CHICAGO -- Rude customers, low wages and long hours—that’s the typical picture of a retail job. Perks and a dynamite culture are not always included in that image. Yet, convenience stores and grocery stores showed up early and often in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018 coverage.
Each year, Fortune teams up with Great Place to Work, which audits and certifies company cultures, to rank top employers based on 315,000 employee surveys measuring executive team effectiveness, innovation and people-focused programs. From the partnership, the media brand creates an overall ranking, as well as more tailored lists, such as The 20 Best Workplaces in Retail.
Here’s how two c-store chains and two grocery chains that are among the best retailers to work for are winning and keeping employees in this unforgiving labor market.
Sheetz Inc. took the fourth slot on Fortune’s 20 Best Workplaces in Retail ranking. The Altoona, Pa.-based convenience-store made headlines in 2016 for spending $15 million on employee wage increases. The company continues to work toward offering wages in the 90th percentile with other retailers, the company told Great Place to Work. For the last few years, the company has been shifting to a majority full-time workforce. “It can’t be just about wages,” Stephanie Doliveira, Sheetz’s vice president of human resources, told CSP Daily Newslast year. “You can pay $15 an hour, and if your employees are only getting 10 hours each week, they can’t make a living wage.” In addition to medical, dental and vision healthcare coverage, the company offers care at on-site wellness centers and stress-management and health-education classes.
Sheetz employees have opportunities to grow, with $1,500 a year in tuition benefits and discounts at 26 universities and colleges. Staff members and their kids can also take advantage of education scholarships, totaling up to $10,000.
Earlier this year, Doliveira earned Great Place to Work’s For All Leadership Award. “Stephanie’s contributions have made an impact on every single employee in this company,” said President and CEO Joe Sheetz in a statement. “From the identification of our core company values to major investments in leadership development programs and employee recognition events to our recent move to a more full-time workforce, Stephanie has been instrumental in creating a culture that makes Sheetz a great place to work. Stephanie’s leadership at Sheetz can be directly tied to our current level of success and the continued growth we will experience for years to come.”
2. Cumberland Farms
Coming in sixth on Fortune’s list of retailers, Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms invests in communicating with its workforce. The Obama administration recognized Cumberland Farms for its Farm Feed Team Member App, which connects and engages more than 2,300 employees.
The company also offers bonuses to employees who provide superior customer service. Last year, Cumberland Farms paid team members and store managers $9 million in incentive pay.
Many companies boast about internal promotions, but Cumberland Farms is rigid about the practice. The retailer has promoted every single store manager internally.
The company also aims to give team members more control over their schedules. From day one, full-time team members have 18 days of paid time off, increasing to 23 days after a year of employment. Part-time team members can take five days of paid time off after a year with the company. The company also offers paid sick leave to take care of a child or relative.
While on duty, associates can take advantage of free coffee, fountain and frozen beverages, and they receive free lunch and snack coupons on their start-date anniversary. “We take the results of the surveys seriously and work each and every day to make Cumberland Farms a great place to work for all,” said Ari Haseotes, CEO of Cumberland Farms, in a statement. “Our team member discount card and enhanced communications throughout the organization are examples of changes that are a direct result of feedback from past surveys."
3. Wegmans Food Markets
Wegmans Food Markets earned the top spot on Fortune’s roundup of best retail employers and second spot on the overall list, behind only software company Salesforce. The Rochester, N.Y.-based supermarket chain wins over team members with its familial culture. The company told Great Place to Work that it builds trusting relationships with workers by offering industry-leading benefits, career development and pay—the average salary for an associate is $37,120 a year. “Wegmans is a place where those who seek to build a career for themselves while following their passions can do so,” said a surveyed employee. “We are provided with the tools and mentorship we need to succeed and are surrounded by a tight-knit family of good people.” Last year, Wegmans invested $50 million in staff training and development and filled half of its open roles internally.
The retailer also offers some unconventional perks for the industry. For instance, the grocery brand told Great Place to Work that its flexible scheduling and work-life balance initiatives help draw recruits. After one year with Wegmans, part-time workers accrue eight days of paid time off and full-time workers get 14. Wegmans also pays for 86% of health coverage for its part-time and full-time staff. Employees can take advantage of telecommuting and subsidized fitness programs as well.
To stay tapped into its workforce, Wegmans gathers employee feedback through a two-way Q&A blog with the senior vice president of operations.
4. Publix Super Markets
Publix Super Markets Inc. slid into the second slot on Fortune's list of retail employers. Publix has been employee-owned for the better part of a century and is one of the largest worker-owned operations in the U.S. The model just might translate into team member retention. The Lakeland, Fla.-based grocery-store chain employs dozens of workers above the age of 90, according to Fortune.
Other benefits that could encourage team members to stick around is the stock ownership plan, available to all employees and used to contribute to their retirement savings at no cost, and hefty holiday bonuses. Full-time associates get an extra two weeks of pay during the holidays and monthly salaried employees receive a full month.
Publix offers student workers up to $12,800 toward degrees in certain fields. The benefit is available to associates who work as few as 10 hours per week.
Recognition is another way the company wins worker loyalty. After 10, 15 and 20 years with Publix, seasoned associates are honored with a lunch or dinner celebration.