Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Wawa

Drive through the Mid-Atlantic long enough, and you'll eventually have to stop for something: Gas, a public restroom, perhaps an oversized hoagie, or a coffee drink. When you're looking for a rest stop, you might just encounter a bright yellow goose blaring a four-letter word that's actually acceptable to say in polite company. Wawa is both a gas station and a convenience store that locals have flocked to since opening in 1964 (as per Wawa). 

Wawa has been a family-run business since the very beginning (via Inc.). The Pennsylvania-based company is also dedicated to the people who've made the chain a billion-dollar entity. There are around 40,000 employees who currently work across the company's 950 locations, and that headcount will likely keep growing the more the chain spreads its wings further from the East Coast (per Chain Store Age). 

Part of the reason this quick-stop icon lands among America's top workplaces is what employees get out of working there (via Forbes). True, it's a retail job, which is notoriously burdensome between the mundane tasks and the grueling hours. But compared to similar convenience store franchises like Sheetz and Buc-ee's, Wawa offers its workforce a lot more than a competitive wage to maintain loyalty. 

The company provides solid benefits

It's no mystery why job-seekers go gaga over Wawa: The benefits are really, really good. You'll see on the company's website that employees receive a lot of the bonuses rarely found in a retail setting. This includes the basics like health insurance and dental/vision, disability, retirement, and a generous paid time off (PTO) policy that increases the longer you work there. Outside the compensation package, workers on Reddit revealed that there are also freebies you can take advantage of on the job, ranging from small things such as complimentary coffee and soda to reduced gym memberships, referral programs offering bonuses, and auto insurance. 

Job security is a must at any company, and Wawa's workers have not hesitated to talk about their positive experiences. Reviews on Indeed find that most former and current associates are pleased with the perks and that they reflect the chain's generosity in other matters of support. The company reportedly goes above and beyond to ensure its workforce was well-taken care of. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, for example, Wawa offered higher pay and additional PTO and supplies (via Indeed). 

You can make good money working at Wawa

Wages remain low in the service industry, with Zip Recruiter reporting that workers average an hourly rate of $12.63 as of December 2022. 'Paltry' doesn't even begin to cut it. By contrast, you'll notice right off the bat that Wawa pays its employees quite generously. Entry-level hires begin at $15 per hour, and they can collect more as they gain experience and seniority (via Indeed). 

Unsurprisingly, management roles will net some of the highest salaries within the company. Indeed shows general managers earning $70,000 per year, but a commenter on Reddit alleges that if you play your cards right, you could be pulling in a six-figure income.

Retail work is typically compensated twice a month, a practice that's more or less universal in America, according to a 2022 chart by the U.S. Department of Labor. But not at Wawa. Instead, employees get their paychecks every single week. As one Wawa employee emphasized on the chain's subreddit, weekly pay is a huge plus point. Stores looking to compete with Wawa should take note. 

Regardless of the position, there's no doubt Wawa's labor force makes more money compared to other convenience stores paying minimum wage, and employees are happier for it. In a poll covering 11,000+ employees, over half expressed satisfaction with their income (per Indeed).

Wawa helps its workers go to school

Holding down a long-term job makes pursuing other interests like attending college pretty daunting, to say the least. That's why Wawa helps its labor pool go to school. Employees seeking out a degree can partake in the Education Assistance Program to receive tuition coverage and other reductions when they register with qualifying universities. Although the amount differs by the employee's rank in the company, Wawa guarantees all of its workers access to financial aid toward their academic goals.

Wawa's reimbursement program encompasses a single year of school, but stand-out employees have an opportunity to get more through the company's scholarship program. The Dick Wood College Scholarship Fund awards winning candidates over $7,000 in recurring payments for their schooling, which can be used towards a four-year undergraduate degree. 

It's extremely competitive (under 20 workers total were chosen), but that doesn't change the positive impact it had on the handful of recipients, who can study enriching subjects without the cloud of costly expenses hanging over their head. Madison Braswell, a winning employee who aspires to work in geology, says the scholarship would help her across all areas of her life, both in her career and family. 

Wawa employees can invest in stock

For those focusing on their financial future, Wawa is a great place to work. We're not only talking about the solid benefits and high pay here but the literal investments that employees can make in the company they work for. 

The Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, allows staff members to partake in stock shares that can result in larger earnings once they hit retirement. Inc. reports that Wawa initially launched the ESOP as a show of gratitude, but the fund has since become a permanent part of the chain's business, over 40 percent of which is now owned by associates. 

Anyone who works at Wawa is welcome to participate in the ESOP, but employees will be required to put in the time before getting a piece of the pie, namely, a year of employment and at least 1,000 hours on the clock, according to Wawa's website. Unlike standard 401ks that workers would contribute to, the profits from the ESOP are based on the stock market and the chain's overall performance, which has plenty of pros and cons due to its fickle nature. 

That hasn't stopped workers from rolling in the dough long term, however: Retired employee Cheryl Farley told Inc. that investing in the trust allowed her to travel comfortably. 

Working at Wawa tends to be draining

In one year alone, 800 million people step foot inside a Wawa (via Inc.). Is it any wonder then that employees are bone-tired? From the moment they clock in, workers have a lot on their plate to keep the store running. Whether it's stocking the shelves, pumping gas, and answering (or finding answers) to customer inquiries, the grind is bound to take a toll on even the toughest. A former employee warned that if you're planning to work in a densely populated area, you should be prepared to sweat (per Indeed). Guess you won't be needing that gym membership after all. 

No one would argue that cleaning the soda machines or ringing up the gazillionth shopper every minute of every day isn't exhausting. But a little-known fact about working at Wawa is that the exhaustion doubles when you climb the ranks. 

One Wawa employee found this out firsthand when they transferred into management, and a Reddit post describing their experience goes into pretty frank territory on the job's realities. They explain that once you're part of the management, you're responsible for everything that goes on in the store, which is a lot and can be quite tiring. 

Wawa employees foster inclusivity

Wawa hires people from all walks of life, and the diversity of its workforce is due in no small part to the inclusive environment that employees have played a vital role in creating. Under the Wawa Innovation Networks (WINs), employees are able to join coalitions that resonate with their lived experiences and forge connections with workers of similar backgrounds. These alliances not only center groups such as women, veterans, and the LGBTQIA community, but they're essentially governed by the associates themselves. Whoever you are, there's a place for you at Wawa. 

Employing a variety of people might mean that there are differences in skill sets that can determine the type of role they play at the store. This is where job coaching comes in. CNBC reports that workers needing special accommodations can receive training to help them thrive. And while the article focuses on neurodivergent individuals in particular, the tailored training can apply to anybody who requires additional assistance. Empowering people with the tools to succeed is a winning strategy for keeping workers fulfilled and valued.

A former customer service associate who gave Wawa a five-star rating on Indeed said the location they worked at was highly accepting" towards LGBTQIA staff, with legitimate efforts taken to foster a welcoming environment, and that they felt safe working there (as per Indeed). 

It's not hard to get a job at Wawa

Assuming you meet the age requirement (16 years) and can get to work on time, getting hired at Wawa is a piece of cake. You'll find that the people at the company aren't exactly sticklers on candidates having a beefy resume and multiple degrees, although, as its job postings make clear, having prior retail experience won't hurt your chances (per Indeed). A warm personality and ability to please goes pretty far in most customer service positions, Wawa included. 

On Wawa's career page, you'll be able to apply directly on the website; new openings show up on a regular basis. If the company's interested, they'll call you in for an interview and, assuming it goes well, it'll be followed by a job offer. One former employee revealed on Reddit that they were hired at 17 with no work experience. 

Individuals who've interviewed with the company say that the process is focused less on your service experience (or lack thereof) than whether or not potential hires exhibit the traits that CEO Christopher T. Gheysens defines as having "goose blood" (per Philadelphia Inquirer). 

This funny term translates to the six non-negotiable concepts that drive the company. According to Wawa's website, that's to value people, delight customers, embrace change, do the right things, do things right, and above all, have a passion for winning. As long as you can live up to these, a career at Wawa can be in your future. 

The touch screens can be kind of a nuisance

Those famous touch screens were about 20 years ahead of the curve (via Wawa). They are technological marvels that should make employees' jobs easier, at least in theory. But one thing Wawa employees will be the first to confess is that they're kind of a nuisance. Shoppers frequently have employees plug in their orders rather than complete the transactions on their own. 

