Whole Foods supermarket chain has a “wage transparency” policy that lets employees of the stores know what everyone else makes in the company.
“It gives people something to strive for,” Co-founder and CEO John Mackey told Freakonomics Radio host Stephen Dubner in an episode released Wednesday.
The average pay of professional titles of employees is published on the Whole Foods website.
Here are some average Whole Foods employee salaries, according to Whole Foods’ website. (Whole Foods has both hourly and salary employees, and most of the employees who work in stores are paid at an hourly rate.)
“Team members,” which are employees working on the floor of a store and do things like stock shelves, cut meat, prepare food, or check out customers, make an average annual pay of $30,000.
“Team leaders,” who are the employees in charge of a section of the store and train new employees, buy products and set pricing to determine profits, make $57,000 per year on average.
“Associate team leaders,” who assist a team leader, make an average annual pay of $43,000.
“Store team leaders,” or store managers, are paid an average of $99,000 per year.
“Associate store team leaders,” who are “the right-hand” to store managers and are involved in everything from hiring and training to merchandising and logistics, according to Whole Foods, make $73,000, a year on average.
According to Mackey, the idea of the wage transparency is that employees think, ”‘Wow, I had no idea that a coordinator could get paid that much. I want to be a coordinator.’ Or, ‘I really want to be a store team leader, because I had no idea that including their RSUs — the restricted stock units they get from Amazon — I mean, they may be making well over $100,000.’ And if you don’t have a college degree, that’s something to aspire to,” he says.
Many companies “believe that [wage transparency] is going to stoke envy. So it’s better to try to keep it hidden. I believe envy can be a problem, but I think about it differently,” Mackey said.
John Mackey borrowed $45,000 from family and friends in 1978 to open a health-food store with his then-girlfriend in a Victorian house in Austin, Texas. He was a college dropout with no real business experience but he did have access to $45,000 and an evangelical zeal for natural foods. This coincided nicely with a rising trend in healthier eating. Fast forward about four decades: and Whole Foods was a publicly owned corporation with about 500 stores in North America and the U.K.