Wegmans is once again on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
Here’s something you should know: This list is total garbage.
I’ve always wondered how a company with mostly part-time workers who start at minimum wage could rank so highly. Wegmans scored in the high 90’s on every measurement. Really?
It turns out, Wegmans pays to be on this list. Fortune doesn’t do the ranking and provides little information about methodology. A company called Great Place to Work Institute conducts the surveys. The minimum price of entry is $995. Companies can choose more expensive packages to become clients of GPWI. Wegmans has been a client, according to a 2011 story in 24/7wallstreet. This kind of relationship taints the polling process.
What really damns the survey is how it is administered. According to a manual I downloaded from the GPWI site, the surveys are not scientific. Companies like Wegmans select the workers who will take the surveys. Companies administer the surveys themselves. Companies also get to choose when they administer the survey. GPWI says the surveys must be done at random and provides a guide to companies on how to choose a good sample. (Wegmans chose 722 workers, according to GPWI.) There’s no way any reputable polling firm would conduct a survey in this manner.
GPWI’s website encourages companies to get on their list to “strengthen your brand.” GPWI will provide winners PR tips for how to maximize the recognition. The profiles of each winning company also have a “how to get hired” section, in which they make a pitch to prospective employees. This shows the list is merely a marketing and recruitment tool.
Wegmans own data shows issues with employee retention, as nearly one-third of workers have been there less than two years. Only 20 percent have been there more than 10 years. Two-thirds of workers are part-timers, who must work 30 hours a week to be eligible for benefits. The average salary for a full-time customer service worker is $34,000, including overtime. That’s not bad, but it’s not a great living.
I love shopping at Wegmans. I’m sure many employees love working at Wegmans. (I am a Wegmans alumna.) But let’s get real about this list and what it means. Absolutely nothing.
Update: A Wegmans spokesperson took huge issue with my mention of retention. Many of the workers are teenagers and many have just been hired at new stores. That skews the numbers. Totally fair points! But on the methodology, Wegmans didn’t have anything to add, except that it follows Fortune’s protocols. As I’ve pointed out, Fortune’s protocols are not scientific. Wegmans stands by its participation in the survey and notes it’s widely recognized.
Another update: Wegmans followed up again, saying GPWI provides envelopes for workers to send back the surveys. Wegmans emphasizes it’s not doing anything devious here. I hope that’s not what I’m implying. I’m only saying the survey is not independently administered. Wegmans picks the workers. If you really want to find out what employees think, you’ll have an independent firm conduct such a survey from start to finish.
Links of the Day:
- Hefty salaries for state PR workers who don’t answer questions.
- Water Street Music Hall may lose its entertainment license.
- Case of five teenagers in Brooklyn falsely accused of rape raises many issues for the legal system.
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) March 3, 2016