Global Vice President of Team Member Services
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market is built upon eight core values that have created a rich corporate culture that is universally embraced by all store locations. As Global Vice President of Team Member Services, Mark Ehrnstein sees Whole Foods Market as being extremely team-focused, which has resonated well with customers, who know they’re getting products that are created with integrity and sourced using high-quality standards. For 18 consecutive years, Fortune magazine has recognized Whole Foods Market as one of the 100 best places to work.
Both internally and externally, Whole Foods Market has brought its core values to life, which is reflected well by the company’s mission and dedication to its stakeholders.
“For anyone who interacts with Whole Foods Market—whether it’s our customers, team members, suppliers or the communities we serve—our core values are reflected in everything we do, and our team members bring those values to life,” Ehrnstein says.
Whole Foods Market’s management places high value on a mission-driven branding approach that revolves around the integrity of its products, high-quality standards and providing transparency into the origins of the products that its stores carry.
“Knowing that our suppliers embrace our fair labor policy, sustainable farming practices and animal welfare standards has really helped to strengthen our brand,” he says. “These issues are important to our team members as well.”
Whole Foods Market views its employee structure as a set of teams rather than departments, and managers are referred to as team leaders.
“Language and the words we use are very important to us as we think about our culture being driven around census decision-making,” he says. “We don’t foster a culture of top-down command and control processes because it’s important for everyone to feel empowered and work together.”
Ehrnstein’s Team Member Services group interviews prospective leaders through a panel process with up to 10 people. The interview panel can be comprised of people who might report to the new hire, the new hire’s team leader and even peers. Even after a hire is made, the new hire must be approved by a two-thirds vote from their team following a 90-day trial period.
Whole Foods Market also prides itself on having fair compensation packages.
“All the way up to our CEO, no one’s total cash compensation can exceed 19 times the average hourly rate of pay,” Erhnstein says. “We also have what we call a wage disclosure report, enabling any team member to look up what someone else in the company earned during the previous calendar year.”
Whole Foods Market’s mission and purpose have helped the business and brand to stand for much more than just a grocery company.
“Our team members really connect to the idea that we’re out to change the world in meaningful ways, and this resonates for so many people who work at Whole Foods Market, as well as those who want to work here,” he says. “Over the next year, we are planning to create 9,000 new jobs and open 42 new stores, and for team members who really embrace our culture and promote our brand well, Whole Foods Market offers tremendous opportunities for advancement.”
To engage stakeholders and potential team members, Whole Foods Market uses social media on multiple platforms, as well as several different tools to recruit future team members via Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. The company is also currently developing an in-house app to serve as a single portal for team members to access their entire Whole Foods Market experience in one place.
“We’re always looking at ways to engage with our team members through different types of technology, including mobile apps, online training and other effective digital learning tools,” Ehrnstein says. “The app could have information about benefits, 401(k) information, learning portals, scheduling and anything else that would be helpful in supporting our team members.”