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3 Benefits of Whole Foods’ Open Salaries


While some companies still cling to policies that bar employees from discussing their salaries, Whole Foods is one that actually allows and encourages you to peep your co-workers’ salaries. Even if you don’t want to disclose what you’re making (or not making) there are benefits to open salaries. Here are three.

Employees and coworkers

(Photo Credit: Chris Hunkeler/Flickr)

If you’re really curious about how much bacon your boss is bringing home, compared to how much you are not, the Internet is a handy-dandy tool for at least getting a general idea. In fact, you can get a rather clear picture of the salaries of most of your co-workers through various PayScale reports and tools. However, supermarket giant Whole Foods’ open salary policy not only encourages employees to look up salaries and bonuses of co-workers all the way up to the CEO, but also provides the information. And it seems there may be more benefits to providing the data than not.

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1. Promotes Competition

Much like rewarding the most productive employees for meeting sales goals or reaching certain milestones, sharing pay data can inspire and motivate employees to work harder to either catch up to or surpass those making more than they are. Sure the guy in the next office may have a fancier title, but actually seeing how much more that guy’s fancier title is worth, could be just enough push to get you there.

2. Provides a Map to Success

John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole foods, says he’s challenged all the time. As you can guess, employees constantly ask why someone else makes the amount of money they make. Rather than seeing these challenges as downfalls of open salary policies, Mackey uses them to focus on the performance and achievement required to reach those levels. If employees have a clear understanding of the path that is required to be as successful as the next person, they may be inspired and can rest easy knowing that they, too, can be that person.

3. Creates a Sense of Shared Fate

Whole Foods also requires that managers post detailed sales reports each day and regional sales numbers weekly as well as the profitability data of each chain’s location monthly. This data, along with open salaries, creates not only a sense of “we’re all in this together” – if the store fails, we all fail – but also a transparency, as there are no secrets. Anything you want to know regarding the company you work for, is provided and easily accessible.

Because of these policies, Whole Foods has claimed a highly motivated workforce that values productivity and community. Which, in the long run, may outweigh any benefits of keeping salaries and profit margins secret.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you agree with open salary policies? Why or why not? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Christina Majaski
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Great article! Salary transparency is definitely a concept that’s gaining more traction (although Whole Foods has done it for a while). It’s something that every new business should consider adopting. While this article lists 3 benefits of salary transparency, I’ve written a blog post that defines some cons as well. You can find it here:

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