Company has changed for the worse: Faux progressivism
Trader Joe's…what a great place--to shop. When I started at Trader Joe's five years ago it actually was a pretty good place to work. The starting pay was average for the time, $10/hr. The benefits were good and what a great 401K plan. The hours were relatively flexible and it was incredibly laid-back and fun. Most everyone worked hard and it was a fun environment. The customers could sense this genuine good feeling, and everyone was happy. You could basically choose what kind of work you wanted to do depending on your interest (demo, cashier, stocking, helms, etc.) The raises were great too. The company really stuck to their core values of integrity and "kaizen" (constant improvement and betterment for customers and workers.)
However, this is no longer the case. Trader Joe's now merely pays lip service to these values as it has become more corporate and profit-focused. In 2013, the company eliminated health insurance for anyone working under 30 hours per week, and the year prior to that cut back on raises. The 401K disbursements, while arguably better than many other companies, also shrank by one-third. In the meantime, profits and sales were on the rise and Trader Joe's began to open more stores than ever. There are no shareholders, so all this money goes to fund the members of one of the wealthiest families in Europe. Meanwhile, the average crew member does not earn a living wage and hours are not consistent. These changes led to many of my great co-workers leaving the c
After spending three years as a full-time employee at Trader Joe's of Amherst, NY, I can tell you this of my experience:
-- The work is generally very physically-oriented. Be prepared to participate in the unloading process of the morning truck or the night truck. Make sure your organizational skills and attention to detail are up to par, as you will help to sort through multiple pallets of various products. Be constantly aware of any temperature sensitive products as well! Good sneakers are a must-have! Always tell a manager if you are feeling sore or need to work in a less physically demanding part of the store. Generally, they will try to help to make sure you aren't taking an unnecessary physical beating.
--- Be upfront about your intentions right away if you wish to grow with the company. Do not just tread water and treat Trader Joe's like it is any ordinary job. The salaries can be incredibly lucrative and (most of) the employees will treat you like family. The opportunities to show your stewardship of certain areas of the store will come often; seize the opportunities and grow your relationships with your fellow crew, mates and captain.
--- Keep your MIND on the GRIND. During the open store hours, look for the many ways you can help your customers feel at home. Your attentiveness and care for your customers will serve you well, and you do not want to become a "grunt" who simply throws stuff on the shelf and coexists within the store. The grunt attitude will stand
I've had some of best mentors there, and feel I got above the standard training in leadership overall. However, being because there is so much trust in each store's management, the area I worked in which was growing faster than some the companies past growth & perhaps for a lack of quality people "in the pond", Trader Joe's got the best of what they could, having worked other retailers, but I did feel a strong sense of favoritism at management level in a few stores. Not all Store Managers operated this way & some were fair, or just didn't have the tools to do better. Being smart about pairing up training & coaching groups to make everyone shine is what I was taught at one point, but it seemed my supervisors missed that lesson. Other teams (store Mates specifically) were very pitted against each other. I felt penalized for not hanging out with my crew members after hours (even though it was frowned upon (kept hush hush), was very much so a part of how managers I countered on opposite shifts garnered a commraderie among the team.) Sometimes I felt proud to be "held to a higher standard among my peers" because of my tenure & other managers made it feel like I couldn't succeed. I truly felt undermined & used in my last store working there. Being compared to peers who had more help or staff or stronger employees is often a rebuttal I had to make with managers who didn't take time to make that observation before chastising me. It wasn't always like that, but having had better st
ProsGreat job if you aren't above any task, Be open to challenge yourself, Flexible hours mostly vary 4-5am or pm- midnight
ConsStores can be run differently, Not a good fit for someone who likes 1 thing all day like just cashier or just stocking, For that reason is a Pro for me but it's not for everyone
I've worked for many different companies in a number of different roles over the past 20 years, and I can say with assurance and confidence that Trader Joe's is a one of a kind place to work.
First of all, the people are amazing to work with. I haven't met one person that wasn't pleasant to me upon meeting me, and everyone seems to enjoy their work. As far as retail goes, I don't think you could find a better place to be employed. The managers (or captains, mates & merchants as we call them) are kind, patient and professional. They give you constant feedback to help you improve and grow; they correct you when you've made a mistake in a constructive way, and are sure to give you kudos when you've done something well. The other crew members are super helpful and great too. Most have worked for TJ's a decent amount of time and love what they do.
I think the reason that the crew members and I love what we do is because it doesn't get too boring or stale; we are constantly moving, and what we do changes from day to day, even hour to hour. I've worked in retail jobs where all you do is help people bag their groceries, or only ring them up, or just stock the shelves. At TJ's I'm doing more than one thing every shift. I could be stocking the shelves at one moment, then checking a customer out, helping another crew member with bagging, demo-ing samples of our food, or walking around the store interacting with customers the next. It is nice to be able to have variet
Prosgreat culture, awesome co-workers, no micro-managing, nice benefits, variety in job responsibilities, opportunity for advancement
Conscan be very physical work (lots of lifting, standing for many hours at a time, etc.)
