Wegmans Tops List of Employee-Friendly Companies

Wegmans Tops ‘Fortune’ List of Employee-Friendly Companies (NPR)

The grocery chain Wegmans gets the nod as Fortune magazine’s best company to work for. The company has made a point of keeping employees happy with its motto: “Employees first, customers second.”

I trust they’re not posting that motto anywhere customers will see it.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric says:

    Well, they’ve certainly kept this customer happy. I can’t wait until the one in Fairfax opens.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, the one down the road from me in Dulles/Sterling is quite nice. It’s a bit pricey for my tastes but the selection is great.

    It is a rather odd motto, though.

  3. WMDavis says:

    I know my paycheck ultimately comes from customers buying my products, but when you think a bit about it, “Employees first, customers second” is a great way to get maximum performance while maintaining a more positive attitude at the company. That results in positive employees being more friendly with the customers. An employee that loves his company, his boss, and his work environment is always going to show a nicer face to the customer. That employee will want to do everything he can to help a customer because that helps the company that employs him and pays him so much respect.

    It is also logical to assume that a company that treats its employees with such respect will have the same attitude towards its customers.

    Besides, who said that “Customers always first” is the best way to run a company? MOST companies like to think they put customers first but so many employees work under such poor conditions or under bad management that they couldn’t care less about the customers. The motto is nice but not practical.

    Another phrase that is overused and over rated is “The customer is always right.” If you have ever worked a support hotline for you would know right off that the customer is generally wrong much of the time. You treat them with respect and do whatever can to help them, but they are not always right. Its the same if you have ever worked in a women’s retail clothing store during a big sale! My goodness! These “always right” customers will tear each other’s limbs off should anyone get in their way. Good managers of support departments know this and they get maximum performance and less job-fatigue from their support employees if they treat the employees with a great deal of admiration and respect for their work.

    I like the “Employees first, customers second” motto… it is refreshing to see.

  4. I always heard good things about William Wegman and how he treats his dogs…

    Oh, wait. It’s a different Wegman.


  5. Bithead says:

    All kidding aside, I live about four miles from their home office and have been dealing with Wegmans as a local entity, all my life. They went from a local grocer to a first class act at every level in about 30 years. I daresay there are more Wegman’s stores in and around Rochester, than there are McDonald’s. I shop there myself, and ahve had freinds who have worked there. The ones I know who work there all tell the same story… loud praises for the place.

  6. DC Loser says:

    I think Costco has a similar philosophy regarding their employees. Such an outlook has great benefits for the bottom line. Retention and morale stay high, with low turnovers. And the happy employees will do their utmost to keep their customers happy, and it all goes round and round.

    Let’s compare this to the other model – WalMart’s. You cut prices to the bone and force your suppliers to do so until you can’t get any more savings out of them and they are barely hanging on by their fingers. Your employees make a little above minimum wage. Sooner or later you can’t cut prices anymore. Your employees want to go on to something that pay higher, your turnover starts to go up, your stores look like crap because the employees aren’t motivated to do their best job, and your customers move on to Target.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of shopping in WalMart. But I think sooner or later they will get to the point that they can’t cut anymore. My local K-Mart turned to crap when they couldn’t compete any more on price and selection. Costco manages to get good prices with good service and their employees are unionized and get high industry salaries. I wonder which model will win in the end.

  7. I live about 20 miles from the nearest Wegman’s. We drive pass a ShopRite, a Giant a probably others; for my family, the ride pays for itself. Their prices are more than competetive, the service is fantastic, and more than a few employees know us by name.

    Maybe they shouldn’t put that motto where the customers can see it, but then again, it might well explain their level of service.