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The Best Retail Companies to Work For in 2017

Today there is no doubt that the retail sector is going through a period of change and disruption. As a result, the stories we read in the media are often very dramatic. We’ve all heard about the store closures from major retailers such as JCPenney, Radioshack, Sears and Macy’s. Spooky photos of abandoned shopping malls have become media staples.

But there is also good news. At the Annual Global Retailing Conference, Goldman Sachs reported that 76% of retail companies it surveyed had earnings that beat out their second quarter estimates. And while some traditional brick-and-mortar stores are facing challenges, e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon are making the online retail experience easier than ever before.

Meanwhile, retail continues to provide millions of people with jobs. In fact, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail salespeople and cashiers jobs account for 6% of all US employment—8.1 million people in total. And as more of the retail sector moves online, the types of jobs we find in the sector may change,  with a stronger emphasis on warehouses and fulfillment centers.

So in this time of change, which retail companies offer the best experiences to their employees? Our data scientists analyzed Indeed’s database of more than 15 million employer reviews to find out the answers. Here’s what they found.

Texas supermarket chain H-E-B leads a diverse list of stores

So who places first for retail? It’s southwestern supermarket giant H-E-B, which operates hundreds of stores across Texas. But the rest of the top 15 features a wide array of firms, including a toy store, sports retail and even coffee.

Best Places to Work in Retail

The Texas-based grocery store H-E-B leads our list of the best retailers to work for. In general, grocery stores make a strong showing, with Costco Wholesale at #5, Wegmans at #6, Trader Joe’s at 8 and Publix at #10. Convenience stores also fare well on this list, with QuickTrip at #4, Wawa at #14 and KwikTrip at #15.

However, while firms offering customers an affordable shopping experience do well we also see some niche retailers or sporting brands on the list. For instance, Build-a-Bear workshop places third, while Lululemon Athletica, a Canadian athletic apparel retailer appears at # 7 and VANS comes ninth.

These top companies also have headquarters located across a fairly even geographic spread. Lush Cosmetics and Lululemon Athletica are both based in Canada, HEB and Fossil are based in Texas, and Vans and Trader Joe’s both have headquarters in California. In the northeast, we see just Wawa and Wegmans, while the midwest wins out, with Minnesota-based Maurice’s, Wisconsin-based KwikTrip, and Missouri-based Build-a-Bear Workshop. Depending on how you classify the geographic location of Oklahoma, Quiktrip might even be included as well.

Who’s not on the list? Large department stores like Macy’s, Sears and JCPenney, as well as other well-known department stores that have fallen on hard times.

And if you think you’re seeing double, you’re not completely wrong. QuikTrip, a convenience store chain with locations throughout the South and Southwest, snagged the number 4 spot, while KwikTrip, another convenience store chain operating in Wisconsin and Minnesota finished out the list at number 15.

Keep reading to learn more about the best of the best in retail.

The best of the best: what the top 5 retailers are doing right

1. H-E-B

Founded: 1905

HQ: San Antonio, Texas

No. of employees: 10,000+

Retail workers often face demanding, rigid employee schedules. But at H-E-B, a grocery store with locations in Texas and northeastern Mexico, the management’s ability to be flexible with employees and treat them fairly is just one of the reasons why H-E-B captures the top spot on the list.

“They were very flexible with my schedule,” says one employee, who adds, “If more companies provided the service and management that H-E-B does, more people would love their jobs.”

H-E-B ranked second for job security and advancement opportunities, third for compensation and benefits and fourth for management among retail stores.

“Upward mobility [is] attainable,” another employee adds, also praising the company’s generous bonuses and raises as well as their dedication to helping employees grow.

One employee summed up the experience very simply: “Best company I’ve ever worked for.”

2. Lush Cosmetics

Founded: 1995

HQ: Vancouver, Canada

No. of employees: 5,001 – 10,000

A cosmetics company that sells all-natural beauty and bath products (including its famous fizzy bath bombs), Lush Cosmetics earned the top ranking for best culture among retail companies. So what makes this beauty company so special?

“This is unlike any other retail job,” one employee says. “The company is a big family and pushes the limits with awesome campaigns and ethical practices.”

Other employees point to a culture based on honesty and integrity. “It was a refreshing experience to work with such clean, fresh, and honest products,” says another review. “The employees were helpful, fun, professional, and an all-around pleasure to work with.”

And while the training can be quite extensive, one employee saw this as a benefit.

“Realizing what an awesome opportunity you have to make a person’s day by interacting with them in a genuine way makes it worthwhile.”

3. Build-A-Bear Workshop

Founded: 1997

HQ: St. Louis, Missouri

No. of employees: 1,001 – 5,000

Known for giving kids (and fun-loving adults) the experience of assembling their own stuffed bears, Build-a-Bear places first on the list in terms of management and work-life balance ratings.

“They go out of their way to make sure all of their employees are happy, comfortable, and knowledgeable,” says one employee. “They give all employees hands on one-on-one training to make sure they are at their potential.”

And it doesn’t hurt that employees spend their days helping make children happy.

“Whether I was greeting the family at the front of the store and showing them all the bears there were to choose from, or working the cash register and getting their bears ready to take home, it never failed to put a smile on the child’s face.”

4. QuikTrip

Founded: 1958

HQ: Tulsa, Oklahoma

No. of employees: 10,000+

As its name suggests, QuikTrip gives drivers a place to stretch their legs, fill up their tanks, and purchase snacks and drinks – all in a snap. What about the convenience store chain makes it a great place to work at? Among our retail list, QuikTrip ranks number one for job security and advancement.

“Being an employee comes with many benefits including competitive pay, adjustable hours, opportunity to grow, and an overall great work environment,” said an employee.

However, if you’re not a fan of fast-paced work that keeps you on your feet, this might not be the company for you. But if you’re up for the challenge, many employees say working at QuikTrip is worth the effort.

“The culture for excellence at QT is found in very few companies,” concluded one employee.

5. Costco Wholesale

Founded: 1983

HQ: Issaquah, Washington

No. of employees: 10,000+

You know this membership-only warehouse club for its low prices, bulk offerings and delicious food samples, but employees know the company for its exceptional compensation and benefits, as well as a refreshingly democratic culture and management style.

“The benefits and compensation cannot be topped by any other business in the industry,” one employee said.

But what might be more impressive is the company’s open door policy. “if there is an issue, you can directly go to higher management and not have to ‘climb the management ladder’,” another employee adds.

These perks seem to be balanced by the company’s sky high standards for performance, but many employees will tell you that high expectations are part what makes the company great.

Said an employee: “I loved Costco and my time there. I still recommend it to anyone that asks.”

Explore the full list of best places to work

Methodology: Indeed has over 15 million company reviews. This list was compiled from retail companies with at least 100 reviews, and these companies are the most highly rated on overall employee experience.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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