1. There are really only 3 main categories. The head of the store, the managers, the crew. There are more hierarchies within, but not really functionally. Everybody does everything. This actually is applicable, and there is no true snobbery, power plays, or separation. The main difference is the shirt one wears and the dedication in time, which is a lot. When one goes full-time, one is expected to work above 40 hours. When one is part-time, one can work 0-40 and that's it.
2. People there actually do enjoy working there. It's a very relaxed environment in most stores.
3. Dependable company, very generous management most of the time. Very fair. Small business mentality. Head office is very, very small, so it goes both ways. Very friendly, very dependable, can be a little incompetent in business matters when it comes to connecting to things like the 401k company, disability, etc, but overall very excellent and trustworthy.
4. My typical day was set up by a shift calendar, just like everyone's. I wrote an order for almost the entire time I worked there, which was ten years. Something like: One hour cash registers, one hour doing write-offs and stocking section, one hour writing order, break, one hour cash register, one hour cash register, 2 hours demo (food demonstration), one hour closing. I'm very small and have an invisible progressive illness, so towards the end of my tenure, they allowed less taxing things like this. In the beginning, I would h
Working at TJs definitely has its benefits. The 401K, raises, and health insurance is awesome. Sometimes you get really lucky with mates and sometimes you dont. If youre stuck working night shifts and the mate who makes the schedules doesnt composite or rotate days for other crew members then youre life is literally trader joes 24/7. You go to work at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, then get off at 9 or 10 at night and stay up late cus you worked so late, go to bed, wake up later in the morning, go to work and repeat. Again, this isnt every location.
An average day working is register, then working up some product the next hour, then register again, and repeat. If youre really unlucky, youĺl get register for two (maybe even three if you have some call outs) straight. If youre a real social butterfly and can put up with the stuck up soccer moms then sure reg is great! If youre like me then working product is your ideal place to do and reg kind of makes you want to scream. And im not just being dramatic. lol
One thing that i think was an awful idea the company came up with is no belts at the register and you having to bend down and grab everything out the basket, scan it and bag the item. The amount of pain your shoulders and back is in by the end of the day will put you in a bad mood (on top of the heavy lifting you will do on your product hour)
Trader joes as a company is GREAT company. you get .60 cent raises twice a year based on your performance, a 401k that the company pu
Amazing company to work for. They don't just say they care for their employees, they consistently show it. They are quick, efficient, and progressive with their policies. There's no question to why they are a Top 100 company to work for. Their benefits and pay are amazing, especially for a retail/grocery store. Their products are basically white-washed versions of other culture's food, but the quality isn't all that bad and its probably closer to authentic than any other grocery store. Especially for the price.
Unlike most businesses, you aren't in a specialized position all day. Everyone's job responsibilities rotate every hour and everyone does time on the register. It makes work a lot less existential and keeps you fresh and away from turn-over. You are also given freedom to help your customers. You're encouraged to treat them like family and open up items for them or give them flowers for free. It creates an amazing relationship between you and your customers and makes the job that much easier.
Management is there for you. They are there to support you and set you up for success. They are flexible and understanding and are more like your coworkers than they are your boss. Sometimes they are a bit too lax though, and this brings me to the only flaw about Trader Joe's:
Your experience there will depend on your store. The company is so progressive that sometimes its easy for unproductive coworkers to take advantage of it. The lax management will always avoid holding peopl
The thing about Trader Joe's is their customer philosophies ("wow" moments and the "kaizen" phenomenon) are all west-coast philosophies, and they're sort of predicated on the clientele being open to the approach of a relative stranger. My experience working for this particular store was a strange mix of fun and soul-crushing, with some shining moments here and there, where I actually got to help people in a satisfying way.
Just remember: it's a grocery store. This was the mantra that got me through my time there. No matter how much it pretends to be an amusement park, it's a Grocery. Store. No more, no less.
Somehow, through it all, it can be a great place to work. There's great benefits, flexible scheduling, even free samples of the merchandise on the regular... until you have to deal with management.
The illustration for the hierarchy of management while I worked here was that of a boat with an upside-down sail: the crew members consisting of the widest portion (at the top) and the manager ("captain") at the bottom of the mast, the smallest portion.
The only thing about this model is: that's not how sails work.
I can think of no more fitting a metaphor for working at Trader Joe's than that. As long as there's no prevailing winds, and you're comfortable sitting in the doldrums with a boat that doesn't really go anywhere, you're safe.
But the minute the wind starts to blow, you're gonna capsize.
