Retailers well represented on limited ‘Best Companies’ list

Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Men’s Wearhouse were among the 14 retailers included on the 2013 edition of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for.

Of the 100 companies on the list, regional grocer Wegman’s was ranked fifth behind top ranked Google, SAS, CHG Healthcare Services and Boston Consulting Group. The fact that Wegman’s is consistently included on the list and ranked so highly is noteworthy achievement. Especially considering the company is a regional supermarket operator with just 81 stores and it competes in a low margin segment of the industry where expense pressures tend to inhibit the generosity of benefits retailers are able to provide. Other retailers who made this year’s list and their ranking included; The Container Store (16), REI (17), Zappos (31), Nugget Market (37), Men’s Wearhouse (50), QuickTrip (66), Whole Foods (71), CarMax (74), Publix Supermarkets (77), Build a Bear Workshop (78), Nordstrom (88), Starbucks (94), and Aeropostale (97).

To be included on the list is a distinction companies tend to crow about and leverage as a recruitment tool, but the accomplishment is somewhat diminished by a methodology that results in a tiny universe of companies being eligible for inclusion. For example, companies must submit an application to be considered and in the case of this year’s list, only 259 did so, down from 280 last year. Not that the companies on the list aren’t wonderful places to work, but simply submitting an application gave an employer a nearly 39% chance of being included in the 2013 edition.

To pick the 100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune partners with the Great Place to Work Institute and contends the employee survey it conducts is the most extensive in corporate America. Companies have to be more than five years old and have at least 1,000 employees. More than 277,000 employees at the 259 firms who submitted applications responded to a survey created by the institute.

Two-thirds of a company's score is based on the results of the institute’s Trust Index survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company. The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about management’s credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie. The other third is based on responses to the institute’s Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts. After evaluations are completed, if news about a company comes to light that may significantly damage employees’ faith in management, it may be excluded from the list.