One employee admits that customers regularly ask for assistance with the touch screens (as per Philadelphia Magazine). Some of the complaints that surround the touch screens are valid, such as the lack of flexibility when it comes to making special requests. In the case of one Reddit commenter, trying to get a whole sandwich toasted won't always translate into the options available on the screen. 

But operating the screen in and of itself isn't super complicated, as they're engineered to be as user-friendly as possible. It's one of the few areas of the store where an employee isn't necessary, yet customers always end up asking for assistance and asking Wawa employees for assistance. 

The employee discount comes with a catch

Wearing the Wawa uniform entitles you to some fantastic incentives (per Courier Post). The employee discount is one of them, and for the most part, you can't complain. Much of the grab-and-go menu qualifies for at least 30 percent off the retail price. This includes deli subs and paninis, with healthier options discounted by 50 percent, according to Philadelphia Magazine. But there's a catch: Employees can't use the discount off the clock, nor can they use it on everything sold in the store. 

What you might not have realized about Wawa is that there are policies in place regarding the employee discount. A longtime employee explained on Reddit that essentially, the discount can only be enjoyed on a worker's shift and only at moments when they're intending to work. Additionally, the discount only applies to foods that are prepared by Wawa. A breakfast Sizzli or prep-packaged wrap would be eligible for the reduction, but a can of Pringles and Swedish Fish from the candy aisle would not. 

From Wawa's perspective, implementing some rules to worker perks is unsurprising, given they're intended to be used in good faith. However, should it matter when a worker uses the discount, so long as they're employed by Wawa and have the necessary information to prove it? It's been a source of contention for many employees, who say the policy is far too strict. 

Employees get access to exclusive merch

Did you think Wawa perks ended with free hoagies and soda refills? Employee appreciation is a big thing at the convenience store chain, and those who go the extra mile are privy to getting some cool stuff that's not accessible to the public. 

The Goose Bumps Program, Halo writes, rewards workers who excel at a particular task with scratch-off cards that can be redeemed for company-exclusive swag from the chain's in-house shop, the Goose Pride Store. There, you can score apparel, gadgets, gift cards, and other bonuses that won't be found on Wawa's regular website. It's also, unsurprisingly, where employees acquire their work uniform. 

As a Wawa employee explained, this incentive usually applies to situations where the standards for succeeding can be higher or demand a degree of hardship. In this case, following vital store protocols with legal stakes. At one store, an employee receives a goosebumps card if they pass a tobacco compliance check. And as far as picking out rewards goes, the sky is truly the limit. One worker used the points to furnish their child's room. 

Wawa workers regularly put up with difficult customers

Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. It's a simple philosophy that goes far in the retail world. Unfortunately, the friendly faces of your neighborhood Wawa are not immune to the energy-draining drudgery that is presented by difficult customers. Being open 24 hours a day means seeing the worst of people, and the spectrum of customer behavior is frankly all over the place. Bad attitudes, entitlement, and even drunken parking lot brawls are not beyond the scope of reach for an employed individual (per Philadelphia Magazine). 

Wawa employees compiled their grievances into a thread on Reddit, and the information reveals that shoppers can have a huge effect on worker morale. Things that annoy workers the most, without a doubt, is disrespect. One worker writes that while they are happy to assist customers, it's frustrating to deal with the more difficult ones. 

Another employee anonymously told Philadelphia Magazine that customers often have no sense of personal boundaries, such as expecting workers to toss out their own trash. One employee noted that customers often treat the workers as servants, but it's important to show kindness to employees. 

Having regular customers is extremely rewarding

As easy as it can be to focus on the negatives, workers have a lot to love about their job. Having regular customers you enjoy waiting on is one of them. For every grouch who storms through the door, there's a kind, friendly face not far behind who'll leave happier than before they walked in because of your service. Those interactions, though brief, are extremely gratifying and make everything worth it.

There's an impersonal quality in customer service that can make workers feel unseen. That might be the nature of a job like Wawa, but it doesn't make the role feel any less disposable when you're (supposedly) just another warm body fulfilling orders. But chatting with the retiree who you see order a Meatball Hoagie every day makes the experience much more special. One customer associate writes that serving regular customers can create a wonderful bond and that customers really enjoy it when you refer to them by name (as per Indeed). 

Being around nice people tends to make us feel good, and those feelings can carry into how you work for the rest of your shift. As a former associate put it on Indeed:  Customers like it at Wawa, and employees being happy makes their day even better.