The culture is great, though. The crew members are all generally real
Fun cushy job with good benefits, limited feedback and advancement
Trader Joe's is fine for a day job; it's easy work with very little stress, though that does depend on your position and management. I'm friends with most of my coworkers and managers. If you lead a demanding section like Produce or Grocery, you can expect the managers to be tougher on you, sometimes even asking too much.
How much guidance you get often depends on how much you ask for it. Communication is largely one way, with you asking for feedback or help as needed. Performance reviews come every six months with a $.60 raise.
Advancement is limited to going into management, where you have a waterfall schedule (close two days, midshift, open two days) and can be transferred to any store in the region with little notice. But the pay and benefits are good, and Captains make a six figure salary.
Pay is standard considering it's entry level work. In CA, after a number of years I'm making $20/hr, but I can go to an In-n-Out Burger and get hired at $20 there. Benefits are good and the company takes really good care of you. They get directly involved in helping their crew through tragedies like losing family members, homes, major injuries etc. Higher-up kept the 20% discount (up from 10%) given during the pandemic because of how much the crew liked it. They seem to really care.
Hours are VERY flexible, depending on store needs. Some shifts start at 5am, others work until 11pm. My scheduling manager has been very accommodating for school and other life events. You accumulate p
ProsEasy job, fun and friendly, company takes care of you, benefits, flexibility
Trader Joe's is a store with a great atmosphere that allows employees to have fun while they work.
Everyday at work, we usually do the same things. Some days are busy and some are a little quieter, but we always manage to have some fun and get our work done. Working at this store really has tought me a lot about people in the world and how businesses work. I've seen how high in demand our products are and how important it is to serve the people. I have learned that hard work is very necessary and can feel very rewarding when you accomplish it. The managers at our store love to see us working hard and using our skills.
The management is very relaxed and helps us to see things in our job in a more positive light but also encourages us to work hard and perform our jobs as best as we can. I have learned that you will never like every single one of your co-workers, but it is always important to work as a team with everybody and not to bring any drama into your work place. Fortunately, I have been given some amazing co-workers who have really make this job a life changing experience. They make tough days at work not seem so bad.
The hardest part of my job is that sometimes, no matter how friendly or helpful you are, there will always be some people that you can never satisfy. The thing to always remember about this is that no matter what, as long as you put all you're effort in and do everything in your power, you should not be discouraged by someone being unappreciative. The most enjoyable part of my job is all the things I've learned and all the great people I'm surrounded
ProsWe are rewarded for our hard work with things like free meals and snacks, and we are encouraged to have fun.
ConsSometimes when there is extra work to do you become exhausted, since most of the work is physical labor.
Questions And Answers about Trader Joe's
If you were in charge, what would you do to make Trader Joe's a better place to work?
Asked Jan 25, 2018
Answered Jan 8, 2021
Change the pass or fail raise. Give your better crew members a chance to make more money. Otherwise your rewarding everybody the same. Let’s be real. It shouldn’t be like that.
Answered Nov 29, 2020
How are the working hours at Trader Joe's?
Asked Aug 8, 2016
The worst. Shifts start as early as 4AM or if you are participating in a remerchandising of the store you will have to do it on an overnight shift. If you want to advance within the company this is a requirement. Also though you may be scheduled only until 12am you are expected to stay if the work isn't complete. This happens often as crew often calls in sick and stored are understaffed to save money to begin with. It's not as fun as they make it out to be.
Answered Jan 22, 2020
Long and hard
Answered Jan 21, 2020
Do you have to pass a drug test to become a Mate at Trader Joe's?
Asked Jun 9, 2017
Haha of course not. That’s why we can manage to keep so many “weird” and awesome crew members. They want people to be themselves.
Answered Mar 23, 2020
No, otherwise more than half the crew they have wouldn't have passed.
Answered Jan 22, 2020
What tips or advice would you give to someone interviewing at Trader Joe's?
Asked Apr 28, 2017
you have to be willing to work, always under the general supervision of the "mate". There was no reason to go out side the established procedures. What is important is to do the task with the best of your ability, to work consistantly, to be at work when you are scheduled, certainly not 10 minutes late
Answered Jan 22, 2021
Hard works pays off
Answered Feb 26, 2020
What is the average tenure for employees at Trader Joe's?
Asked Oct 4, 2016
The Trader Joe’s store that I worked for had a My First Job program where they can only hire 3 high school students each school year. They hire teenagers as young as 16 years old. But their tasks are limited to the adults who work. It’s a great first job. My store had a 60 cent raise twice a year.
Answered Oct 22, 2019
The average is probably somewhere around 5 to 7. You will most definitely see some come and go. And occasionally you’ll see vets who’ve been at TJ for like 15 to 20 years. They’ve seen a lot lol