Aldi best supermarket to work for, Morrisons worst — say employees

Which supermarkets offer the best deal for workers, not just shoppers?

I’m James, one of the team at Breakroom. Over the last couple of months over 2,000 supermarket employees have taken our people powered job comparison and told us what it’s really like where they work.

In this post, we’ll share what we’ve learnt from them, and reveal where you should work to get the best deal.

2,000 supermarket employees recently compared their jobs on Breakroom

And what they’re saying about their jobs shows there are surprising differences between the big brands.

When workers compare their job, we ask them a range of questions about what really matters at work. Everything from ”are your breaks paid?”, to ”are you treated with respect by your managers?”, and many more besides.

We use the answers to these questions to give each company a score, creating what we call the Breakroom Rating. This is what we use to rank the quality of jobs at each supermarket company.

Aren’t all supermarket jobs the same?

Everyone thinks they know what it must be like to work at a supermarket.

We all use them on a daily basis, and hundreds of thousands of people work in them. Tesco alone employs over 300,000 people, making it the country’s biggest private employer.

But there are real differences between the major supermarkets, and not just in pay. We’ll unpack these below. But first, the results!

How did the supermarkets do?

Here’s our March 2020 list of the best supermarkets to work for, ranked from best to worst. The Breakroom Ratings are based on answers from 2,000 people currently working at these supermarkets:

Supermarket (March 2020 rank) Breakroom Rating (out of 5)
1) Aldi 3.7
2=) Sainsbury’s 3.3
2=) Waitrose & Partners 3.3
2=) Co-op Food 3.3
5=) Lidl 3.2
5=) Tesco 3.2
7=) Marks & Spencer 3.1
7=) Farmfoods 3.1
9) Asda 3.0
10) Iceland 2.8
11) Morrisons 2.7

The results might have changed since, so take a look at our Supermarkets page for the latest.

Aldi ranks top whilst Morrisons languishes at the bottom

Let’s start with the really obvious. The winners and the losers, Aldi and Morrisons

To start with, the biggest differences are revealed by how they each run shift schedules.

At Aldi, most people get 4 weeks notice of when they will be on shift. At Morrisons most people only get 2 weeks, or even less. This makes it much harder for people who work at Morrisons to plan holidays or to know how much they'll earn on pay day.

Aldi has more flexibility than Morrisons

Workers at Aldi have good choice over when they work, and can swap shifts with their colleagues when they need to.

At Morrisons the story is completely different.

Less than half of employees say their manager gives them enough choice over their shifts. And most say it’s hard to change shifts if they need to.

This makes things hard for them when something unexpected comes up, such as a family event or hospital appointment.

Aldi is better if you have kids

Lastly, the most striking difference is how easy it is for each company’s employees to fit work around kids or other caring duties.

75% of workers at Aldi who care for kids or other relatives say that it’s a good place to work. At Morrisons only 27% of employees with caring responsibilities say the same.

Read more about what we’ve learnt about Aldi and Morrisons.

How do the rest of the supermarkets differ?

The difference between the top and bottom of the list is clear, but the supermarkets in the middle are closely spaced.

It’s harder to tell who’s good at what.

We’ll dig a little deeper into the rest of the supermarkets to find out, but first let me explain what you can find out on Breakroom.

Every company has a page showing details of their pay, hours, benefits, and what workplaces are like.

For example, on the Aldi page, you can see that “people say this is a good place to work if you care for a child or other relative”. And it’s all based on information from company employees.

OK let’s get back to examining what we've discovered from supermarket workers. But if you’d prefer, skip this and find out how your job compares with supermarket jobs by taking our survey now.

Not everyone has good managers

  • If you want managers that treat you with respect and don’t change your shifts at short notice, then Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Co-op Food are best for you.

  • Most Co-op Food employees (78%) say they’re treated with respect by their managers. This puts them above both Tesco (64%) and Sainsbury’s (58%).

  • Lidl is a mixed bag. Most employees feel they’re treated with respect. But over half say their manager changes their shift schedule at the last minute.

  • Less than half of Asda employees say their managers treat them with respect. Which is the lowest of all the supermarkets. But on the upside, most Asda managers don’t change people’s shifts at short notice.

Most people are getting enough hours

One big positive across all the supermarkets is that few people are worried about getting enough hours each week. Not all hourly paid work is as secure.

Premium supermarkets aren’t so premium for their employees

It’s fair to say that most of us would assume that premium brands treat their employees better, but our survey reveals that’s not always true.

  • At Marks and Spencer over a third of their workforce get one week or less notice of when their shifts will be. It’s the same story at Tesco.

  • Just under half of Waitrose workers (48%) say that their manager gives them enough choice over shifts. Only Morrisons is as bad as Waitrose for this.

  • Waitrose is also the hardest place to swap shifts when needed. Less than a third of their employees said that it’s easy to do. Things are almost as bad at Iceland and Morrisons. All other supermarkets in our list make it easier for workers to have control over their shift schedule.

What supermarket workers say about their jobs — in their own words

Here are a few examples of what people are saying in their job comparison: 

👍 Best thing about their job

Spending time outside

Most customers are pleasant

👎 Worst thing about their job

Short time schedules with no room for delays, poor planning and job could be made smoother with better scheduling.

— Customer delivery driver, with 3+ years experience at Waitrose. See more

👍 Best thing about their job

The pay and flexibility.

👎 Worst thing about their job

Progression, pulling the weight of other staff, booking of all holidays has to be done before the new year.

— Store assistant, with 3+ years experience at Aldi. See more

👍 Best thing about their job

Serving some lovely customers!

👎 Worst thing about their job

Hours can be apawling sometimes which can be very sole destroying and makes my mental health bad!!!

— Check out assistant and cleaning operative, with 1–2 years experience at Iceland. See more

Unfortunately, we’ve heard from employees at all the supermarkets that they feel like head office and upper management doesn’t understand their needs.

This comes up again and again when people tell us what’s worst about their job. There seems to be a lot of room for companies to improve this and to support their frontline workers better.

But there are positives too. A lot of supermarket workers love serving their customers and find the hours convenient.

How to find out more

I hope you found this a useful starting point to better understand which supermarkets would offer the best deal for you.

To get a personalised job comparison you can take our survey.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or simply disagree with our findings then email us at hello@breakroom.cc