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The 10 Best Retailers To Work For In America

 May 16, 2012 04:02 PM

(By Retail Sails) For 15 years, Fortune has annually published the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For‘ in America.

Below, we take a look at the top 10 American retailers to work for – those companies that have consistently made the list by treating their employees as their most important asset. It's no coincidence that all of these chains are known for their stellar customer service and are among the best-performing in their respective sectors.

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Wegman's Food Markets
2012 Overall Rank: 4
5-YR Avg Rank: 3.6
Employees: 41,717
Voluntary Turnover: 4%
1-YR Job Growth: 5%
Most common job (salaried): Store Department Manager – $56,040/yr
Most common job (hourly): Store Customer Service – $29,286/yr

With 2011 sales of $6.2 billion, this 79-store grocery chain is the 55th-largest private company in the U.S. What truly distinguishes Wegman's is its people, though – the company has made the ‘Best Companies to Work For' list every year since its inception in 1998 and has never had a layoff, one of only 3 American companies that can claim both.

If the company has to close a store, eliminate a department or position, it has always managed to keep the employees and retrained them for new positions saying they would rather have trained staff than have to invest in new hires later. As a testament to how great a place it is to work, 11% of the workforce has been with the company for more than 15 years.

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Each year every employee gets a holiday greeting card from the Wegman family, who still own the grocery chain.

Wegman's has been ranked in the top 10 every year since 2003 and in the top 5 places to work each year since 2005, when it was ranked #1.

Recreational Equipment (REI)
2012 Overall Rank: 8
5-YR Avg Rank: 15.4
Employees: 10,466
Voluntary Turnover: 5%
1-YR Job Growth: 12%
Most common job (salaried): Retail Store Manager – $103,112/yr
Most common job (hourly): Retail Sales Specialist – $27,924/yr

The privately held consumers' cooperative has made the list every year since inception, one of only 5 retailers and 13 companies overall to do so.

Perhaps it's because every employee is eligible for subsidized health care? Or maybe it's the 50%-75% discounts on full-price REI branded apparel and equipment, free rental of equipment like skis and kayaks, and annual gifts of REI gear?

It could be that after 15 years of service employees are eligible for a 4-week paid sabbatical, as well as one every 5 years after that. REI was also ranked 4th overall for work-life balance, where employees feel "encouraged to balance their work and personal life."

Whole Foods Market
2012 Overall Rank: 32
5-YR Avg Rank: 22.4
Employees: 60,213
Voluntary Turnover: 7%
1-YR Job Growth: 6%
Most common job (salaried): Associate Store Team Leader – $80,199/yr
Most common job (hourly): Cashier – $26,812/yr

Whole Foods has been on the list every year since inception – though the company has grown from just 87 stores and $1.7 billion in sales in 1998 to 311 markets and over $10.1 billion in sales last year, it hasn't scaled back on providing for its employees.

In the age of executive excess, executive pay is capped at 19 times the average full-time salary and co-founder and CEO John Mackey has taken a salary of just $1 since 2006.

Minorities are extremely well-represented at 43% of workers.

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