Valuing Our People

Grainger’s purpose is to help professionals keep their operations running and their people safe while creating a company where dedicated, talented people can thrive. This commitment comes to life in a number of ways, including our commitment to Workplace Safety, and through our dedication to the people who make Grainger A Place to Thrive.


We work hard to cultivate a great work environment for our team members because they are critical to the success of our business. We know that a great customer experience starts with a great team member experience and those experiences are driven by engaged and effective leaders. We provide our team members with training and development designed to help them succeed and grow their careers. We focus our efforts in three areas: talent management, team member well-being and creating an inclusive and diverse workplace.

Team Member Experience

Grainger is continuously improving our team member experience. We support each team member through talent management and team member learning programs, and we encourage career and leadership development at each stage of a team member’s tenure.

Talent Management     We offer a comprehensive talent program that begins at orientation and continues throughout a team member’s career. This is aligned to our business strategy; our company succeeds when we equip and energize team members to excel. Our talent program is comprised of career management, team member learning, performance management, and leadership development offerings to help develop and mobilize our team members to grow and succeed.

Grainger Talent Management

Team Member Learning     Our team members continue to learn and develop as the needs of our business change. Whether a team member requires role-specific training, foundational skill training or leadership training, Grainger offers 569 courses through our Learning Management System, and 201 courses through our Mobile Learning Platform for Sales as well as formal mentoring opportunities and on-the-job development. Through these opportunities, team members can grow in their current roles while developing skills for the future. In total, Grainger team members completed more than 211,000 non-operational training hours in 2016. The average number of training hours per team member was 13.

Leadership Development     We create a sustainable workforce through the development of strong leaders from all parts of the business. Our leadership development process succeeds by:

• Creating a strong bench of well-prepared leaders
• Enhancing organizational effectiveness and team member engagement through strong leadership

Grainger’s commitment to the growth of its team members is exhibited through its leadership development programs. These multi-week, cross-functional sessions are targeted toward key team members world-wide. Offerings include Grainger’s Global Emerging Leader Program, First Time Manager Program and Global Experienced Manager, a program added in 2014 for frontline and mid-level managers. Each program is designed to provide guidance to leaders wherever they are on their leadership journey. 1,029 team members participated in these programs in 2016.

In 2016, Grainger increased its investments in leadership effectiveness as part of its people strategy. Additional investments include implementing a people leader effectiveness goal, an upward feedback survey which allows team members to provide anonymous feedback to their leaders to help them grow and accelerating leader participation in leadership programs. Increasing the investment in leader effectiveness enables strong people leaders at every level of the company, which in turn has a significant effect on Team Member Experience and, ultimately, customer experience and business results.

Stages of Leadership Development

Performance Management     Performance Management is a continuous process that helps team members focus on the right priorities. Team members receive regular feedback and coaching to improve their performance and are provided with opportunities to help them grow and develop. Each team member develops three to five clear, meaningful goals that are aligned to company strategy and receive biannual performance assessments based on progress against goals and demonstrated behaviors.

Development Planning and Career Management     All team members are required to have a robust Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a documented plan shared between a team member and their leader that outlines a team member’s plan to grow and develop in their current roles and to prepare for future roles at Grainger. Additionally, we offer career planning tools for team members to explore new roles in different parts of Grainger’s business. A role library provides real life stories from team members that work in different functions, and self-assessments allow team members to discern opportunities that might be a strong fit.

Team Member Well-Being

At Grainger, we encourage our team members to take charge of their health and create their own wellness journey. Our benefits are designed to meet the diverse needs of our team members and support their health and well-being, financial future and work-life balance. Team members are given access to general health resources, disease management resources, online support communities, a 24-hour nursing hotline and many other resources so they can get timely health-related advice. We regularly seek team member feedback and conduct external compensation and benefits-related benchmarking to remain competitive in each of the markets in which we operate.

In addition, we provide variable health coverage, time off and retirement savings, as well as a variety of other health and wellness programs to U.S. team members. Each program is refined with a team member’s geography in mind, and additional benefits may include life and accident insurance, dental and vision insurance, disability insurance, paid holidays, product discounts, educational assistance, parental time off and team member profit sharing.

Industrial Athletes

Bending, twisting and lifting might describe a day in the life of a professional athlete. But the people who work in our distribution centers climb stairs, twist through small areas and lift heavy equipment. Therefore, Grainger developed the Industrial Athlete Program to prevent pain and injury, and encourage well-being. The program combines conditioning exercises and stretching and is designed to improve the physical and mental resilience of team members. Our goal is for team members to be able to fully engage in life without pain and injury and stay in the game for themselves, their families and their career.

Team members experience improved flexibility, higher energy levels, a more positive outlook, greater resistance to injury and disease and an enhanced ability to handle stress on and off the job. Those who participate in the program are also given tools, like physical therapy, to recover more quickly if an injury occurs.


Total Rewards Road Show     At Grainger, our long-term success is the direct result of team member collaboration and individual contribution. In return for everything our team members do, we deliver an above-market benefits program we call Total Rewards—with lots of flexibility and choice, and the opportunity for our team members to actively participate in the benefits that are most important to them.

