One of the keys to organizational success is a company’s leadership ability to translate customer focused strategies into customer driven behaviors by the employees. At the center of Whole Foods’ organizational culture is an understanding of the importance in educating consumers about nutrition and its relationship to health and wellness. The success of a company to maintain an enduring foundation of competitive advantage is based on how the organization manages its human resources.
Whole Foods’ leadership development strategy is one of a team-based production system whereby employees are extensively trained and empowered in the development of the job’s design.
The following is an examination of Whole Foods Corporation’s leadership culture, team structure, and human resource strategy. Also discussed is how the Whole Foods Corporation leadership culture, team structure, and human resource strategies provide an engaging environment for employees. People often think that motivating others is about pushing, coning, or paying someone to do something in favor of the organization in charge.
Today’s organizations face innovation challenges necessary to grow and moment within their industries on a global level (Shelton, 2010). One of the keys to organizational success is a company’s leadership ability to translate customer focused strategies into customer driven behaviors by the employees. From a health and wellness perspective, only when management is on board and involved in wellness initiatives will the rest of the company follow, and by then can such a program succeed. Whole Foods Corporation recognized the importance Of such programs and started an organization- wide dialogue about health care.
Whole Foods Corporation uses employee- oriented and team-based operations as the main drivers for the company’s culture and productivity. Company History In 1980, four local businesspeople got together to devise a natural food supermarket because they believed in their vision that the industry was ready for such a format. At opening time, the staff was comprised of only 19 members lead by Whole Foods founders John Mackey, Renee Hardy, Craig Weller, and Mark Skills. All of whom were small business owners of natural food products (Whole Foods. Com, 2010).
In 1 980, there were fewer than twelve natural food supermarkets in America. Mackey and Hardy were college dropouts who borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open a store that featured organic and natural foods. Today, Whole Foods Corporation owns many companies including Wild Oats Markets, Fresh and Wild Markets (in the ASK), Select Fish Markets, Harry Farmers Markets, Food for Thought Markets, Nature’s Heartland Markets, Bread of Life Markets, and the list goes on. Wild Oats alone generated over 58. 6 million dollars in 2008 (Siegel, 2005).
The Whole Foods Corporation is now the biggest organic food retailer in the world (Whole Foods. Com, 2010). Whole Foods Corporation Core Values According to Whole Foods. Com (201 0), core values are the “soul” Of the company and transcend the growth rate and size of the organization. Topping Whole Foods list of core values is the share passion that natural food products can have a positive impact on the quality of a person’s life. Whole Foods strives to provide the freshest, safest, most nutritious, and best tasting foods consistent with the high standards of the organization’s reputation.
They see themselves as an agent for buying food for their customers not as another organization selling food for them. At the center of Whole Foods’ organizational culture is an understanding of the importance in educating consumers about nutrition and its relationship to health and wellness. In order to provide this education to the consumer, the employees must be extremely well versed in the field of holistic foods and their nutritional value. According to their website, it is the employees understanding of the products and collective efforts that have led to the company’s overall success (Whole Foods. Mom, 2010). Leadership Development Strategies . Imposes cannot and will not do much for their employers if they do know hat is going on and what is expected of them (Farina, Bangle, Vetch et al. , 2003). At the grassroots base of Whole Foods Corporation lies the concept of decentralization. According to Martinez- Vazquez and Titmouse (2010), many organizations see decentralization as a form of company freedom that brings about an enhance awareness of community and employee needs. It promotes a culture of worker autonomy and employee engagement.
By eliminating much of the bureaucratic style of management, Whole Foods Market has become the biggest retailer of organic and natural foods in the world (Fisher, 2008). An example Of the decentralization strategy incorporated by Whole Foods was the empowering of employees in the participation of hiring of new recruits for their teams (Seeds & Shade, 2008). They disclosed large amounts of the organization’s financial data to employees at every level of the company and advised them to make decisions on a team level with the given information (Seeds & Shade).
Whole Foods Corporation is definitely not a case of decentralization implying a lack of organization, but it is rather a case of carefully planned strategies to educate each company s team with large amounts of information deemed necessary or the deployment and localization to the area in which they are functioning. The success of a company to maintain an enduring foundation of competitive advantage is based on how the organization manages its human resources.
