Layoffs at Whole Foods

Whole Foods just laid off about 1500 employees, or 1.6% of the workforce. In an interview with Fortune, Co-CEO Walter Robb explained the company's growth strategy. A statement on the company's website describes the decision as a cost-cutting measure to reduce prices and invest in technology, and Robb outlines the plan for employees:

"This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treating affected Team Members in a caring and respectful manner. We have offered them several options including transition pay, a generous severance, or the opportunity to apply for other jobs. In addition, we will pay these Team Members in full over the next eight weeks as they decide which option to choose. We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace." 

Critics question how "generous" the severance is but admit that it's better than other retailers' beneifts. Mother Jones describes employees as "bitter," several have leaked their layoff letter.

  Whole Foods part 1

View Part 2 of the letter.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the layoff letter. Consider that it's an official document that employees are asked to sign.
  • How well does Robb explain the rationale for the layoffs? Read the company's statement and watch the Fortune interview to decide.