Amazon Ownership of Whole Foods Giving Employees ‘Nightmares,’ Tanking Morale

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Morale among employees of grocery giant Whole Foods has cratered after Amazon owner Jeff Bezos bought the chain and instituted new stocking and employee management policies, a report says.

The popular Texas-based niche grocery chain was bought by Amazon last year for a hefty $13.7 billion price tag, but employees are ruing the day the online retailer made the purchase, according to Business Insider (BI).

Employees feel hard pressed by the new policies Bezos’s management team put in place at Whole Foods. The pressure put upon them by updated stocking procedures and “pop quizzes” is causing some to have “nightmares” about work.

“I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares,” a Whole Foods staffer told BI. “The stress has created such a tense working environment. Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.”

One of the problems for employees is the new order to shelf (OTS) stocking system put in place by Amazon bosses. The system is apparently breaking down morale.

According to Amazon, OTS is geared to deliver smaller amounts of product to stores in order to keep it fresh and to help the company track inventory better. But OTS requires employees to stock shelves far more often and to keep a closer eye on stockroom supplies to prevent shortages.

According to BI, there have been growing pains with the system, and some locations have experienced product shortages.

Still, Amazon says that when it purchased Whole Foods, its locations had a million dollars of product that was spoiling and had to be thrown away. With the new system, that is no longer a problem.

“On paper, things look good — our spoilage is in check, and I don’t have a lot of back stock. But I have never seen so many empty shelves in my store,” a manager told BI.

Customers have also noticed the lack of product, though, and many are questioning the new ownership, the site reports.

Still, BI also learned that with the OTS system, Whole Foods might be on track to saving $300 million in costs by 2020.

But it is another new management policy that seems to be giving employees the most stress. Managers have begun dropping pop quizzes on employees, replete with scorecards and a stiff grading policy. Less than 89 percent correct is a failing grade, which could lead to discipline or even termination.

The tests are brutal, say the employees BI spoke to:

Multiple employees said these tests had “crushed” morale in stores because workers are terrified of getting “walked” and missing some small detail.

“You are so concerned about passing this military-like test that you actually start to lose your department’s operational conditions,” an employee said.

Another worker explained: “We think of it as punishment. They think of it as a way to correct errors.”

Whole Foods is a favorite for many customers, but the new systems imposed by Amazon is causing some hiccups for the company. It remains to be seen if Amazon’s new systems will even out and bring profits.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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