Working in food service can be tough. If the recent wave of grocery stores and fast food chains unionizing is any indication, there are plenty of flaws in those workplaces, ranging from low pay to long hours to understaffing, not to mention the unpredictable nature of what kinds of customers you may have to deal with day to day. But it must not be impossible to create a positive environment for food service workers, at least not according to Fortune’s latest Best Workplaces list. The retail category features grocery stores and restaurants that can be examples for the rest of the industry.
Fortune’s best places to work in the food industry
Lest you worry that this list is determined by CEOs and other people at the top simply wanting to make their company look good, Fortune emphasizes that only employees have a say. This year the results were based on more than one million employee survey responses, and those surveys included 60 statements to be rated on a five-point scale and two open-ended questions to get the most comprehensive picture of each company’s culture. These responses combined with industry data points determine the rankings.
The top three companies are all grocery-focused or grocery-adjacent:
- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
- Target Corporation
- Sheetz, Inc.
In the top 20, other food-related places include:
- Publix Supermarkets
- Nugget Market, Inc.
- Aldi Inc.
- White Castle Mgmt. Co.
Knowing what we know about fast food workers’ experiences on the job, perhaps it’s unsurprising that only one fast food chain made the list. It’s a testament to the need for things like California’s FAST Recovery Act that are focused specifically on improving that part of the industry. But across the board, this list of companies might provide a roadmap for those food-related businesses that missed the mark.
What the best places to work all have in common
According to the Fortune surveys, almost all of these companies boast an 80% or more employee satisfaction rating (Target is the outlier at 70%—the company’s contribution of its profits to community organizations and diverse staff factors into its high ranking). That satisfaction rating is based on a number of statements presented on the survey, and while some may seem obvious, these are a few that stand out across all top companies:
- “I am given the resources and equipment to do my job.”
- “When you join the company, you are made to feel welcome.”
- “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.”
- “I am able to take time off from work when I think it’s necessary.”
- “Management is honest and ethical in its business practices.”
- “Management is competent at running the business.”
- “I am treated as a full member here regardless of my position.”
- “Our customers would rate the service we deliver as ‘excellent.’”
TL;DR: Treating employees like people, giving them the tools to do their jobs, and running a business in an ethical, honest, community-focused way leads to excellent service and a good work environment. Who knew?