Whole Foods' New System Is Leaving Workers in Tears

The scorecards seem to be the biggest pain point of OTS, per Business Insider
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2018 9:28 AM CST
Updated Feb 4, 2018 1:33 AM CST
In this Friday, June 16, 2017, file photo, groceries from Whole Foods Market sit in a cart before being loaded into a car outside a store.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(Newser) – It's not a TPS report, but it may be just as stress-inducing. Business Insider reports that things aren't exactly hunky-dory at Whole Foods in the wake of Amazon's acquisition of it, and the 27 current and newly former employees it spoke with say the OTS system is a big part of the reason why. That's "order-to-shelf." The Austin Business Journal explains it's an inventory-management system that, as the name suggests, tries to move products from the truck right to the shelf, ideally increasing efficiency while trimming waste. But the employees say it's leading to food shortages, anxiety, crushed morale, and tears. "Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal," says a West Coast employee. One of the more damning quotes from a Georgia employee: "We've lost team leaders, store team leaders ... and even a regional vice president. Many of them have left because they consider OTS to be absurd."

The issue seems to largely be with the "scorecard" component of OTS. Per internal documents viewed by BI, managers are tasked with verifying things are stocked and displayed as they should be using the checklists; points are lost if an item "is even an inch outside of its designated spot," says a Colorado employee. Overall scores below 89.9% are considered failures, which BI's sources say can lead to firings. It's worth noting that Whole Foods has been chipper about the change, with execs telling investors it's achieving its noble aims. And Gizmodo notes OTS isn't an Amazon innovation: A Columbia Business School professor calls it a "pretty old practice," and Whole Foods announced it would use the system a few months prior to the acquisition. (Read more Whole Foods stories.)

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