In 2016, we traveled to 19 of our largest facilities to conduct the Total Rewards Road Show, an expansion of our health and benefits fair, with representatives from many of our core programs. The Total Rewards team and our program partners were on-site to engage in personalized dialogue with team members. Our approach is innovative and builds awareness and accountability for our team members around the services available to them as a member of Grainger’s team. Our team’s purpose during the roadshow was to:

• Reinforce the value of Grainger’s Total Rewards offerings
• Increase engagement, utilization and program and plan participation
• Create a closer, personal connection between team members and Total Rewards program
• Help team members understand the tools and resources available

Inclusion and Diversity

At Grainger, focusing on our common purpose and leveraging our differences makes us extraordinary. We are deeply committed to a culture of inclusion that is meaningful to our team members, allowing us to attract, develop, engage and retain the best talent available. We serve the business needs of an increasingly global and diverse customer base, and we strive to ensure our team reflects this rapidly changing world. Inclusion and diversity is integral to Grainger’s business success, and the company is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where all team members feel safe, valued and encouraged to voice their opinions, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, veteran status, disabilities or backgrounds.

The company reinforces its commitment to inclusion and diversity by offering instructor led and e-learning courses such as Inclusion and Diversity: A Business Imperative and The Inclusive Team Member, which help team members understand the business case for diversity, explore the enabling mindset and behaviors that facilitate inclusion in the workplace, respond effectively to differences and increase the level of inclusion in their work area. Another offering, The Inclusive Leader, equips people leaders with inclusive behaviors, skills and best practices around attracting, developing, engaging and retaining the best and brightest people at Grainger.

Business Resource Groups     Grainger has eight Business Resource Groups (BRGs) that foster team member engagement and help team members share information, ideas, experiences and resources. These groups provide peer support, career development and mentoring opportunities, in addition to raising awareness, through a variety of discussion groups and activities that are open to all.

• Administrative Business Partner
• African American
• Asian-Pacific Islander
• Equality Alliance
• Generational
• Latino
• Veterans and Military Supporters
• Women’s

Approximately 3,500 U.S. team members participate in the BRGs. Every BRG has an executive sponsor who works with these team member-led groups to help us create the right workplace by fostering inclusion and create the right workforce by attracting, developing and retaining top diverse talent. They have helped support the business strategy by creating unique value for different customers and reducing cost, and they have contributed to our communities as responsible stewards. In 2016, the BRGs contributed $48,000 in donations and volunteered with 14 different organizations including One Million Degrees, Girls on the Run, Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network, i.c. stars and Junior Achievement.

The Equity Alliance

The Equality Alliance BRG had a number of accomplishments in 2016, including creating a program of 1,500 Allies across the company dedicated to demonstrating acceptance and mutual respect, while advocating for the equality and fair treatment of all. Grainger is proud to foster a positive environment for all Grainger team members.

In addition, the team launched two new chapters in the U.S. and one in Canada, helped expand our product offering to include gender neutral restroom signs and sponsored a team member engagement event in support of National Anti-Bullying Day. Finally, Grainger earned a perfect score on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index. This marks the third consecutive year the company garnered this designation, which comes with the designation of “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.


2016 University Partnerships     We partner with several Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help strengthen the diversity of our talent pipeline. These include Howard University, Albany State University and Florida A&M University. Lastly, we strengthen our early-career talent pipeline through our internship program and direct placements. Our emphasis with these and other strategic organizations is on building deeper and more meaningful partnerships that can continually improve our ability to develop, attract and retain a diverse workforce.

2016 Strategic Alliance Partnerships     We also actively recruit from, and maintain relationships with several strategic alliance partnerships. These organizations include:

• National Association of Women MBAs
• National Sales Network
• National Black MBA
• Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement
• Indo American Career Services
• Reaching Out MBA
• HirePurpose
• US Business Leadership Network
• Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Hires from Strategic Alliance Partnerships

The African American BRG

In 2016 the African American Business Resource Group (AA BRG) launched a series of career symposiums, chapter development and community outreach projects to align with its “Reach Beyond” theme.

To begin the year, the AA BRG sponsored its second annual mixer at Grainger’s National Sales and Service Meeting. Attendees celebrated Black History Month, recognized Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, networked and met with Grainger’s leadership team. Also in 2016, the AA BRG provided coaching and mentorship to team members transitioning to new roles while establishing a new chapter and strengthening an existing chapter. Lastly, in 2016, the AA BRG and our Talent Acquisition team teamed up with National Sales Network to connect with 135 prospective diverse candidates, interview 74, and hire 15 new team members onto the Grainger team.


2016 Awards and Recognition

•  Fortune Most Admired Companies: #1 in Diversified Wholesalers
•  HRC Corporate Equality Index 3 years in a row
•  #17 on HR Executive Magazine’s Most Admired in HR List
•  2016 Executive Leadership Council Ambassador Company
•  Newsweek.com Top Green Companies in the U.S. 2016
•  FTSE4Good Member Company


FORWARD: What’s Coming in Our 2017 Report

•  Safety DNA: leadership development through operations
•  Implementation of 1:1 behavior-based safety coaching for select international locations
•  Expanded metrics on our talent ecosystem