Once again, the world’s biggest and richest retailer has failed to make it into the top “100 Best Companies to Work For.” The Fortune magazine annual list has left off Wal-Mart once again, for many reasons. But the company that says “our people make the difference,” apparently doesn’t have the support of its people to even make the top 100 best employers. The Wal-Mart paradox is this: Fortune magazine calls Wal-Mart the “most admired company” in the country, yet Wal-Mart can’t even break into the Best Employer list. Why? The answer is quite simple: the “Most Admired” list is based on a survey of Wall Street Executives, who don’t work inside the company. So from the outside, Wal-Mart’s muscles and wallet impress the people on Wall Street. But the Best Employer list is developed by Fortune based on the magazine’s own evaluation of a company’s policies and culture, and “the opinions of the company’s own employees.” That explains a lot. Fortune gives employee comments more weight-two-thirds of the total score comes from a 57 question survey of employees. Fortune also admits that “if news about a company comes to light that may significantly damage employee’s faith in management, we may exclude the company from the list.” So that little thing about a big class action sexual discrimination lawsuit could have been the undoing of Wal-Mart as a model employer. And the breaking lawsuits this past week in Massachusetts and California, charging Wal-Mart with stealing time from its own workers, had to ruin the party at Fortune. If any magazine was prepared to gush about Wal-Mart, it’s Fortune magazine. But even Fortune could not find a way to place Wal-Mart on a Best Employer’s list. Nevermind that a grocery store chain was listed number 1 (Wegman’s) or that retailers as varied as Starbucks, IKEA, Stew Leonard’s, Whole Foods Market, Timberland, Men’s Wearhouse, and Publix all made the list. Wal-Mart is buried again this year in obscurity, a victim of its own treatment of its “associates.”
A good employer would be expected to have low employee turnover. The retailers listed in the Fortune 100 Best Employer’s list did have low turnover. Publix, for example, had only 11% turnover. Wegman’s the grocer only 6%, Starbucks 13%, IKEA the furniture maker, 22%. By contrast, Wal-Mart, which didn’t make the list, has a 45% turnover figure, which means that every other year, nearly everybody has gone. Maybe that’s why Wal-Mart never makes the Best Employer list: out of the 1.2 million U.S. workers, Wal-Mart workers just don’t stay long enough to fill out the 57 question survey. Don’t look for this story on Wal-Mart’s new “real facts” website. The fact that Wal-Mart did not make the Best Employer list again, is just one fact Wal-Mart may never talk about when “telling our story.” Wal-Mart is spending millions of dollars to speak up for its employees, but apparently its employees are once more unwilling to speak up for their employer.