Whole Foods Employees Miserable: "Seeing Someone Cry At Work Is Becoming Normal"

Whole Foods' new inventory management system aimed at improving efficiency and cutting down on waste is taking a toll on employees, who say the system's stringent procedures and graded "scorecards" have crushed morale and led to widespread food shortages, reports Business Insider

The new system, called order-to-shelf, or OTS, "has a strict set of procedures for purchasing, displaying, and storing products on store shelves and in back rooms. To make sure stores comply, Whole Foods relies on "scorecards" that evaluate everything from the accuracy of signage to the proper recording of theft, or "shrink."

Some employees, who walk through stores with managers to ensure compliance, describe the system as onerous and stress-inducing. Conversations with 27 current and recently departed Whole Foods workers, including cashiers and corporate employees — some of whom have been with the company for nearly two decades — say the system is seen by many as punitive. -BI

Terrified employees report constant fear over losing their jobs over the OTS "scorecards," which anything below 89.9% can qualify as a failing score - resulting in possible firings. 

Store managers test employees twice weekly, according to company documents, while corporate employees from the store's Austin, Texas headquarters conduct monthly walkthroughs which stores must themselves pass. 

"I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares about maps and inventory, and when regional leadership is going to come in and see one thing wrong, and fail the team," a supervisor at a West Coast Whole Foods told Business Insider. "The stress has created such a tense working environment. Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal."


Despite the heart-palpitating shortcomings of the OTS system, employees, supervisors and industry analysts have said that Whole Foods' previous inventory management system was inefficient and needed to be updated. 

"Whole Foods had a very decentralized approach, which adds complexity, and complexity adds cost," said Jim Holbrook, CEO of private label and retail consultancy Daymon Worldwide, which recently started working with Whole Foods.

Under the old system, buyers at the store and regional levels had more sway over what to sell. With OTS, however, those decisions have been shifted to the Austin corporate offices - a similar approach to conventional supermarkets like Safeway and Kroger. 

It remains to be seen whether this business model — and OTS — will work for Whole Foods. Holbrook believes it will. He said Amazon, which purchased Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion, would be able to help Whole Foods work out the kinks with OTS.

"Amazon is very good at managing logistics behind the scenes," Holbrook said. "Whole Foods will be a better shopping experience as a result."

Many employees are also hopeful that Amazon will fix the new system.

"We all just hope that Amazon will walk into some stores and see all the holes on the shelf," a 12-year employee of a Midwest Whole Foods said. -BI

In their defense, Whole Foods says it's order-to-shelf (OTS) system allows employees more time to engage with customers - a poorly thought out response. 

"The team members are really excited about" order-to-shelf, said Whole Foods EVP of operations David Lannon last year on a call with investors, adding "They're really proud when they're able to achieve that, which is lower out-of-stocks, less inventory in the store, being able to be on the sales floor talking to customers and selling more products."

Boston Whole Foods (Paul Fantoni)

Whole Foods employees around the country thought that was hilarious. One such disaffected West Coast supervisor said "On my most recent time card, I clocked over 10 hours of overtime, sitting at a desk doing OTS work," adding "Rather than focusing on guest service, I've had team members cleaning facial-care testers and facing the shelves, so that everything looks perfect and untouched at all times."

Many Whole Foods employees at the corporate and store levels still don't understand how OTS works, employees said.

"OTS has confused so many smart, logical, and experienced individuals, the befuddlement is now a thing, a life all its own," an employee of a Chicago-area store said. "It's a collective confusion — constantly changing, no clear answers to the questions that never were, until now."

An employee of a North Carolina Whole Foods said: "No one really knows this business model, and those who are doing the scorecards — even regional leadership — are not clear on practices and consequently are constantly providing the department leaders with inaccurate directions. All this comes at a time when labor has been reduced to an unachievable level given the requirements of the OTS model."

Other employees have complained about a lack of training as a key reason as to why the OTS system is failing. 

"The problem lies in lack of training and the fact that every single member of management from store level to corporate is over tasked and overburdened," according to one former corporate employee who conducted walkthroughs at East Coast locations. 

Some even suggested that Whole Foods corporate had no clue about working in stores - and that the new OTS protocols were absurd. 

"In the beginning, we actually had a checklist where one task was to initial that you initialed off another task." 



MK ULTRA Alpha HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:04 Permalink

The snowflakes are melting under the stress of being. They need a safe place to collect themselves, but that would be on company time. So they melt?

