Product details

By continuing to use our site you consent to the use of cookies as described in our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.
You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.

Abstract

Whole Foods Market (WFM) was the biggest organic and natural foods retailer in the world. The company was well known for its team-based operations and employee-oriented work culture, which were thought to be the main drivers of its growth and profitability in an industry that was characterised by negligible growth rates and declining profits. The work culture at WFM was centred on the company's grassroots level management, which helped it eliminate bureaucracy. The high degree of decentralisation also allowed the company to tailor its operations to meet the requirements of local communities. An example of the degree of decentralisation at WFM was the 'hiring vote', which empowered existing team members to choose the new recruits to their teams. WFM was also known for disclosing vast amounts of critical financial information to employees at all levels, and for encouraging team members and leaders to take decisions at the team level based on this information. WFM also disclosed the annual salaries of all its employees in its 'salary book', which was made available at all its locations. Additionally, the company had a salary cap, which restricted Chief Executive Officer John Mackey's pay to 14 times the average annual salary of all full time employees. These measures were thought to have played an important role in creating a culture of trust and openness at the company. Competitiveness was also promoted at WFM, and the company had a metrics-based culture, which encouraged teams to benchmark their performance against that of others within the system, leading to a culture of 'excellence'. This case examines the main elements of WFM's work culture, and analyses how they helped create a culture that became a source of competitive advantage for the company. The case also discusses Mackey's leadership style, and how it influenced the culture of WFM. It concludes with an analysis of WFM's stand on unions and the company's prospects and challenges in the future.
Location:
Industry:
Size:
Large
Other setting(s):
1978-2006

About

Abstract

Whole Foods Market (WFM) was the biggest organic and natural foods retailer in the world. The company was well known for its team-based operations and employee-oriented work culture, which were thought to be the main drivers of its growth and profitability in an industry that was characterised by negligible growth rates and declining profits. The work culture at WFM was centred on the company's grassroots level management, which helped it eliminate bureaucracy. The high degree of decentralisation also allowed the company to tailor its operations to meet the requirements of local communities. An example of the degree of decentralisation at WFM was the 'hiring vote', which empowered existing team members to choose the new recruits to their teams. WFM was also known for disclosing vast amounts of critical financial information to employees at all levels, and for encouraging team members and leaders to take decisions at the team level based on this information. WFM also disclosed the annual salaries of all its employees in its 'salary book', which was made available at all its locations. Additionally, the company had a salary cap, which restricted Chief Executive Officer John Mackey's pay to 14 times the average annual salary of all full time employees. These measures were thought to have played an important role in creating a culture of trust and openness at the company. Competitiveness was also promoted at WFM, and the company had a metrics-based culture, which encouraged teams to benchmark their performance against that of others within the system, leading to a culture of 'excellence'. This case examines the main elements of WFM's work culture, and analyses how they helped create a culture that became a source of competitive advantage for the company. The case also discusses Mackey's leadership style, and how it influenced the culture of WFM. It concludes with an analysis of WFM's stand on unions and the company's prospects and challenges in the future.

Settings

Location:
Industry:
Size:
Large
Other setting(s):
1978-2006

Related