Who Wouldn’t Want to Work for…

Discussion
Jan 11, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for includes many of the usual suspects and a few new ones in the world of retailing, foodservice and consumer product manufacturing.


Here’s RetailWire’s abbreviated list of those that made Fortune’s Top 100.


2. Wegmans


3. Valero Energy


6. Container Store


8. J.M. Smucker


9. Recreational Equipment (REI)


10. S.C. Johnson


15. Whole Foods Market


21. QuikTrip


29. Starbucks


33. Nugget Markets


34. CDW


40. JM Family Enterprises


41. Timberland


42. Microsoft


44. Pella


46. Nordstrom


53. Hot Topic


56. Publix Super Markets


58. Stew Leonard’s


61. Sherwin-Williams


69. Valassis


92. Men’s Wearhouse


93. CarMax


95. Wm. Wrigley Jr.


96. IKEA (U.S.)


98. General Mills


100. Nike


Moderator’s Comment: What do the companies that made Fortune’s list share in common aside from being recognized by the magazine? What company, either
on the list or not, do you think is worthy of recognition for being one of the best and why?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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14 Comments on "Who Wouldn’t Want to Work for…"


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Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 1 month ago

When you look at the names of the companies who made the list you see a very common thread. They all offer the consumer a great customer experience. As we all know, customer experience is defined as SALES + CUSTOMER SERVICE.

That mantra must start within the organization in order to be successful in the translation to the consumer. Thus they treat their employees with respect, listen to them, empower them to think on their own and demand a respect of the customer.

Put those all together and it is no shock that these companies are on the list. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk and constantly monitor and measure their performance.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
The listed companies are all profitable. Unprofitable firms, and firms with declining profits or minimal profits generally aren’t great places to work. When profits (due to monopoly positioning, superior brand equity, outstanding customer franchise, unique products, outstanding services, great value) are superior, companies feel they can afford to treat people well with career growth and excellent benefits and compensation. Companies that are struggling typically feel they can’t afford those features. And “struggling” includes at least 80% of the businesses in America, since at least 80% make mediocre profits. The question is: which came first, treating people well or making superior profits? Many firms that make superior profits treat their staff badly anyway. The company needs a superior strategy, superior execution, and superior profits. Of course, it sure helps when you get the pick of the litter because you treat people in a superior fashion. A well-known enormous retailer keeps repeating that its benefits are “competitive.” It can’t make the list because its benefits are not “superior.” Offering superior benefits is not their stated goal anyway.… Read more »
Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

A common thread through these companies is their adherence to Don Dufek’s win-win-win-win formula. He says successful companies must make sure that their customers, employees, suppliers, and shareholders win. Application of this formula means taking innovative risks after learning who your customers are and what they want, valuing employees’ comments and feedback by incorporating their ideas, developing collaborative strategies with suppliers aimed at creating consumer value, and making sure that these innovative approaches are profitable. These companies work at doing that.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
Being a consultant, I get to work for a lot of different companies. I won’t mention their names but those who know me know who they are. For the most part, I have been very lucky to be associated with several mid-sized regional grocery chains. Many of them have grown and thrived despite the onslaught of Wal-Mart. Like Mark said above, one thing they all have in common is they are profitable. However, many of my clients do not put profits ahead of their employees. Naturally, the customer comes first, the employees come second, and then the owners come third. Doing that, profits will take care of themselves. They are not distracted by outside influences of Wall Street and investment analysts but focused on long term conservative growth. They are controlled by career grocery retailers and not accountants from outside the industry who take huge financial risks. Office politics are minimal and there are no job hopping mid-level managers. They are fun places to work and hard work is acknowledged and rewarded.
Marc Drizin
Guest
Marc Drizin
15 years 1 month ago
The companies that have made the Fortune list share many things in common, first and foremost an understanding that an engaged workforce is critical to the continued success of their organization. Their experience, and our own company’s research on behalf of our clients indicate that “happy employees make for happy customers who buy more stuff.” And in the case of retail, where commoditization is the norm, employees who are engaged with their employer are much more likely to go the extra mile on behalf of the customers, key to customer retention, repeat purchase, and business success. These companies understand the importance of providing daily satisfaction at work, having effective senior leadership, creating an ethical business environment, providing training and development for the long term, ensuring a world-class employee selection system, and allowing for an adequate work-life balance. These are some of the drivers of workforce engagement in the Retail industry. However, these “best of” companies share a business strategy as well. These companies have on average better net income, operating income and EBITDA than do… Read more »
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 1 month ago
All of the companies in the list are fantastic businesses. I have worked for a few of them and can attest to their generosity. However I would suggest that many of these companies do not offer the satisfaction that a start up operation does. The big guys are great – no doubt – but the individual’s ability to impact is much diminished by compartmentalization and constant meetings. I admit this is probably why these companies do as well as they do but they just don’t provide that much satisfaction. In fact I can remember that little water cooler conversation had to do with the company unless it was rumor. People generally spent more time discussing their hobbies, golf scores, or sports teams. I know I’m different but I want an environment where everyone is obsessed with the business, where strategy and tactics are discussed at the water cooler. Where a belief in the product and the potential is the center of everyone’s thoughts. Have I ever experienced this? I am afraid I have! It is… Read more »
Joseph Peter
Guest
Joseph Peter
15 years 1 month ago
Walgreen Company should be mentioned here. They are an excellent employer to work for. I have been at corporate for four years and I worked on the store side for three. I have previously worked at a large architectural office that was barely making it. Changing over to the retail design staff at Walgreens was an excellent move. Some of Walgreen employee benefits: -Job security!!!! -Large array of healthcare coverage with low co pays. -Excellent profit sharing and matching. -Family like atmosphere at the corporate office….CEO, President, upper management share the same cafeteria with the entire office staff. -Established 100 year + company with an optimistic organic growth plan -Diverse workforce -Benefit fund comprised of donations for employees and their families who are devastated by natural disasters or unexpected deaths -Company ethics and traditions are employed by upper management and spread throughout the company to all employees…. There are many more….so I cannot understand why WAG did not make it on the list. I am a 28 year old store designer for Walgreens…..
James Tenser
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