Are we suppose to feel sorry for them or is this an examination of the end of the American work ethic?

I believe the term snowflake is appropriate for this new era. From the New Normal era to the Snowflake era. It's a good example of the constant insanity foisted upon the American mind.

Communist defeatism is now chanted loud and clear across the nation, but realist continue living their lives, leaving the communist behind.

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

erkme73 JimmyJones Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:11 Permalink

Wife is an ER MD.  The physician leasing firm that employs her, which has the contract at the local hospital, recently got bought out by a new group.  Suddenly she has a new director who assigns quotas to everything, and grades every aspect of her performance.   It is quite stressful, and takes much of what little joy there was in her profession, and flushes it away.  She is actively entertaining head hunters' calls again.

In reply to by JimmyJones

Oldwood Lost in translation Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:54 Permalink

"People need to stop producing and stop contributing."

Exactly what they are hoping for. 95 million already beat you to it.

The answer is to produce MORE for ourselves, not them. Build and maintain our own homes and gardens, or work cooperatively with others. The beast is government and you starve it by cutting off it's revenues before it has everyone dependently in it's grasp.

It's not easy. It's HARD.  It's WORK.

Not begging for job security and benefits as mandated by government, ensuring that everyone evolves into working for some mega Corp agent representative of big government, is the path less taken.

In reply to by Lost in translation

Oldwood erkme73 Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:26 Permalink

We demand to not be treated as robots but also demand to be treated by one...cheap, efficient and don't talk back.

Our demand for the cheapest price at the greatest convenience ensures our eventual extinction. What DOES happen to redundant high maintenance species?

They're piling up fast. I think we shall soon find out. Shortage of flu medicine you say?

In reply to by erkme73

A Nanny Moose erkme73 Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:57 Permalink

Just finished a two-year project building a hospital's Information Security Program....everything heading toward performance metrics measured against some horseshit ticketing system. Such systems only encourage throwing of horseshit over the fence, by incapable amateurs, to the people who actually know how to think. This program was put in place by a CIO who was former Air Farce.

It now takes 5 fucking hours of bureaucratic horseshit to perform 1/2 hour of actual engineering/technical work. The next step is to automate technical work from within the change control and IT automation systems.

Mark my words....just wait until the vulnerabilities in these change control, and Information Security Automation systems are exploited. Wait for the flaws in the code used to automate creation of entire networks, sever farms, security policies, etc.

I don't want to be within 100 miles of anything modern when this all goes to shit.

In reply to by erkme73

Laowei Gweilo Cognitive Dissonance Tue, 02/06/2018 - 22:36 Permalink

Efficiency, bitchez!

As someone that has shopped at Whole Foods for years -- mostly because it's the only grocer anywhere near me downtown =/ -- most of the employees have always treated their jobs like a social gathering to discuss quinoa, fair-trade, and yoga. 

I'm no fan of Amazon but since they took over, prices are down and employees actually look busy. 

So can't say I give a shit if they cry themselves to sleep.


Anyone that has any portion of actual liability for business earnings and people's pay cheques would see a fucking scorecard as a beach vacation.

God forbid they have some accountability in their libtard world.

In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Laowei Gweilo Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:06 Permalink

You have my sympathy. There is no fucking way I would shop in that overpriced, snobby, shithole store. I have an awesome local Kroger. Union employees that are well paid and work hard. Store is clean, staff are friendly, produce and meat selection is excellent. I can get organic dandelion greens, beets with the greens attached much of the year.

Just heard about a local sail foam thief at a local credit union and Walmart. Take a guess as to the person's skin color? If you guessed colored, you guessed right. They hit the Credit Union, a Lowe's, and Walmart. Looks like time for me to move on!

In reply to by Laowei Gweilo

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 rockstone Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:50 Permalink

Colin Flaherty has done a good job documenting the effect of Section 8 on suburban neighborhoods like mine. It isn't good. First time I have heard of someone stealing a fucking phone. Am I surprised? No. Noticed mobs of young thugs walking home from school to nearby apartments. It was only a matter of time until they started preying on the locals.

There are plenty of libtards in my neighborhood. There have been a few warnings about theft, and attacks on the local bike path. I expect those attacks to increase. Of course my liberal neighbor's will make excuses, stay, complain about increased property taxes and theft and break ins. I am NOT planning on staying that long. Interesting to see how people become lambs to the slaughter.

