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Having a Great Place to Work

About this time each year, Fortune Magazine publishes its list of Top 100 Best Companies to Work For. Many of our supermarket clients are on this list: Wegmans (NY), Whole Foods, Publix (Southeast), and Nugget Markets (Northern California).

A supermarket industry friend of mine, Kevin Coupe, who pens a daily blog wrote an insightful comment about this list:

I always try to keep lists like this one in perspective. The companies that made it are to be congratulated, but they also are the ones that invested time and energy in making the applications. Also…does the fact that Wegmans and The Container Store have dropped down the list from number one at various times really mean that they’ve lost a step? Not really…I think it actually means that Fortune needs to keep rotating the leaders so that there’s some suspense.

I think the real issue is that with unemployment at a historic low—the national number just dropped again this week—those employers who truly value their employees will be the ones who not only are able to hire good help, but they are also able to retain them. And having reviewed the paperwork and the process involved in applying for the “Best Places to Work For” moniker, it is easy to see that big companies put a lot of work into applying for these awards. Although I’m sure each of them is a wonderful place to work, it is clearly a retention strategy for them and something to brag about when recruiting.

But let’s talk about why people really do stay at a company and what they like most about those companies.

At my company, we had a new employee, Frank, who started earlier this week in our sales department. On Frank’s first day, there happened to be a sales department meeting, so, as we always do, we welcomed him to the department by going around the room and introducing themselves. In addition to their names and how long they’ve been at Frieda’s, everyone was asked to say what they liked most about working at Frieda’s.

Although I was not in the meeting that day, this is what I heard:

The question was why we love working at Frieda’s. Most of us said the people. Everyone is like family. It’s fun coming to work every day because you are seeing your friends every day. And work doesn’t feel like work because, well, we’re happy to be here.

It made me so proud and happy to hear this! And I can’t take all the credit for why most of our team is so happy—it’s actually because of them! But I can say that we have built a culture of freedom of expression, friendship and, well, family.

And fun.

Actually, one of the women from our Marketing Department gave herself a new title: Director of Fun. At first I heard that some employees were kind of skeptical, but I know Oakley very well, and she is loads of fun. She is quirky, creative, fearless, and can laugh at herself.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Director of Fun
Oakley, our Director of Fun, wears many hats–literally and figuratively.

Here are a few photos from some of our Director of Fun’s in-house happenings in the past few months.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Talk Like A Pirate Day - Department of Fun
Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrgh!
Frieda's Specialty Produce - Halloween 2014 - Department of Fun
Halloween potluck. That’s my sister Jackie the Mouse up in front.

And here’s our holiday “card,” 12 (business) days in the making!

So, you do not have to be named by Fortune Magazine for your company to be a great place to work. You just need to be sincere, empower your employees, and be willing to give up control and laugh at yourself every so often.

And it goes without saying that we are always looking for more great people who share our values and are passionate about produce. In case you know someone who wants to join our team…wink wink.

Have fun out there!


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