“What are the odds your software is going to change?”[David] Cook asked in a jovial blare. “Oh, 100 percent. It’s going to be around for 10 years. You’re going to have to modify it more times than you can imagine. You’re gonna have to change it for different hardware and software environments, change languages three times, and go through four personnel turnovers. What you have to do is fight as hard as you can to keep quality up so that ten years from now you have something left.
“It’s like, when you grab the software that’s in your hands, it’s sand. And as you stand here doing the best you can, sand starts leaking between your fingers. Ten years from now there’s a few grains of sand left, and that’s all you have to work with. Your job is to keep your hands as tight as possible.”
From page 259 of Scott Rosenberg’s “Dreaming in Code.”
This piece from FastCompany.com talks about what would happen at a company if everyone knew what everyone else made. I’ve had that conversation a number of times, but I didn’t know of any company that had actually done it until I read that article: Whole Foods lets any employee see what any other employee makes.
“Our books are open to our Team Members, including our annual individual compensation report.”
There it is in their Core Values, plain as day. Another interesting bit from their Core Values:
We recognize there is a community of interest among all of our stakeholders. There are no entitlements; we share together in our collective fate. To that end we have a salary cap that limits the compensation (wages plus profit incentive bonuses) of any Team Member to nineteen times the average total compensation of all full-time Team Members in the company.
A quick look at Whole Foods over at Yahoo Finance says that their highest paid exec made $371,000 of pay (salary + bonuses). If that’s the high end of the “19 times average total compensation” figure then the average full time Whole Foods employee makes $19,500. That works out to about $9.39 per hour, assuming 52 forty-hour work weeks per year.
Is that a lot of money for a grocery store employee? I don’t know, I’ve never worked in a grocery store.
But I do know this: I shop at Whole Foods a lot, and I am almost always struck by how happy their employees seem. The girl at the register seems to be enjoying her job as she chats with customers and coworkers. The folks in the wine and beer sections are excited to help me track down a particular beverage, and seem as satisfied as I am when they find it. The gelato guy really wants to know what I think about the new mint-pineapple-ginger flavor.
Does the company’s openness about compensation make their employees any happier? I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look like it hurts.