Whole Foods’ leadership development strategy is one of a team-based production system, whereby employees are extensively trained and empowered in the development of the job’s design. According to Hosannas, Hagen, and Dais (2006), employees work harder when they have more control of their work, and when encouraged to improve upon their skills and competency levels, they will work smarter. The more responsibility a person is given; the more responsibly the person works (Hosannas et al. ). Health Care Benefits According to Patterson, Brenna, Misfield et al. 2008), companies faced with highly resistant employees should not try to gain control over them by “wowing” (p. 1 08) them with logical arguments. Patterson et al. Suggested organizations allow their workers to discover links between what they want and their current behavior on their own. Originally, Whole Foods Corporation’s employee healthcare plan was comprised of an HOMO plan, catastrophic plan, or a comprehensive plan (three options). However, when the economy had a business downturn in 2002, the company was forced to channel all of the employees into one plan.
According to Jackson (2010), the workers became very disenchanted with their employer. John Mackey (Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods) answered the problem by organizing team meetings with team members and their managers in nearly every store from coast to coast (Jackson). Amazingly, Mackey felt inspired to let the teams design a new plan themselves. Hundreds of proposals, made by thousands of employees, were taken into consideration and ultimately served as the Asia for the company’s new and improved benefits and health and wellness program (Jackson).
During the time that Whole Foods teams were designing their own wellness program, top level management created a Personal Wellness Account (PEA) for each individual worker. Every employee was given a debit card that held $1500. 00 of credit that could be used to cover such items as their medical benefit’s deductible or any other out of pocket expenses related to health care Jackson, 2010). The way Whole Foods accomplished this was by placing a heftier price on their vision and dental Lana (underworld, 2005). This smart and productive thinking has benefited the health of the entire organization.
Whole Foods human resource strategies empowered their employees to exercise authority over the utilization of their PAW funds which in turn instituted a sense of pride of their ownership in the wellness plan. According to Jackson (201 0), the employees felt more involved in their programs and therefore wanted to become more educated and proactive in their own health concerns. This had a rippling effect and drove Whole Foods healthcare costs down more than 40 percent per worker exulting in better overall healthcare for the company as a whole.
These human resource strategies instituted by the Whole Foods supermarket giant has made them today one of the most innovate organizations in the industry. Employee Engagement Applying the term employee engagement into a search engine led to thousands of such articles mentioning Whole Food Corporation. Employee engagement has become a well-documented study in the field of organizational psychology. Whole Foods Corporation is one of the trailblazers in this area due to the tools and technologies they have developed resulting n a culture of pride and success.
They have successfully moved away from traditional hierarchal company cultures to a transformed and sustainTABLE Cue True of innovative employee engagement (Leadership Beyond Limits, 2010). According to Incentive Magazine (2009), Whole Foods Corporation employees earned a 20 to 30 percent discount on store products based on their cholesterol levels, blood pressure measurements, body-mass index, and smoking habits. This is practicing preventive health care and shows employees that the organization cares about their wellness.
The leadership t Whole Foods provided laboratories (on-wheels) to their stores to take blood and perform other medical procedures and they instituted competitions between regions to keep workers motivated (Incentive Magazine). This display of a company’s concern for its employees defines organizational innovativeness and appreciation for human capital as its greatest resource. However, according to Wyatt (201 0), recognizing the aforementioned health competitions is discriminatory.
The author stated that she is all for a health workforce, but feels grateful she is not a Whole Foods employee (Wyatt). This, according to Wyatt, is because of her health history; she exercises daily and carefully watches her diet; however, she stated that as people get older it is not as easy to maintain the IBM of someone in their twenties. This can also be construed as a type of age discrimination or genetic discrimination. As a matter of fact, Wyatt will no longer shop at Whole Foods (Wyatt).
This makes one wonder how many other people feel this way? Once again, though, the positives outweigh the negatives. Initiatives that promote optimal health can always put some people on the defense. There will always be exceptions (I. E. Obesity due to thyroid disease, hypertensive disorders unrelated to exercise and weight) to being TABLE to control or maintain optimal States Of health. For the majority Of people Whole Foods approach towards health and wellness are stimulating fun, and beneficial for its employees.
