Grocery giant Whole Foods has a bit of a problem on its hands, its workers can’t keep up with the frenetic pace reportedly demanded since Amazon bought out the franchise.
In a recent piece by Business Insider, 27 current and former employees speaking on condition of anonymity revealed the intense pressure placed upon since the implementation of a new inventory-management system at Whole Foods called order-to-shelf.
The newly introduced system reportedly presents a strict set of guidelines and procedures for displaying, storing and purchasing products that are on the shelves and in the stock room. As noted by Supermarket News, OTS has suppliers and distributors deliver products in small quantities allowing for stores to keep stockroom inventory low and save money.
However, the system has lowered morale and heightened stress among Whole Foods staff members, partially due to the attached compliance protocol that relies on managers walking the store with “scorecards” to evaluate employee performance.
“The OTS program is leading to sackings up and down the chain in our region,” an employee of a Whole Foods in Georgia stated. “We’ve lost team leaders, store team leaders, executive coordinators and even a regional vice president. Many of them have left because they consider OTS to be absurd. As an example, store team leaders are required to complete a 108-point checklist for OTS.”
This checklist utilizes a scoring system, as noted by Business Insider. Store managers conduct “walks” around the store and mark off the checklist accordingly. According to employees, if a store scores anything lower than an 89.9 percent on the checklist, employees can be fired.
One employee stated they “they wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares about maps and inventory,” adding that the pressure “has created such a tense working environment.
“Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.”
There appears to be a disconnect from the corporate level to the ground level as Whole Foods executives have stated that employees are excited by the new program.
“The team members are really excited about” OTS, said David Lannon, Whole Foods’ executive vice president of operations, during a phone call with investors last year. “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.”
Contrast that with an employee of a Midwest Whole Foods who recently revealed that the system “is running everyone into the ground and they absolutely hate it.”
“OTS has confused so many smart, logical, and experienced individuals, the befuddlement is now a thing, a life all its own,” another employee stated. “It’s a collective confusion — constantly changing, no clear answers to the questions that never were, until now.”
Jim Holbrook, CEO of retail consultancy firm Daymon Worldwide, praised Amazon and the OTS system, saying that Whole Foods’ parent company Amazon “is very good at managing logistics behind the scenes.”
Amazon, an online retail giant and Whole Foods’ parent company, was founded by Jeff Bezos.
The 54-year-old Amazon CEO also happens to be the owner of The Washington Post, a media outlet notoriously critical of President Donald Trump.
In 2015, Bezos and Trump got into back-and-forth banter on Twitter, leading Bezos to start a hashtag #sendDonaldtospace.
In 2016, Bezos again spoke out against Trump, stating that his actions and rhetoric as a presidential candidate “erodes our democracy around the edges.”
And it is no secret that Trump isn’t too fond of The Post or its owner either.
Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
The tax references in Trump’s tweets refer to claims the president has made that Amazon doesn’t pay taxes.
But in 2016, a newly elected Trump met with tech leaders, including Bezos, at a nationwide tech summit at Trump Tower.
It appeared that the two made nice after roughly a year of criticisms.
“I found today’s meeting with the president-elect, his transition team, and tech leaders to be very productive,” Bezos said in a statement. “I shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech — agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing — everywhere.”
However, their relationship appears to still be rocky as Trump attacked Amazon in an August tweet, stating that the company is negatively affecting jobs in the U.S.
It appears that Amazon’s handling of Whole Foods may cause jobs to plummet as well, not because of the economy, but because employees may be looking for greener pastures.
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