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TULSA, Okla. -- Companies across the country have struggled with rising costs and shrinking bottom lines as the economy has ebbed and flowed over the past few years. And those struggles could continue if efforts to increase the minimum wage in some states -- notably New York -- are successful.
Cutting costs and reducing employees' hours may be a fast and easy way to manage expenses. However, a recent ABC News report found that customer satisfaction suffers when companies cut employees, hours and wages to lower costs.
According to the report, customers in Walmart grocery aisles walked away frustrated because they could not find the products they wanted on the shelves. Why were the products missing? Reduced staffing left few employees to restock properly.
"Understaffing and the resulting operational problems are not unique to Walmart," Zeynep Ton, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, told the news outlet. "That's what you see at companies that view labor just as a cost to be minimized."
But some companies are getting it right, according to Ton. In a previous article she wrote for the Harvard Business Review, "Why 'Good Jobs' Are Good for Retailers," Ton pointed to several companies -- including convenience retailer QuikTrip Corp., that benefit from rewarding employees.
Other companies highlighted by Ton were Costco, Trader Joe's and Mercadona, a Spanish supermarket chain. These companies, she said, offer employees high pay, flexible hours, a high measure of autonomy and good chances for advancement.
Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip, which has more than 650 convenience stores in 11 states, often appears on the "100 Best Companies to Work For" list published by Fortune magazine. In the 16 years the list has been published, QuikTrip has landed a spot 11 times, as CSNews Online previously reported.
The company also stands out for having 12,625 employees and a low 22-percent turnover rate.
The c-store operator, according to Ton, benefits from cross-training workers who do more than one job. When customer traffic is high, employees focus on serving customers. When foot traffic eases up, they shift to other responsibilities -- like brewing coffee, re-ordering merchandise, stocking freezers and sweeping floors.
Part-time employees at QuikTrip receive 40 hours of training; full-time employees receive two weeks. That compares to an average of seven hours of training per employee for the retail industry in general, according to Ton.
Employees have taken notice. On Glassdoor.com -- a website that allows employees to rank and review their company -- QuikTrip received 3.8 out of 5 stars.