purchase of a hybrid vehicle and has organic food in the cafeteria.

  • Whole Foods Market, Inc., slipped to 48 from 41. The natural and organic food retailer opened its first market in Manhattan this year and had a two-for-one stock split, good for employees, since all are eligible for stock options. Work teams that cut costs share in the savings.

  • Starbucks Corporation, previously unranked, hit the spot at 58. The coffee chain provides medical, dental, and vision coverage to all workers, including part-timers. Stores in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania brewed free coffee for relief workers after September 11.

  • REI moved up to 62 from 65. People who like to hike, bike, and raft down rivers love working at this consumer co-op. They get full benefits, including health insurance covering naturopathy, and annual appreciation gifts like fleece jackets.

  • Wegmans Food Markets slid to 68 from a previous year’s rank of 66. When 315 jobs at this supermarket chain were phased out recently, displaced workers were offered the option of another job without any cut in pay, or leaving with severance ranging up to one year’s pay.

  • Ukrop’s Super Markets jumped to 76 from 96. The family-owned grocery chain’s meat manager organized stores’ relief events for victims of September 11. One store hosted a car wash that raised $1,539; another raised $800 by grilling hot dogs.

  • Publix Super Markets Inc. descended to 83 from 50 last year. Owned largely by its employees, the Southern grocery chain hasn’t had a single layoff in 71 years. Eighty-five percent of employees surveyed say they feel a sense of pride in the company.

Moderator Comment: Do retailers, in general, pay enough
attention to organization behavior issues? What are the keys to a motivated
and successful workforce?

Happy workers do not necessarily translate into successful
businesses, but it seems to have worked well for the retailers in Fortune’s
list. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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