MIT professor ranks the best grocery stores for workers and customers

Whole Foods ranked highly in the Good Jobs Score ranking system.
Whole Foods ranked highly in the Good Jobs Score ranking system. –Spencer Platt / Getty Images

You may enjoy the food and the prices at your local grocery store, but ever wonder how its employees are treated? It’s not the kind of thing you will necessarily find in a company’s annual report.

Zeynep Ton, a professor of operations management at MIT, and her students have developed an index that they hope will empower shoppers to “vote with their wallet.’’

The Good Jobs Score, first rolled out for public U.S. food retailers, is a number from 0 to 10 that measures a company’s performance relative to its competitors.

According to the methodology:

“We collect and aggregate data on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and productivity to create the Good Jobs Score, which is a relative score within an industry. As we note below, the data we use are limited. But they are the best publicly available data we could find.’’

This year’s ranking has 14 food retailers on the list, with Costco and Whole Foods at the top, and Walmart and Weis Markets falling to the bottom.

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See the Good Jobs Score for 2015 public U.S. food retailers:

(If familiar names are missing, it’s probably because they are not publicly traded or are considered to be a slightly different type of establishment according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s system.)

Ton told the Wall Street Journal that she hopes “the score will bring attention to some of the drivers of success that are rarely included in annual reports,’’ but also noted that she realizes the scores are “are limited and have drawbacks.’’

Spokespeople from Walmart and Weis Markets had some conflicting views about how the methodology was completed, according to the WSJ.

“We measure much more precisely than the methodology used in Professor Ton’s research and our findings do not mirror that which is provided in this report,’’ a spokesman from Weis Markets told the WSJ. And Walmart said they are seeing improvements in how they run their stores.

Some of the places that Ton and her students received data were self-selecting surveys and not random samplings.

What’s the point of consumers knowing this information? The Good Jobs Score website says it can help investors know if a company is sustainable or can help a consumer “vote with their wallet’’ to know they are giving their money to a company that has happy employees.

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