What Costco And Wegmans Have In Common With Google

03/30/2015 11:49 am ET | Updated Apr 01, 2015

What could Google possibly have in common with Wegmans and Costco?

The tech giant is working on big-idea projects like self-driving cars and “smart” contact lenses, along with its core search business. The other two are focused on, essentially, selling groceries.

Still, in one critical respect the three companies are getting one thing right: They offer workers “good jobs” -- not low-paying dead-end work where employers feel like cogs in the machine.

The three companies give their employees a certain amount of freedom and a feeling of ownership over their work, Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of human resources tells the Wall Street Journal. That makes workers “act like owners,” Bock says.

All three companies frequently wind up atop lists of the best companies to work for -- or companies everyone wants to work for -- thanks to competitive pay and solid benefits and perks. All three offer some level of flexibility and, especially, training that sends a message to workers that they’re valued.

Crucially, employees don’t feel stuck in their jobs. Wegmans and Costco both promote from within -- and devote real resources to training workers to move them up the ranks. Turnover is low.

Seventy percent of warehouse managers at Costco started at the lowest rungs of the company, according to BusinessWeek. At Wegmans, 66 percent of promotions are internal.

The stores also offer rational scheduling. Workers are happier when they can plan their schedules far out in advance and swap shifts with colleagues. This isn’t common in retail, where often workers don’t know when they’re working from week to week.

Google's perks are legendary. The company offers workers sabbaticals, mindfulness training and many other coveted benefits designed to keep employees motivated and happy.

All this pay and respect and freedom may cost the companies more at the outset. But research has shown that creating “good jobs” that offer more than simply zombie-like dead-end work is actually a win for employers.

“Higher investment in people leads companies to do really well,” M.I.T. professor Zeynep Ton told The Huffington Post in February. Ton’s research has shown that employers that offer “good jobs” -- work that’s engaging and offers opportunities for workers to think -- are more profitable.

It’s a win-win.

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