No layoffs – ever! These employers survived a struggling economy while staying loyal to their workers. Meet 14 of this year’s Best Companies that, as of January, have never had a layoff.

Best Companies rank: 4

Wegmans Food Markets

When Wegmans Food Markets has to eliminate a position, they make sure they find the displaced employee another job that they will be passionate about within the company. When their Britton Rd. store in Rochester, N.Y. closed last summer, they offered all of the store’s employees a job at another location in the same city.

Within two weeks, all 250 employees from the Britton Rd. store knew exactly what they were going to be doing. “When it comes down to it, we are in the people business, but we just happen to sell groceries,” says Kevin Stickles, vice president of store operations and human resources.

Best Companies rank: 22

The Container Store

This retail chain did everything it could to cut costs, including using less expensive toilet paper throughout the company, to ensure that they didn’t have to lay off a single employee. “If you put your employees first, they will truly take the best care of their customer,” says Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container store.

Tindell talked to every one of his employees in the country during the company’s monthly conference call to let them know that they would not be laid off. “When you don’t have a tremendously nervous employee, they will perform better,” says Tindell.

When assessing the company’s budget, the executive team realized they didn’t need two people working in employee travel services, so they moved one of those staffers back to a store position (that employee has stuck with the store, but they’ve since added staff to the travel department). “Even though our sales have bumped back, a lot of the expenses we were able to reduce have stayed off [the balance sheet],” says Tindel.

Best Companies rank: 34

Nugget Market

In 85 years of business, this family-owned grocery store chain has never had a layoff. By slowing down its hiring, the company been able to increase hours for current part-time associates who want to work more hours to compensate for an employee who leaves a position, and younger workers who leave for college often come back to work during the holiday season and summer breaks.

Nugget Market says they actively promote from within, and when they do hire from the outside, it is typically to fill an entry-level position.

Best Companies rank: 39

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital

This not-for-profit hospital hardly ever slows down because, struggling economy or no, there are always patients to see. St. Jude has made it a point to steer clear of layoffs, says Mary Anna Quinn, senior vice president of human resources. “We don’t want to create fear among our employees. If they stick with us, we will stick with them.”

Rather than resorting to layoffs, St. Jude slowed down its hiring and cut back on other expenses as economic conditions deteriorated over the past few years. “We asked our employees to cut back on things like magazines subscriptions because the little things like that add up,” says Quinn. St. Jude patients do not have to pay for their care, and the hospital also pays for patient housing, food, and transportation.

Best Companies rank: 42

Baptist Health South Florida

Baptist Health continues to grow every year. They opened the West Kendall Baptist Hospital last year and they have opened, on average, three to four new outpatient facilities each year over the last few years. If a position has to be eliminated, employees can move to a different department or location at the company.

 

Best Companies rank: 49

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

In the midst of recession, this leading pediatric hospital made sure that no one would be laid off by cutting elsewhere. Employees got involved and they figured out a way where they could make cuts, such as using non-fitted instead of fitted gloves for simple procedures. That move alone has saved the hospital $25,000.

“By getting our employees involved, we have saved $25 million in expenses,” says Linda Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Each department took charge, looking to see what they could cut.”

Best Companies rank: 54

Baker Donelson

“So far, it’s been easy,” says CEO Ben Adams regarding never having had to lay off an employee. “We have been able to keep our people and weather the storm.” To keep all employees, this law firm has had to cut back significantly on marketing, travel expenses, retreats, and operating costs with companies such as Xerox, and seminars.

Despite these setbacks, Baker Donelson recently opened up an office in Houston and Orlando and, as Adams sees it, “We will continue to grow.”

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