Late Friday afternoon, an employee of the Whole Foods Market in Toronto sent this epic resignation letter to the entire company. It's an alternatingly amusing, enlightening, and occasionally infuriating read—but a good read, nonetheless.
The letter begins with a point-by-point evisceration of the grocery chain's carefully calibrated image as an earth-and-body-friendly, organic foods paradise. Likening the chain to "a faux hippy Wal-Mart," our disgruntled bulk foods buyer accuses the company of constantly mistreating and underpaying their employees. (Like Wal-Mart and Target, this corporate retailer is staunchly anti-union, though stores do offer American employees affordable health care.)
But for every compelling point our writer makes, there's one that hurts his credibility. For example, on the subject of promptness, he writes, "Oh, you actually think being 20 minutes late matters?" Yes, actually, I do. Then the employee gets deeply personal, calling out individual co-workers by name, and devotes a paragraph to each in which he details exactly what he thinks their problem is. It's all utterly uncalled for, but also pretty hilarious.
So yeah, he's a dick, but you could probably have figured that with his choice of opening quote — or his choice to open with a quote at all. Here's the letter. All names have been redacted, and certain boring passages about wholesale prune purchasing have been omitted for your own good. And I'll throw this out to Whole Foods employees — is there a quinoa of truth to what he's saying? Email me.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Dear Whole Foods Market,
My experience at Whole Foods was like an increasingly sped up fall down a really long hill. That got rockier with every metre. And eventually, just really spiky ... With fire, acid and Nickleback music. I was hired about five or six years ago. I appreciated and respected what the company said it's philosophies were at that time. The "core values" essentially. However, it didn't take long to realize what complete and utter bullshit they are:
Oh, you don't recycle properly? (Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, you throw out enough food to feed a lot of hungry university students. (Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, you're asking me to put latex gloves on the sales floor so customers can throw a pair out for every handful of gummy bears they take? (Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, you've installed massive television screens all over the store, sucking up energy and polluting the environment with tacky advertisements. (Caring about our communities and our environment, Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you waste an absurd amount of energy, ink and paper in your offices for useless bureaucratic nonsense. (Caring about our communities and our environment, Supporting team member happiness and excellence, )
Oh, you just write off 10-20% of the product that you buy for your bulk department because the bins look nice. (Caring about our communities and our environment).
Oh, you sometimes intentionally order too much just to guarantee a full shelf, knowing full well the product will most likely be thrown out? (Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, you don't actually audit or evaluate each product you sell? (Caring about our communities and our environment, We sell the highest quality natural and organic products available)
Oh, you force team members to come in to work, on their day off, once a month, at 7 in the morning, knowing a lot of them live an hour away and the TTC isn't completely running that early in the morning and then force feed them useless updates on the company and embarrassingly artificial pep talks ([Redacted] once compared Whole Foods Market to religion... had to throw that in there. That was definitely a "Did she really just say that moment.")? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence, Caring about our communities and our environment)/
Oh, you buy poorly made, ugly t-shirts for your employees that will just be thrown in the trash and pretend they're gifts when they're really just advertising tools? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence, Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, the food here is really quite awful on average? Almost everything that prepared foods makes is terrible. The pizza used to be pretty good but the slices have shrunk, the toppings are sparser and it's usually extremely overcooked. The sandwiches are the stuff of nightmares. (It's amazing what advertising can make people think. It can even trick their senses.) (We sell the highest quality natural and organic products available)
Oh, you let some customers abuse your employees and then actually reward the customers for their behaviour and then trample on the integrity and honour of your abused employees? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you practice discrimination by offering "healthier" employees better discounts? And you think having different rules for new smoker employees versus old smoker employees is a good idea? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you purchase products from Israel (Or any distant country) if they're slightly cheaper than local alternatives? (Caring about our communities and our environment)
Oh, you've somehow created the worst computer program I've ever used to run your entire buying system? IRMA is some Windows 95 era stuff, guys. I could design a significantly better interface in 30 minutes on a pad of paper. I know several students who could create a superior program in their spare time. Was someone actually hired to create that thing? Was it the Realplayer dudes? Even Captain Picard couldn't facepalm hard enough to express the amount of failure in that... that, thing... (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you push employees into greater responsibilities without compensation? Often having them essentially do all the work of a higher position without the pay? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you ambush employee's using two managers when you want to write someone up? No warning. No representation. All reasons and excuses fall on deaf ears. (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you'd rather attempt to create some sort of fake "culture" with signs and forced meeting than let it happen naturally by letting employees socialize lightly as they work? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you like to manage "systems" instead of people? You don't hold critical thinking and discretion in high regard? You encourage blindly following rules? I.e., no recourse in challenging write ups. Employees given cold shoulder when they attempt anything like this. (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you want us to politely call and let you know if we'll be late... but you'll still write us up when we arrive? Kind of a dick move, guys. (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you actually think being 20 minutes late matters? You know Whole Foods Market is just a grocery store, right? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
Oh, you don't believe inflation exists? Cost of living raises aren't given here? (Supporting team member happiness and excellence)
I notice a trend... Honestly, I could go on and on and fill out the details but since most people will just dismiss this email I should probably not put too much effort into it. I should have kept a blog…
Now the employees have lost a lot of their former power and the store is being sucked into some centralized monster. Quality is being thrown out in favour of the people at the top having to do a little less work. Competition is being destroyed and you're not even pushing that many healthy products. Every second endcap is potato chips or pop or some sort of salt filled snack (Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education). A lot of the stuff in Whole Body doesn't even work or has absolutely no credible evidence to back any claims up. You're kind a faux hippy Wal-Mart now. Great. Job.
How you haven't been fired by now is a massive mystery to, not just me, but many people. You probably belong in a psychiatric ward. If you didn't have such a constant negative impact on everyone around you I might just feel sorry for you. BUT, you've hurt too many people. You create a hostile work environment with your flashes of insane anger and passive (I hesitate to use the word passive...) aggressive behavior. Please, just leave and piss all over the patio at [REDACTED]'s again. Maybe [REDACTED] will help this time. Her childish, two-faced personality suits you quite well. The fact that you still have a job is also a massive failure by your department's leaders as well. I'd be ashamed of being such push-overs who refuse to support good people if I were them. Quite ashamed.
I don't think you could calm down enough and become a happy, tolerable person if you were to do yoga in a hot spring while high on ecstasy. Daily. For the rest of your life. Just wouldn't happen. I haven't met a single person working under you or who has worked under you who doesn't loath the way you treat people. Your job doesn't matter AT ALL. Get over it, relax and start treating people with a shred of respect. Chances are, you'll improve a lot of lives. Possibly even your own. I do have a suspicion that you're a sociopath though. Especially now, after seeing your reaction to you-know-who's hospital visit. If that is the case, this was futile. May I suggest some acting classes? You're not very good at pretending to be a complete, emotional, sincere human being.
You win a lot of awards in my book. Best at being a chauvinist. Least likely to realize he's about to walk into someone. Just another sign that shows how inconsiderate and egocentric you are. Or, if you do realize you're plowing through people... well, I won't get into that... Best at ruining the entire meat department vicinity by blasting terrible music. Do you ever think about the people around you? By the way, how did you manage to spit on the back hallway's floor with your head so far up your ass? I guess I can at least forgive you for never learning employee's names because of that. It's probably difficult to hear up there.
For the love of god, learn to respect women. You have no idea how insulting and aggravating it is to be around someone who is so condescending to all the women you work with. Stop calling them "mamma" don't refer to them as "beautiful"... for christs sake, just keep all pet names off the table. You are NOT complimenting women, you are being open about not knowing knowing their names, and lazy enough to not read a name-tag. Lazy, or you are just that self centered? You have no clue. Take notice of people around you. If you are dumping work on them without real communication we are going to think you are a dick. Take the holiday table for example. You have nothing to do with it, take credit for it and can barely remember the people who run it so smoothly. Who do you think you are?
You confuse the hell out of me. Sometimes you seem like a reasonable person and then sometimes you refuse to support your employees and in some cases even treat them quite terribly. Unfortunately, you've been hanging out mostly in Terrible Person territory lately. You're not welcome there! [REDACTED] owns it. You show little to no support for your team members and turn everything into a boy's club. You rant and bitch and moan to the wrong people, because it always get back to the people you rant and bitch and moan about. Quit rolling your eyes and let people speak. You might actually like and understand more of your employees this way. Respect your employees and the precious time that they are giving up to work for you. Perhaps take some time yourself and relearn the core values you are supposed to hold so dear. Stop taking your personal life out on everyone and have some compassion for the team members you disregard so much.
Your dot idea was a really, really stupid idea. Try to learn how an operation works before trying to "fix" it. All of your suggestions so far have been outdated, time consuming, poorly thought out nonsense. You aren't impressing anyone or increasing your chances of moving up in the company with these terrible attempts at seeming proactive and full of "ideas." You're just frustrating to work with. Also, I think you should stand a little further back from people when you talk to them.
We get it, we get it. You go to the gym. Nobody is impressed. In fact we all just laugh at your inferiority complex.
Stop being such a cowardly weiner, hiding behind your emails and that awful hallway grin. Try communicating with people under you. Face to face when it's possible. If you're overworked you need help. Especially if your lack of time is affecting other people's jobs and the store/company.
Dear [REDACTED]/[REDACTED]/Anyone else who visits our store,
Do you guys realize that the store NEVER looks as good as it does when you arrive? When word spreads that you're coming to inspect the store almost every team leader begins running around like Brampton teens on PCP. They whip their employees into a frenzy. They sweep anything under the bed that they think you won't like. They attempt to make the store look like nobody ever shops there. This stops us and them from doing actual productive work which in turn impacts sales and creates a lot of pointless stress. Then you arrive, hand out your almighty advice. The team leaders grovel at your feet and follow your advice. Then you leave and they put everything back the way it was. Undo a lot of what you suggested. Oh, I'm sure there are things happening that I don't see. But you really do waste a lot of time. Even making our efforts regressive sometimes. Meanwhile, if I'm awesomely efficient at my job and take a moment to chat with a fellow employee, I'm bitched at. Seems to me a costly double standard.
Consider checking some of the "stats" and "facts" used in your in store education. They're often faulty logic, myths, misconceptions and lies used by so-called "environmentalists". I agree we're currently destroying our environment and I'm quite liberal and all for natural living. But evidence and credible sources very often disagree with the propaganda spouted to us at Whole Foods. It's just a little too extreme and biased sometimes which I believe just discredits the environmentalist movement in general, sadly.
Dear everyone else,
As I've said above a few times: you work at a grocery store. Go ahead and relax. Also, Whole Foods will try to make you feel like they are doing you a huge favour by employing you. It's really a mutual agreement or transaction. Don't fall for the guilt trips. Call in sick if you need to, etc.. There are laws in place to stop them from taking advantage of you. And if you're thinking "This is just the way it is. Suck it up!". You're the biggest part of the problem. I'm afraid we can't be friends.
Just enjoy life. It's pretty short, you know?
[Photo of Whole Foods bag via pheaber/Flickr]