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The Publix approach to labor problems

publix labor

In addition to a reinvigorated competitive landscape, Publix Super Markets, Inc. BB #:110909 Lakeland, FL, like all retailers, faces challenges due to the tight labor market.

“How do you run a store with 20 to 30 percent fewer employees in the future?” asks Santa Monica, CA-based Phil Lempert, also known as the Supermarket Guru, adding, “It might be even more problematic for Publix than we see on a national basis.”

This is due to the older workforce in Publix’s primary territory. Workers in Florida in 2018 had a median age of 43.8, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 41.9 nationwide, making it the state with the fifth-oldest median age.

Publix also outpaces the national average in workers who are 65-plus, with 7.65 percent of Florida workers overall meeting that standard in 2018, versus 6.19 percent for the nation as a whole.

Yet Publix’s longtime reputation as a great place to work should help it face this challenge.

“The company consistently receives high employee satisfaction ratings, and that’s no small advantage given the ongoing labor shortages hamstringing its competitors,” says Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail in Bentonville, AR.

Although Publix’s reputation is generally very positive, there has been negative press in recent months related to politics, involving the daughter of the chain’s founder and former leaders.

Most has had little impact, especially given the company’s financial results and lengthening list of awards.

Lempert isn’t concerned and pinpoints the reason for the chain’s ongoing success: “It’s just a great store.”

This is an excerpt from the Florida Supplement in the September/October 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole supplement.