NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Wegmans Food Markets employees have reason to smile, as the grocery chain topped Fortune magazine's eighth annual list of "100 Best Companies to Work For."
The list rates companies based on the policies and culture of each company, as well as the opinions of each company's employees. (See the full list at Fortune.com.)
Also ranking highly were J.M. Smucker, Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird, and W.L. Gore, the privately held maker of Gore-Tex fabric.
Judging by Wegmans' 2004 sales, treating employees well has been good for business. The privately held grocery chain posted 2004 sales of $3.4 billion, despite the company's unusual motto, "employees first, customers second."
W.L. Gore, No. 2, also thinks outside the box when it comes to managing employees, asking workers to evaluate fellow team members to determine annual compensation.
Highly ranked companies also often took efforts to have employees share in company gains. For example, Genentech, No. 4, launched three new drugs from June 2003 to February 2004, and celebrated by throwing a lavish party for all employees and their guests -- with Elton John as the entertainment.
See the companies offering the best benefits.
For this year's feature, Fortune included a "Hall of Fame," with the 22 companies that have appeared on every list since 1998.
|Extensive coverage at Fortune.com
Those companies include A.G. Edwards (Research), American Cast Iron Pipe, Cisco Systems (Research), FedEx (Research), First Horizon National (Research), Four Seasons Hotels (Research), Goldman Sachs (Research), J.M. Smucker and Marriott International (Research).
MBNA (Research), Microsoft (Research), Nordstrom (Research), Publix Super Markets, Recreational Equipment (REI), SAS Institute, Synovus (Research), TDIndustries, Timberland (Research), Valassis (Research), W.L. Gore, Wegmans Food Markets and Whole Foods Market (Research) are round out the list.
"The 100 Best Companies to Work For" list is compiled for Fortune by the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco.