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How Much Do You Make?

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.

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