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'Employees First, Customers Second': Wegmans' Work Culture

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB095
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1916-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
Industry : Retail
Countries : The US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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“No matter what we have invested in our people, we've gotten more in return. I have always believed that our path to great customer service began with that investment. That philosophy has proven itself many times over.”

- Robert Wegman, former Chairman of Wegmans, in 2006.1

“As a business strategy, when you invest in people, they want to make a difference in the work they do. Our employees have a higher sense of purpose.”

- Gerard Q. Pierce, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Wegmans, in 2006.2

“I feel as though it's my second family.”

- A Wegmans employee, in 1998.3

An Employee-Friendly Company

In January 2007, Wegmans Food Markets Inc. (Wegmans), a major grocery retail chain based in the US, featured at the #3 spot on the annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in the US, published by Fortune, a prominent business magazine, in association with the Great Place to Work Institute4.

Wegmans also had the unique distinction of being one of the few companies to have featured on this list every year since Fortune began publishing it in 1998 (Refer to Exhibit I for Wegmans'rankings from 1998). In 2007, although Wegmans was ranked behind Google Inc. and Genentech Inc.,5 it still retained its position as the best retail employer in the US.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

Wegmans had one the best employee retention rates among retail companies in the US, particularly among grocery stores.

The company's attrition rate of seven percent for full-time workers6 was considerably lower than the grocery industry average of around 20 percent, in the early 2000s.

Voluntary attrition among part-time workers, at around 28 percent, was also considerably lower than the industry average, which was estimated to be 79 percent.7

According to Fortune, the primary factors that made Wegmans popular with employees were its high pay and generous benefits. The company was also known for its strong work culture, which served to create a high level of employee engagement.

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1] “Wegmans Again Ranks High on Fortune 'Best Companies to Work For'List,” News Room, www.wegmans.com.

2] Candace Coakley, “Becoming a Great Place to Work: The Story of Wegmans,” BostonWorks, October 23, 2006.
 
3] “100 Best Companies to Work For 1998,” http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune, January 12, 1998.

4] Great Place to Work Institute, a San Francisco-based organization, compiled the rankings for Fortune based on two criteria: an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company, and the opinions of the company's employees. The latter criterion was given more weight, and two-thirds of the total score came from employee responses to a 57-question survey which went to a minimum of 400 randomly selected employees from each company. (www.wegmans.com)

5] Google, a leading IT company, had the most popular search engine on the World Wide Web. Genentech was a prominent biotech company. Both of these were classified by Fortune as medium sized companies (by size of workforce), making Wegmans the best place to work among the large companies in the US.

6] “100 Best Companies to Work For 2007,” http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune, January 22, 2007.

7] “The Power of Storytelling in a Great Place to Work,” www.greatplacetowork.com, March 21, 2006.

 

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