Whole Foods Vs. Trader Joe's: Which Has The Better Workplace For New Grads?

If we are condemned to work, it might as well be tolerable — if not downright enjoyable. Following such feelings, Forbes collaborated with market research company Statista on their annual project to identify which large-scale companies with 1,000 employees or more were best liked by "new workforce entrants" (aka mostly young people). This year, the reigning champion Trader Joe's was defeated by Whole Foods, swapping one massive grocery chain for another.

Still, to occupy the first two spots as the most popular companies amongst recent grads, they have to be doing something right; and, according to employee profiles, they are. In 2015, Business Insider interviewed Leah McFadden, a Whole Foods Specialty Team Leader, who opines that the worst part of her job is that other employees don't consider their work at Whole Foods a real career. McFadden states, "While I totally respect what they would like to do with their future, I selfishly want them for my team." While the rest of the profile follows a similarly positive, corporate-approved tone, employee reviews on Glassdoor actually appear to agree. The hiring website assigns Whole Foods an overall 3.6 stars out of 5, with most recent reviews giving the store 4 or 5 stars. Trader Joe's also in general receives a soft glove. In 2019, Refinery29 enthused about how well the company treats its employees. Under the "The Bad" section, employees aired complaints mostly related to customer behavior, grumbling about cleaning the bathroom, hearing the same jokes repeatedly while working the register, and picking up discarded demo cups and trash from shelves. In short, both companies ensure that their conditions don't actively discourage their workers from laboring. 

Working in the age of the coronavirus

As you have probably noticed, those rather glowing employee testimonies were given before the coronavirus pandemic struck, so it would be reasonable for opinions to change. Yet, the Forbes survey appears to have taken account of this, mentioning the fact that in April, a Trader Joe's staff member died due to Covid-19. However, things are not all roses with employees at the discount grocer. One Trader Joe's employee told Refinery29 in May of this year that — for the stress, danger, and resulting burnout of being deemed an essential worker during a pandemic — many felt they were not receiving commensurate compensation. Fears also arose in Whole Foods. In April, The Guardian shared that staff across the US were planning a strike on May 1st (aka May Day), as cases among workers at the Amazon-owned gourmet grocery store increased. For balance, however, it should be noted that by June, Grocery Dive reported Whole Foods as the grocery store with the best protections and awarded Trader Joe's high marks as well.

The bottom line? The Forbes survey states that Whole Foods won out this year due to their commitment to safe working conditions, pay, career development, volunteer programs, and environmentally friendly practices. Better luck next year TJ's.