Another inflammatory issue has recently reared itself in several article, blobs, and chat rooms regarding Whole Foods health care initiatives. Apparently, Whole Foods had garnished a reputation for being a left leaning liberal organization. Recently, according to Fulton (2009), Whole Food has been hit with a potential boycott of their goods cause of their lack of support for President Beam’s plans for Health Care. Fulton stated that Mackey (owner of Whole Foods), endorses the conservative view on health care in America.
Fulton quoted Mackey’s comments to the Wall Street Journal, “”the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system” (Para 1). Whole Foods is addressing the situation by providing a discussion forum on their FaceTABLE website asking for suggestions. In a new article authored by Mackey in 2009, he stated that according to the national deficit, “we are rapidly running out of other people’s money’ (Para 2).
One might ask what pertinence Mackey’s opinions have on Whole Foods organizational culture? When controversy strikes a well bonded Organization, conflict can be seen as a positive agent for change. Mackey’s concern for the well being of his workers is evident because he believes the best way to bring down the cost of health care lies in prevention (Mackey, 2009). It is obvious by the transparency evolve Food’s core values that they eave an honest and self confident way of sticking to them.
When a company sticks to its values, it inevitably increases trust. Effectiveness of the Whole Foods System The overall effectiveness of the decentralized system utilized by Whole Foods Corporation is a booming success. This is evidenced by the organization being a $4 billion Fortune 500 company, the largest natural foods retail chain in the world, and a Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 8 years consecutively, and it is predicted to sustain itself during the present and future economical storms (Mackey & Wilier, 2010).
One of the reasons decentralized systems work is the fact that it creates a trusting environment where each individual worker can manage their job as part of an interconnected system. When workers feel trusted and are thought of as being responsible, they tend to behave responsibly and committed. Decentralization, according to Claimer (2001 provides a culture focused on meeting customer needs and “not the internal bureaucracy’s needs” (Para 6). Claimer also stated, companies that are high performers, when faced with chaos; thrive by adapting and using innovative problem solving strategies.
Fisherman (1996) stated a simple and most important business strategy used by Whole Foods Corporation is evidenced by the fact when you walk into one of their stores “The youthful staff is cheerful, knowledgeTABLE, eager to answer questions and offer samples” (Para 1). According to Fisherman, Whole Foods Market is the world’s best example of democratic capitalism. Whole Foods has displayed employee autonomy, empowerment, and team work as a highly profiTABLE and powerful business model. Robins (2010) stated that Whole Foods knows how to capitalize on the basic human need for love.
They o this by emphasizing a caring culture; where in return for the love they give, they receive highly innovative and profiTABLE returns while at the same time adding value to the community (Robins). It is not a common occurrence to actually see the word love in relationship to organizational leadership. The positive aspect of the use of an intimate and emotional word such as love when speaking about a company is it registers as heartfelt regard for the wellbeing of the company’s employees. Diverse Workforce Whole Foods places a strong emphasis on the importance of their commitment to diversity.
They take diversity seriously and honor their workers differences. According to Padlock (2007), Whole Foods has traditionally supported the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Interest (LIFT) communities. Whole Foods commitment to diversity and supporting the LIGHT is a nothing less than a brilliant example of how the company aligns itself with community and commerce (Padlock). Whole Foods. Com (2010) stated the organizational leaders do not believe in an “us verses them” approach with their employees; each worker’s unique contributions are recognized.
Whole Foods has a policy entitled the Declaration of Interdependence proclaiming to maintain a steadfast commitment to employee excellence and their happiness. Part of the Declaration of Interdependence proclaims Whole Foods as an all inclusive organizational culture. “Everyone is welcome regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, beliefs, or personal appearance. We value diversity ? whole foods are for everyone (Whole Foods. Com, 2010, website). Talent Acquisition Strategy Recruiting, hiring and then retaining good workers are an important part of any business organization.
Presently this process is increasingly complicated s it has to continually change in accordance with the evolving laws, corporate strategies, demographics, and environments. Planning and assessing staffing issues requires an evaluation of the worker capacity needed to meet the company’s objectives and goals, estimating the quantity of staff needed, and leeway for adjustments when necessary. Abortionist (2003) stated Whole Foods is in continuously looking to better their hiring practices and enhance the candidate experience.
