Wegmans Food Markets, a four-state chain of grocery stores based in Rochester,
New York, tops Fortune magazine's eighth annual "100 Best Companies to
Work For" list.
In announcing the list Monday, Fortune noted that Wegmans has an unusual motto:
"Employees first, customers second." The rationale behind it? When
employees are happy, customers will be too.
The magazine also called Wegmans "that rare breed: a grocer beloved by
its employees--and one that is also trouncing competitors in a very tough
Wegmans "has proved adept at battling the intractable problem facing
grocery stores in this country: There's no compelling reason to shop there anymore,"
according to Fortune writer Matthew Boyle. "Privately held Wegmans--which
had 2004 sales of $3.4 billion from 67 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, and Virginia--has long been a step ahead."
The list and related stories appear in Fortune's January 24 issue, on newsstands
January 17 and at www.Fortune.com now. (See the links below.)
The top 10
No. 2 on the Fortune list is W.L. Gore, the privately held maker of Gore-Tex
fabric. The magazine reports that when it comes to managing employees, the Newark,
Delaware-based company does things a little differently. For example, workers
evaluate fellow team members each year to determine compensation.
Thanks to a boom in homebuying last year, customer service reps at No. 3 Republic
Bancorp received $10,000 in bonuses; nearly half of non-management employees
at the Owosso, Michigan-based mortgage banker were awarded stock, and all employees
got stock options.
No. 4 Genentech, of South San Francisco, launched three new drugs from June
2003 to February 2004, and celebrated by throwing a lavish party for all employees
and their guests--with Elton John as the entertainment.
San Jose-based Xilinx, a supplier of programmable chips, is No. 5 on the list.
One of every five employees holds a patent and all employees receive stock options
upon hire. Last year's profit-sharing bonus was 9.2% of salary, according to
Rounding out the top ten are:
- J.M. Smucker (No. 6), where complimentary bagels and muffins are served
- S.C. Johnson & Son (No. 7), where workers in the manufacturing division
are given performance reviews by peers, not management;
- Griffin Hospital (No. 8), which offers family-style kitchens with meal service,
strolling musicians, chair massages--and no fluorescent lighting;
- Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird (No. 9), which has an end-of-the-week
cocktail hour; and,
- Vision Service Plan (No. 10), which allows employees to extend special discounts
on eye-care services and eyewear to four friends of their choice.
Separating the large, small, and mid-size
In addition to its general list, Fortune this year has created three other
lists, featuring large, mid-size, and small companies. There are 37 large companies
on the list, 34 mid-sized companies, and 29 small companies.
Also included is a "Hall of Fame," a list of 22 companies that have
appeared on every list since the list began in 1998. Those companies are A.G.
Edwards, American Cast Iron Pipe, Cisco Systems, FedEx, First Horizon National,
Four Seasons Hotels, Goldman Sachs, J.M. Smucker, Marriott International, MBNA,
Microsoft, Nordstrom, Publix Super Markets, Recreational Equipment (REI), SAS
Institute, Synovus, TDIndustries, Timberland, Valassis, W.L. Gore, Wegmans Food
Markets, and Whole Foods Market.
"The 100 Best Companies to Work For" list is compiled for Fortune
by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute
in San Francisco, based on two criteria: an evaluation of the policies and culture
of each company, and the opinions of the company's employees. The latter is
given more weight; two-thirds of the total score comes from employee responses
to a 57-question survey which goes to a minimum of 350 randomly selected employees
from each company. It asks about things such as attitudes towards management,
job satisfaction, and camaraderie within the organization. The remaining one-third
of the score is based on an evaluation of each company's demographic makeup,
pay and benefits programs, and culture. Companies are scored in four areas:
credibility (communication to employees), respect (opportunities and benefits),
fairness (compensation, diversity), and pride/camaraderie (philanthropy, celebrations).