The Best Retailers to Work For

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The Best Retailers to Work For

By Tim Denman - 03/08/2016
In this age of customer-centric retailing retailers need a fully satisfied and engaged workforce, committed to fulfilling individual shopper demand. In order to provide superior customer service associates must be provided with a stimulating and satisfying work environment that not only meets their basic needs but encourages and rewards superior service.

Fortune's annual ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, is an in-depth, cross-industry look at the employers that are providing their workers with the most desirable work environment. Fortune partnered with Great Place to Work to conduct the extensive employee survey. Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the results on an employee survey, which was sent to a random sample of employees from each company. This survey asked questions related to employees’ attitudes about management’s credibility, overall job satisfaction, and camaraderie. The other third is based on responses to a culture audit, which included detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts.

The following are the five retailers that scored the highest in the annual report:

Wegmans. The family-owned Northeast grocery chain has over 88 locations under its banner with plans to increase its store count to over 100 in the near future. Although a growing enterprise, the retailer has kept a family atmosphere, providing an enjoyable work environment for its employees. Among the benefits available to employees are: employee influenced scheduling, wellness initiatives, yoga sessions, health screenings, etc. Fortune Ranking: 4.

The Container Store. Working for the storage solutions retailer is an
in-demand position — only about 3% of applicants are hired. Once a part of the team, however, associates are rewarded with above average pay and a fun, easy-going culture that holds employee happiness and engagement in high regard. Container Store employee benefits include: health insurance for part-time employees, telecommuting policy, compressed work weeks, paid sabbaticals, etc. Fortune Ranking: 14.

REI. The largest co-operatively owned retailer in the U.S. is dedicated to not only providing a stimulating work environment, but to incentivizing workers to make a career out of their employment at REI. Last year the retailer contributed over $60 million to the employee incentive and profit-sharing plans, including giving every eligible employee an automatic 5% company retirement contribution into their 401(k) and an additional 7% profit-sharing contribution. Fortune Ranking: 26.

Build-A-Bear. CEO Sharon Price John took over in mid-2013 and has been working diligently to return the retailer to its former glory, introducing a new brand position and a transparent five-year strategy. Associates have embraced the changes, and the retailer's stock price has more than doubled since John took over. Among the benefits offered include: health insurance to part-timers, job sharing, compressed work weeks, discounted gym memberships, tuition reimbursement, and paid time off for volunteering. Fortune Ranking: 45.

IKEA. The U.S. arm of the Swedish home furnishing giant makes a return to the annual ranking this year. The retailer sports an egalitarian culture that provides all part-time workers who work more than 20 hours per week full benefits, including gender reassignment, infertility treatments, and long-term disability. In addition, workers benefit from the following programs: telecommuting, job sharing, compressed work weeks, sick days, paid-time off, and same-sex benefits. Fortune Ranking: 63.