Wegmans shows how to inspire happier employees

Wegmans employees say they feel like family and that’s because they are treated like family. Their motto: “Do What You Love.” Bravo, Wegmans!

If you’re looking for the secret to happier employees, a reliable place to look first is Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Fortune recently published its 2017 list, with familiar names like Google, Salesforce and Quicken Loans in the Top 10.
But coming in at #2 is a company most Americans won’t recognize — unless they live in a handful of northeastern states, or they pay attention to Fortune’s annual “Best Companies” list.
Wegmans is a small grocery-store chain with locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. This is Wegmans’ 20th year on Fortune’s list.
How does Wegmans manage to have happier employees in an industry known for low wages and high turnover? The secret may be in the company’s family-friendly employee recognition practices, according to an article in Quartz.
Wegmans employees continually praise the company’s family-like work environment on employer-review sites like Glassdoor.
It’s good for business.
“All that employee love is paying off,” Quartz’s Oliver Staley writes. “Wegmans is growing rapidly, expanding from its northeast base to add stores in Virginia (there are now 92 stores in six states), and revenues reportedly climbed to $7.9 billion in 2015 from $6.2 billion in 2011.”
Across the board, family-friendly workplaces are winning at engagement, with happier and more productive employees and a good reputation in the community. Forbes contributor Freek Vermeulen calls it “happiness for free” — family-friendly practices can be costly, but they essentially pay for themselves.
At a time when the majority of Americans are “open” to leaving their current jobs, we should all be following the lead of family-friendly workplaces for happier employees and better retention. Well done, Wegmans!

3 Ways to Practice Family-Friendly Employee Recognition

Family-friendly employee recognition isn’t just for parents of small children. A family-friendly work environment leads to happier employees of all ages, parents and non-parents alike.
Ultimately, it’s about recognizing employees as people first and supporting a healthy culture of work-life balance. Generally, family-friendly practices take three forms:
1. Family Care Benefits
When companies make it easier for employees to care for small children, sick spouses or elderly parents, employees can spend their time at work focused on work instead of worrying about meeting obligations.
Flexibility is the key. At Wegmans, employees enjoy greater schedule flexibility, a rarity in the retail industry. The flexibility to work around a child’s preschool schedule or Grandma’s doctor appointments gives employees peace of mind and better on-the-job focus.
Some companies are able to offer more than flexibility. The outdoor clothing company Patagonia offers on-site childcare, among other family-friendly benefits. As a result, Patagonia has 100% retention of mothers, not to mention a high rating on Fatherly’s list of “Best Places to Work for New Dads in 2016” — and recognition from The Washington Post, too.
2. Family-Like Work Environment
What makes a workplace team feel like family? Showing you care about each employee. From opportunities for advancement to frequent workplace celebrations, a culture of caring starts with individual and team recognition.
In addition to advancement opportunities, Wegmans offers $5 million in college scholarships to its employees.
Often, however, it’s the smallest ways of caring that stick with people. Supermarket managers at Wegmans celebrate each employee’s birthday with a cake for the whole staff, and provide hot chocolate for employees working outside in the cold. These small, thoughtful gestures help employees feel valued and appreciated day in and day out.
3. Perks for the Whole Family
Employees will give extra effort when they believe their employers care about them and their families, according to Quartz.
A Thank You gift employees can enjoy with family is one of the most effective ways to motivate excellent performance.
In fact, praise and non-financial incentives can be more effective at motivating employees than higher pay and bonuses. In a study Quartz cites, Israeli factory workers were more productive for longer when they were rewarded with gift certificates for pizza instead of cash.
Involving family in praise is a memorable way to recognize employees, too. At Pepsi, CEO Indra Nooyi writes letters of appreciation to parents of employees, thanking them “for the gift of your child to our company.” The practice has proved so popular that she writes hundreds of these Thank You letters a year.

Next Week: Don’t Miss International Day of Happiness!

Monday, March 20 is International Day of Happiness! Renew your commitment to happier employees with a workplace celebration. We’ll be posting ideas and inspiration in the coming days.
Want to build a culture of workplace happiness every day of the year?
Download your FREE 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Recognition Calendar, your guide to building a successful workplace culture of positivity and gratitude.

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author

gThankYou’s 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free.
Here’s to a happier employees and a happier workplace in 2017!
Guide to Building an Everyday Culture of Appreciation!

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