I’m a bit surprised to see Costco missing from this list, as it shares many of the positive characteristics I associate with the better retailers identified here.

Good places to work share several common traits, in my opinion. These include, economic success, good compensation, a culture of fairness, opportunity for advancement, and concern for the customer’s best interest.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Good comments thus far. The people at these companies are empowered to thrive and be enthusiastic. I’ve been at companies where new ideas were greeted with mistrust and negativity, as in, “We never did it that way before,” or “What the hell’s he trying to do, make us look bad?” That’s generally the sign of a weak and insecure manager at the top; it certainly was in my own experience. In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten out of places like this sooner instead of spending years trying to change them, and being being beat up mentally and spiritually. My advice to anybody in a bad job is the same as it is for anybody in a bad marriage: if you can’t fix it quickly, get out! Find a place like a Wegmans or a General Mills where there is strong, enlightened management that wants to attract creative enthusiasts. And yes, profitability helps the culture, big-time!

Mark Heckman
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
Some of the listed firms seem to make this list year and year out, which either means they are consistently good places to work, or they know how to project that persona to Fortune Magazine. I know from personal experience that some of these companies are extremely well run and continue to challenge and reward their employees for actual performance, which is one of the most important criterion for a top company, in my view. Others, while being profitable, are less accomplished in this area and even have issues of focus and execution that could use some fine-tuning, but continue to thrive because they have artfully created competitive entry barriers. Given the inherent fluidity of companies today either from poor performance against new competition or merger and acquisition activity, I believe middle managers and front line employees would value stability, longevity and consistency. Senior managers, on the other hand, who have tasted the fruits of stock options and golden parachutes, will likely be looking for EBITDA performance and the company’s ability to increase shareholder equity… Read more »
Marc Wulfraat
Guest
Marc Wulfraat
15 years 1 month ago
Personally, I would say that Quality of Life is the most important attribute of an occupation whereby this embodies total hours worked, travel commitments and time away from home, compensation, benefits, relationship with one’s superiors and fellow associates, being part of a company that has the ability to achieve growth and success; amongst other things. The sum total of these elements is what I call quality of life and it takes on a different meaning for each of us. Having served some of the firms in your list in the consulting capacity, I notice some common attributes worth mentioning that I believe are the reason these firms achieve better than average success. Generally speaking, the managers in these companies are the smartest people in their industry – plain and simple. They are not risk averse and most importantly, they make and execute decisions quickly rather than having to spend months and years analyzing and having changes approved through multiple levels of management boards. They are empowered and they know it and this translates into a… Read more »
Jack Chang
Guest
Jack Chang
15 years 1 month ago

Fortune’s methodology of interviewing current employees is hardly objective. In past employment at a company with a top ranking in 2001, I resigned over serious conflict of interest issues within the firm’s sales tactics. The firm has since been excluded from the list after NASD fines.

If Fortune actually interviewed former employees of these companies, they would most likely find a less rosy picture.

John Rand
Guest
John Rand
15 years 1 month ago

I, too, have worked with a number of these companies and I have to say that my experience with them is that they have a hard-to-define sense of purpose or mission that pervades the enterprise – they know who they are, they welcome their people into the vision, and they stay true to that vision. The sense of belonging takes “good benefits and job security” to the level of “great place to belong.”

Kai Clarke
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

These excellent companies recognize that people are the key to their success. These people are both the ones who work for the company, and the customers whom the company serves. When a company becomes a “people first” organization, it recognizes the value of these internal and external customers and places this value first. Everything else follows, and with great people come great customers, great products, great profits and a great company. This in-turn attracts better human resources to the organization, which take the entire company to the next level. This is the one unifying thread with all of these organizations, and will continue to be the key factor between good companies and great companies.

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