As many of you know, Wegman's Markets - a privately Rochester, NY based supermarket - has been ranked in the top 10 of Fortune's best places to work this year. The company attracts and retains employees through a number of unique initiatives. Perhaps most impressively, their extensive employee education program helps to attract and retain people. This program began in 1984. Since that time, Wegmans has offered $77 million worth of scholarships to more than 24,000 employees. These scholarships attract talented, hard-working staff members, beginning with teenagers who work part-time and are interested in earning tuition assistance for college. The group of young people most interested in this form of compensation, of course, are precisely the type that you would like to have on your staff. That's what makes this program so great - it creates a powerful self-selection process with regard to applicants.
Since supermarkets by nature have many part-timers, including many young people, this program does a particularly good job of finding and retaining talented high school and college-aged employees. Some go off to college and return afterward, though the company scholarships do not dictate that they return. Does it work? According to some statistics that I have seen, Wegmans has substantially lower turnover than the usual grocery chain. Moreover, they have a substantial group of employees who have lengthy tenures at the firm.