We interviewed two heroic frontline employees at Wegmans. Watch the full video interview with Jill and Patty here.
While many of us have been working from home, 50 million frontline employees have been continuing to show up to work in America every day.
We interviewed two such heroic employees for a frontline view of what it is like to be serving customers and their communities during the pandemic.
Jill Metz serves customers almost daily in the bakery department at supermarket chain Wegmans. Her colleague, Patty Kaminski, is the Wegmans Buffalo, NY District Manager.
Wegmans has been named to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® by Great Place to Work® for 23 consecutive years. In 2020 they made the number 3 position.
Wegmans’ frontline employees have made direct sacrifices to come to work, including risking their own physical and mental health, plus they share in the sacrifices that their families and loved ones are making.
And yet, these frontline workers are motivated – proud even – to show up at work every day.
Here are Wegmans’ keys to keeping their frontline workers physically and psychologically safe at work:
Employee safety is priority number one
Wegmans makes sure their employees know that if they don’t feel comfortable or safe coming to work – staying home is an option that comes without judgment or consequence.
And on the frontlines, it’s clear that Wegmans employees feel safe. Just read some of these comments from their pulse survey:
“Wegmans gives all the employees the right to feel safe at work.”
“They are really concerned about human safety. They want to make sure you go home the same way you come to work.”
“[Wegmans] really cares about its employees and managing their work/home life balance. Any issue we may come across at home, our managers are always asking if they can do anything for us to make the situation better.”
Make crucial decisions quickly
“They took care of things instantly. Instantly they took the fear away from us,” said Jill.
Wegmans gave employees relief from the “what ifs” of risky frontline work by swiftly putting safety measures — like contamination rules — in place.
“As soon as an item went out on the floor, it couldn’t come back into the bakery,” explained Jill.
Constantly seek feedback
Patty says that the way leadership have adapted to the constant change over the past three months has been “through input from our people and constant feedback.”
Employee feedback has helped them continue to keep the work environment comfortable for their teams.
Show appreciation — in ways large and small
Since March, Wegmans has offered all employees free coffee every day.
Jill says the free coffee gives her the chance to mentally take care of herself by taking a break to “just breathe for a minute.” This small gesture tells employees that taking time out is something the company invests in.
Wegmans also has shown appreciation by:
- Increasing compensation for hourly workers
- Sharing customer compliments recognizing employees
- Stockpiling goods for employees to save them the stress of getting groceries before they’re depleted.
Ensure leaders are approachable
When asked how the company creates Wegmans’ renowned culture of care, Patty said it came down to having “approachable leaders.”
At Wegmans, leaders strive to be people who employees feel safe to come to with their personal stressors or concerns.
Communicate frequently and transparently
“Every day is a learning curve,” says Jill, so Wegmans makes sure they keep employees up to date on the rapid changes with company-wide communications as well as daily morning team huddles.
Wegmans employees often called out excellent communication in their recent employee survey:
“There is a lot of communication and transparency throughout the store and leadership is very good at including all employees in conversations about upcoming changes and information that is pertinent to their success.”
Is your company showing up for its frontline workers like Wegmans? Nominate your workplace for one of our company culture awards and Best Workplaces™ lists.