Great Grocers: Some of the Best Workplaces are in Your Neighborhood

 Your local grocery or convenience store may be one of the best workplaces.
Our winning grocery and convenience stores show that an industry known for slim profit margins, multiple locations, and high employee turnover can still foster multiple best workplaces in retail.
Want to see what some of the most beloved employers in the country look like? You might not have to travel far.

Of the 10 top-ranked companies on our recent list of the Best Workplaces in Retail, five were grocery or convenience stores. That’s no small feat for these employers, considering grocers’ tiny profit margins, multiple locations, or the fact that turnover tops 50 percent among convenience store associates.

These businesses offer outstanding examples to follow for any organization seeking an inspired and successful team.

Turning jobs into careers at Wegmans

Employees have a lot to love at Wegmans Food Markets, not the least of which is the company’s no-strings-attached support for higher education. A scholarship funded in part by thousands of employee donations offers up to $1,500 yearly to part-time employees and $2,200 per year for full-timers to pursue any field of study at an accredited college.

To ensure all employees reach their potential, the top-ranked retail workplace spends more than $50 million annually on training. This encompasses online courses, cooking certifications, trips to visit suppliers, internships and leadership development programs. As a result, the company fills half of its open positions internally through promotions or lateral moves.

“What I find unique about Wegmans is the longevity of many employees’ careers,” one team member said. “I feel there are not many companies where you can start as a teenager, continue in college, work as an intern in a variety of departments and ultimately make it into a full-time career.”

Sheetz: Paying it forward

Bonuses aren’t just for executives at Sheetz. All employees at this East Coast convenience store brand receive quarterly payouts that together total 35 percent to 40 percent of the company’s pre-tax profits.

Team members earn an additional stake in their work after one year on the job. At that point, they’re given annual stock awards that vest after three years.

“It is rare to see a company that cares about the community and their workers as much as this company does,” said one Sheetz employee.

This generosity will result in a positive outcome for Sheetz, as well. Our data shows that one of the biggest differences in workplace experience between individual contributors and executives across the board is in perceptions of fair profit sharing. However, when companies narrow these and other differences between job roles to create a more consistent experience, they enjoy increased performance in metrics such as productivity and revenue growth.

Whole health at Whole Foods Market

The Best Workplaces know that employee well-being requires more than a paycheck. Whole Foods Market puts an exceptional focus on health and wellness, including immersive programs at resorts that feature presentations by doctors, cooking demos, guided workouts and field trips. Co-workers can up their employee discount by improving their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health indicators. Additional programs reward healthy eating and physical activity, while an online portal offers programs for losing weight, reducing stress or quitting smoking.

In the big picture, generous perks like these benefit more than employees. At the Best Workplaces in Retail, 90 percent of surveyed co-workers said customers would rate their service as “excellent.” They’re also organizations that nine in 10 employees said they’re proud to tell others about.

“Everyone is kind – they care for you almost like family,” said one Whole Foods employee. “By the time clock at our store we have a PTO donation for an employee whose husband is going through terminal cancer. The fact that our job will do that for an employee is just simply amazing!”
Kim Peters