In reply to by rockstone

Laowei Gweilo HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Wed, 02/07/2018 - 00:02 Permalink

it's either that or I make a short drive to T&T (Chinese supermarket here in Canada) where I can the exact opposite experience haha

poor elder Cantonese (the pre-wealthy mainland crowd) that walk around like overworked zombies, and the joy of cheap mystery meat, very UN-organic produce, and mislabeled seafood ^_^

that said, I try go Urban Fare if I can cuz they privately and locally owned, operated,  and [despite being a little higher end] are ... I think at least... reasonable unionized as part of the broader [and cheaper] supermarket group they're apart of. seems like the best balance of price and quality, and employees that get paid decent but work hard, and is still a local/private corporation o.0 Jimmy Pat has a rep for cutting back full-time hours to skim on benefits via more part-timers but it's either that of they basically become Whole Foods 2.0 -_-


In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

dchang0 HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:16 Permalink

My local grocery store is unionized. The union forced the removal of the self-check-out kiosks, but because union employees are expensive, the management always hires too-few cashiers. So the customers end up stuck waiting in long lines with only one or two checkout lanes open.

Yeah, the store is clean, and the workers are friendly, but I'd rather not wait in lines 5 persons deep to subsidize their union wages. As as result, I simply shop there less often and buy more groceries from Amazon (oh the irony).


The only thing that will stop me from shopping at Amazon is when fuel prices get high enough that Amazon can't keep shipping costs free or low enough. But then, if fuel prices are high for Amazon, they will be high for me too, so the drive to the local supermarket may still cost more than just paying Amazon to ship it to me.

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 dchang0 Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:42 Permalink

My store has self check out. It has a number of lines from 15 items or less to more. There is always a queue manager to make sure you get through quickly. Compared to my local Walmart, I prefer the union grocery store. Walmart sucks. Shelves are empty. Employees have a shitty attitude.

Good luck getting those organic beets with greens attached, shipped via Amazon. Let me know how it works out living on shitty, processed crap food. If you live that long.

In reply to by dchang0

ChiangMaiXPat Laowei Gweilo Wed, 02/07/2018 - 00:39 Permalink

LaoWei....AssClown!!! What the hell are you talking about? WholeFoods for whatever it was “WAS” the Gold standard now after Amazon controls it looks 3rd World! Amazon communist I mean “centralized” control systems of time/efficiency card in triplicate...THAT’s PROGRESs. Prices are down...go fucking eat @ McDonalds and shop @ the fucking dollar store. Tell me why Amazon/CIA buying WholeFoods is a good thing cornering food supply....? 



In reply to by Laowei Gweilo

WilliamShatner Laowei Gweilo Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:07 Permalink

100% agree with you, my experience at Whole Foods has been the same.  Employees have a very casual, no-hustle attitude with their jobs.  It's like they are socializing first, working second.

Saw the same thing at a tech company I interviewed at recently.  Lot's of 20 somethings in a diverse atmosphere of female empowerment loafing around and working casually.  No hustle at all.

After hitting some of them with some hard questions, I could tell my thick skin and hard nosed approach to work would disrupt their safe space.  They've never experienced a bear market in anything.  God help them when hard times.


In reply to by Laowei Gweilo

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 WilliamShatner Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:13 Permalink

I agree. They won't have a fucking clue. I post on a neighborhood site. According to some of the replies I got you would think I was the biggest bully on the block because I advised people to do proper screening and to have a contract prior to allowing someone to rent a room in their home. I am convinced there are complete idiots out there. Clueless, unprepared, that think emotional blackmail or sympathy is going to be enough for them to survive. Not with me. Work, provide a service, or bye.

In reply to by WilliamShatner

BobEore BabaLooey Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:03 Permalink

Couldn't happen to a bigger bucket o phucks!

For years these scrub assholes rode high n mighty over the jungle which the world o 'natural foods' had become... gobbling up the market share of independent owners who stuck to the organic only format instead of the sneaky... blend n pretend which would be become the hallmark of the new style 'organic-lite' - avocadoes 'organic' one week... conventional the next... cause the price at farmgate went up. Sleepy do-head customers who never read the small print on the signs would never clue in to the difference.

And everybody was a winner- cept the now extinct local store... the growers who didn't water down production practices at the 'suggestion' of big buyers... and the customer base which now gets to feast on the debris left by BIG K\osher/ ABBLALISMs takeover of the table as well as the finances of TARDNATION.

cRy me a river crybabies... then die like the silly shits what you always knew yu were!



In reply to by BabaLooey