The Whole Foods availTABLE positions advertisement posts the following, “Candidates must be prepared to think, learn, and nutrient all while consistently communicating and modeling the Whole Foods Market vision and goal” (Careers in Grocery. Com, 2010). This advertisement in itself speaks to Whole Foods talent acquisition strategy. After the development of a staffing plan, each job needed in the organization must be analyzed; this is known as a job description. Job descriptions are a most important managerial tool, and at Whole foods, they have a team approach to such decisions.
A review of the many employee related links availTABLE from the Whole Foods Market. Com company website revealed that he organization links manager satisfaction with the efficiency of recruitment which, according to the website, is a result of engaging talent by communicating the organization’s brand in a clear and concise manner (Whole Foods. Com, 201 0; Fresh Market. Com, 2010). It was very interesting to find that Wild Oats. Com is coming soon and that there is not a Hardy’s Farmers Market. Com.
Websites are a leading form of advertisement these days; therefore, it was highly unexpected to find these companies did not have an established and regularly visited web address; this is an area that needs improvement. The Whole Foods owned companies not having website addresses can be considered a hindrance to talent acquisition. Often, when looking for the best place to work, the best atmosphere within which to work, or the best benefits offered by a company, people will visit companies’ websites. Impact of Globalization In 2007, Whole Foods Corporation opened its first UK store in London.
According to Whittle (2007), Whole Foods is having an impact on the entire world. The article boasted that people not only visit the store for its health food options and customer friendly atmosphere, but find the experience to be entertaining (Whittle). One shopper mentioned in Headline’s article equates the Whole Foods experience to shopping in paradise. California Lutheran University website posted an Educate Yourself on Globalization (2010) article that described Whole Foods as an excellent example of a company’s social responsibility toward developing countries.
Whole Foods, as part of their mission, developed what is now known as the Whole Trade Guarantee. This globalization initiative strives to create sound practices toward environmentally friendly products and practices that promote support for the poverty stricken by donating one percent of the money from sales production o the Whole Planet Foundation. The Whole Trade Guarantee is a way of extending the companies core values that let customers know they are buying the best products for themselves, for the community, and for the world (Whole Food Markets. Mom, 2010). Another commendTABLE attribute portrayed by Whole Foods is their Whole Planet Foundation. They have instituted a fundraiser designed to finance an impacting documentary on world poverty (Whole Food. Com, 2010). The film’s objective is to engage college students to find creative ways to live on a dollar a day in a Guatemalan village for a period of nine weeks. The students will be working as farmers. According to the Living on One Dollar a Day Foundation’s website (2010), 27 billion people in this world live on under two dollars a day and 1. Billion people live on less than one dollar per day. Whole Planet Foundation. Org (2010) has spotlighted several Whole Foods employees participating in their cause. One in particular, Crystal Armament, was noted as stating what a good feeling it is to work for a company that values helping others. Armament is heading to Guatemala as a Whole Foods Team Member volunteer this summer (Whole Planet Foundation. Org). Community Service Whole Foods Corporate style is aligned with Patterson, Greene, Maxilla’s et al. , 2008 discussion about influence and social support.
The authors stated that individuals who are respected have the ability to exert great influence (Patterson et al. ). Whole Foods Corporation provides an excellent example of great influence, not only in the business world, but also on the environment and in the community. For instance, in October (201 0), during a seven week fundraising campaign, Whole Foods customers contributed more than SSL . 4 million for the addition of salad bars in community schools. The Salad Bar Project was part of America’s National School Lunch week advocating of healthy food choices (Whole Foods Market. Mom). Each store is designed, staffed, and developed with the unique characteristics in mind of the community within which it serves. The employees are a part of that community and often serve in events and chariTABLE functions as part Of the Whole Foods employee volunteers. Every whole Foods story donates items to the local food banks (Whole Foods Market. Com, 2010). For more than two decades, Whole Foods has a reputation for supporting local farmers. They pacifically begin their search for produce indigenous to every community in which they open a store.
Whole Foods has a particular commitment to buy foods grown organically by local farmers. By purchasing foods from local farmers, Whole Foods has a positive impact on the environment by lessening transportation needs, and thereby reducing costs associated with product transportation (Whole Foods Market. Com). On a personal note, it is enlightening to see a company in the organic grocery industry’ rank amongst such Fortune 500 companies as AS, Southwest Airlines, Google, and others. Whole Foods business and personnel strategies are innovative, productive, and investing in the great good of mankind.
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