These two retail employers are capturing and retaining talent in 2017

With employee turnover rates on the rise across the board over the last year, companies are forced to step up the long game to keep their talent base engaged.

This is especially critical to the retail industry, according to a Korn Ferry/Hay Group survey, which found retail turnover rates at an all-time high in 2016. Retail distribution centers saw an overall turnover rate of 23 percent, with hourly store employees at 65 percent and 18 percent for corporate positions. Respondents cited four main areas that could use improvement: career advancement, training opportunities, better communication and compensation.

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Retail leaders are already addressing these areas with targeted programs, comprehensive benefits, unique perks and enticing incentives.

Extracting from this year’s Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list, here are two retail companies deploying systematic approaches to retaining talent across their ranks. (It’s worth noting that both companies have also earned spots on the People Companies That Care 2017 and Best Workplaces for Women 2016 lists.)


This outdoor recreation consumer co-op boasts a full-time voluntary turnover rate of 10 percent. With a top-10 spot on the 2016 Best Workplaces in Retail and 20 years on Fortune’s 2017 Best Companies to Work For, REI has a longstanding history of valuing its employees, and its method in doing so stays true to the company’s environmental mission.

Some of REI’s most unique perks apply to that scope, including two paid days off every six months to spend time outdoors (called REI Yay Days), discounts of 10 to 30 percent on gear and apparel, 50 percent off most REI Adventures trips and discounts on classes, events and outings.

REI grants paid sabbaticals to employees who’ve remained in the company for 15 years. The team at REI’s headquarters can participate in “hack days,” pitching innovative ideas to improve the company’s offerings.

Other benefits include retirement and profit sharing, 401(k), health coverage for full-time employees and part-time workers with 20 or more hours per week, some health coverage for dependents, and college tuition reimbursement.

REI also offers work-life and extra financial benefits such as $100-$2,000 bonuses for job candidate referrals and a REI Educational Achievement Challenge (REACH) to help fund higher education degrees, a Challenge Grant Program to fund projects and activities outside of work, and subsidies on public transit expenses to reduce their carbon footprint.

REI is maintaining a mission-driven approach to employee retention — something other retailers would do well to replicate.


First on the 2016 Best Workplaces in Retail, and second (behind Google) on Fortune’s 2017 Best Companies to Work For, the 100-year-old grocery chain records a full-time voluntary turnover rate of five percent.

Company-specific perks at Wegmans include free cakes on birthdays, hot chocolate for all employees who work outside in the winter, discounts on mobile phone services, and tickets to movies and amusement parks.

Its various employee wellness programs offer screenings and coaching from pharmacists, registered dietitian-administered healthy eating tips, "get moving" activities, customized yoga programs and employee fitness discounts. To ensure company-wide communication best practices, Wegmans extends to employees Open Door Days, Huddles, Focus Groups, and a Q&A blog with the company’s senior vice president of operations.

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Wegmans also offers flexibility and financial assistance to employees pursuing a degree in any field of their choosing. Its scholarship program awards $1,500 per year for four years to part-time employees and up to $2,200 per year for four years for full-time employees.

Wegmans' mix of benefits, perks and transparency for all employees (full- and part-time) creates a healthy environment where everyone feels valued, heard and appreciated.

What are you doing to make employment at your store competitive and worthwhile? How are you encouraging your staff to grow within your business? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.

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