From Daily Mail: Whole Foods has implemented a strict new inventory management system that includes bi-weekly walk-throughs and random quizzing of employees, and has left many workers feeling stressed out and punished.
The new system is called order-to-shelf (OTS) and has a strict set of procedures for purchasing, displaying and storing products on store shelves and in back rooms that is supposed to make stores more efficient and cut down on waste.
And to make sure stores are following the new procedures – stores are required to use ‘scorecards’ to evaluate each employees performance, according to Business Insider.
Though the system is meant to improve efficiency and stream-line storage, employees described it as onerous, stress inducing and punitive. ‘The stress has created such a tense working environment’ a supervisor in a West Coast store explained. ‘Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.’
Business Insider spoke with 27 current and former employees – some of whom had been with the company for up to 20 years.
Many workers are worried the new system will cause them to lose their jobs, and said they spend more time doing OTS-related paperwork than helping customers navigate the stores.
Executives think the new system cuts cost across stores, reduce employee theft, clears out storage and gives workers more time to engage with customers. And the employees who spoke to Business Insiderwill agree that the former system was ineffective and needed to change – but say the company’s ‘fix’ went too far.
‘The OTS program is leaving to sackings up and down the chain in our region,’ an employee in Georgia said. ‘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.’
The new system requires managers to walk through store aisles and storage rooms with checklists, or scorecards, to make sure everything is where it belongs. And if anything is in the wrong place, missing, or there is excess stock in storage, departments will lose points. One employee said that if an item is ‘even an inch outside of its designated spot,’ points will be deducted.
These walks, which happen frequently throughout the day, also include quizzes. Employees will be asked to recite things such as sales goals, top-selling items and last week’s sales on the spot. A failing score is anything below 89.9 percent, and if an employee fails they can be fired on the spot.
Company documents reviewed by Business Insider show that these quizzes, or ‘walks,’ happen twice a week. Corporate employees also visit the branches and conduct the tests monthly.
The walks have left employees stressed and fearful. ‘The fear of chastisement, punishment and retribution is very real and pervasive,’ a worker said. Another worker said the walks have caused them to have work-related nightmares.
Workers across the country think the new OTS system is failing, and many departed employees have said they think that is because of a lack of training. ‘The problem lies in the lack of training, and the fact that every single member of management from store level to corporate is over tasked and overburdened,’ a former employee said.