Three Steps to Creating a Stay-Worthy Culture


ATLANTA — Creating a stay-worthy company culture doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it may take convenience store retailers years before they find the right formula for success in attracting and retaining employees.

During the “Creating a Stay-Worthy Culture” educational session at the 2016 NACS Show, taking place this week in Atlanta, Bob Graczyk, vice president of human resources for QuickChek Corp., Kurt Weigel, recruiting manager at Weigel’s Stores, and Nicole Upshaw, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.’s executive director of human resources, shared three key ways c-store retailers can create a stay-worthy culture. 

1. Create core values

“We always had a culture at QuickChek … [and] it started from the top down,” Graczyk explained. “When we talk about culture, we talk about behaviors and holding each other accountable. There is no end date to beginning or ending culture. It is [constant work] to change culture.”

Weigel and Upshaw echoed a similar sentiment stemming from one central idea: accountability. “Our core values state that we treat people right and treat people the right way [by] putting people first,” Upshaw explained. “It’s a line of evolution.”

2. Embrace generational differences

When it comes to creating core values and the debate of generational differences, all three executives implored c-store retailers to look past these shifts and instead embrace them.

“It’s good to have a mix of everything, to hear how different generations grow up and [explore] how they can contribute to your business,” Weigel said.

Upshaw added that RaceTrac has completely forgotten the stigma around millennials and seized the opportunity to have Generation Z work in their stores, while Generation Y dominates leadership.

“Enough of comparing generations,” Upshaw commented. “By listening to what each generation has to say makes them dynamic, and that’s an advantage for us.”

3. Keep the higher-ups engaged

Another way to create a stay-worthy culture is by keeping corporate executives engaged. Among RaceTrac’s initiatives to achieve this, the company holds management resource groups, which are open forums where employees can candidly discuss any problems they may be having.

“Chasing engagement can be a scary thing, but it’s important to teach people to listen and respond,” Upshaw told the audience.

Similar to RaceTrac, QuickChek’s owner and senior vice president give employees the opportunity to openly discuss any challenges they are facing as many as four times a year at “town meetings,” Graczyk shared.

At Weigel’s, executives spend four weeks working at a store to learn and understand the company’s core values, including servant leadership. “Our philosophy is to do everything we can do to support the store,” explained Weigel. “It gives us the opportunity to walk a mile in [our employees’] shoes.”

The panel of speakers left the audience with these quick, final thoughts on what they can do to get their employees to stay: 

  • Weigel: “Create a work-life balance.”
  • Upshaw: “It’s not always about the money, and people want life to flow harmoniously.”
  • Graczyk: “Get technology right.”

The 2016 NACS Show, hosted by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, continues at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center through Oct. 21.

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