What is a Grocery Team Member at Whole Foods? (including pay)


I loved working for Whole Foods Market and did for decades. But when you are first applying for jobs there, it’s not uncommon to ask yourself what is a grocery team member at Whole Foods?

Here’s what I know having been one in my early days:

A grocery team member would be called a grocery clerk at other grocery chains. They are responsible for stocking the aisles of canned and boxed goods, in addition to the frozen, bulk & dairy sections. It’s a physically demanding job, but like all positions at Whole Foods, also requires good customer service skills too.

But that only scratches the surface of that position. So let’s dig in a little further.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the world of what in other grocery chains would be called a grocery clerk or stocker. And we’ll look at what you can expect to be paid in that position.

But we’ll explore exactly what a grocery team member does at Whole Foods Market. And we’ll also look at how the position might differ from a grocery clerk at Kroger or Safeway.

Let’s get going!

What is a grocery team member?

Whole Foods Market, like most grocery stores, is divided into separate departments.

You can learn more about all the different departments in a grocery store in this recent article. I break each one down in terms of what they do, and if you’re not yet sure which department would be the best fit for you, take a moment and check out my article to figure that out.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

The Grocery Department is usually the largest department and is usually located in the center of the store. It’s comprised of all the aisles of canned and boxed goods. But Dairy, Frozen, and Bulk foods also fall under the Grocery Department.

Grocery store Team Members perform a variety of duties. But, most of them are related to customer service, stocking, and sanitation.

From the Whole Foods job description a Team Member performs “duties related to customer service, stocking, and sanitation in assigned department(s). All Whole Foods Market Retail jobs require ensuring a positive company image by providing courteous, friendly, and efficient service to customers and Team Members at all times.” source

Team Members need to be able to sell products.

Team members need to be able to answer customer questions about products. As a result, they need to have at least a basic knowledge of all of the products in their department. This is one of the biggest differences between Whole Foods and most so-called conventional grocery stores.

At Whole Foods Market, you’re much more likely to find a team member during the day, AND be able to get:

  • Product recommendations from them
  • Cooking tips/recipes
  • Have them walk you directly to the product you’re searching for (and not just saying it’s on aisle 11)

Team members also stock shelves and rotate products. This means they have to work long shifts on their feet and be able to lift up to 50 pounds.

Like most positions in a grocery store, grocery team members have to be available to work nights, weekends, and holidays as needed. Team members also need to be able to use tools and heavy equipment. This includes:

  • Box cutters
  • Electric pallet jacks
  • Cardboard compactors

How much does Whole Foods pay grocery team members?

According to its website, Whole Foods pays Team Members a starting rate of $15 per hour. And I chuckle since I started with Whole Foods Market at $4.25/hr back in 1988.

The current starting wage puts Whole Foods at one of the highest paying grocery stores that report starting wages. Costco also has a starting wage of $15 per hour and Target plans to raise its starting wage to $15 per hour by the end of 2020.

When looking into pay, you should look at the whole package. By “whole package” I mean pay, of course, but I also mean benefits. The following should all be taken into consideration when looking at whether to take a job:

  • Health insurance
  • Employee discounts
  • PTO (paid time off)

$15 per hour is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you have to shell out money for health insurance.

Not only does Whole Foods pay well, but they also have great benefits. They offer part-time employees insurance, paid time off, and an employee discount of 20-30%!

But you also have a career path here if you want it. Unlike some grocery chains, Whole Foods made it possible for me, without a college degree, to go from a starting wage of $4.25/hr to Store Team Leader (General Manager of a store) making 6 figures.

But Whole Foods isn’t the only game in town when it comes to well paid, well-compensated employees.

Just read this recent article to learn about what grocery stores pay the best. I also talk about what grocery stores provide benefits to part-time employees.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What does a grocery team member do at Whole Foods?

There are many positions at Whole Foods and at grocery stores in general. All grocery stores generally have the same positions, but the grocery team member position is unique to Whole Foods.

Grocery team members receive and prepare products to be stocked. That being said, the stores also have 1 or more receivers who unload the delivery trucks and help get products to the correct departments.

Grocery team members also maintain the grocery sales floor, backroom, and displays, and sell products. Essentially, they stock shelves and keep inventory in good order. They keep things neat, tidy, and stocked.

Like every other position in the store, they must be able to provide excellent customer service and generally have a good attitude.

It’s also worth pointing out that some grocery team members may work an overnight stocking shift or an early morning shift (4-5 am).

That’s because it’s WAY more efficient to stock groceries when customers aren’t in the store and you can bring pallets of products onto the aisles. The grocery team world is physical, fast-paced, but fun. It’s not for everyone, but the camaraderie is great.

The grocery team member isn’t the only position in the store, though.

Working in a grocery store is a team effort. There are department managers and assistant department managers, stock clerks, cashiers, custodians, and many more people that keep the store running.

To read more about the different positions in a supermarket, check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What skills do I need to be a grocery team member?

As a Store Team Leader (General Manager) at Whole Foods Market, I always repeated the mantra “hire for attitude, train for skill”.

By that I mean, I can train anyone to do almost any job in the store.

Some jobs will require more training than others (like being a butcher which I am not, nor am I qualified to train one). And some jobs might require certifications (like perhaps HR or forklift driving for the receiver). But in most cases, I can train anyone to stock groceries, cashier, or help customers.

What I CAN’T do is train people to have a good attitude.

If someone is naturally argumentative or has a chip on their shoulder about something from their past, there’s only so much I, as their leader, can do to help them.

In other cases, sometimes people just see themselves as a victim of life and are constantly creating situations to justify those feelings. I can tell these people to be nice, smile, not argue with everyone, or not make their co-workers uncomfortable.

Like an alcoholic who gets that moment of clarity, they have to recognize they have a problem, and take the necessary steps to fix it; I can’t do that for them.

But at the end of the day, all I can really do is make expectations clear, and hold them accountable when they fail to meet the expectations. The other thing I used as a mantra was “firm, fair, and consistent“. 

Meaning that in terms of disciplining someone, your world gets way easier and you earn the respect of everyone (often including those who get disciplined), when the same standards apply to everyone, including yourself.

Dealing with customers is sometimes a challenge, so a positive attitude and the ability to listen and stay calm, cool, and collected is essential.

So the best skills to have to work in a grocery store, in any position, are:

  • A positive attitude
  • Show up on time
  • An eye for detail
  • Only call out sick on very rare occasions when you are really sick
  • Being flexible on what days and hours you can work
  • Excellent follow-through
  • The willingness to do any job that is needed even if it’s not “technically” part of your job description

If you bring those things to the job, I can train you on anything else and you’ll be an outstanding employee.

If you have these skills, you are already qualified to work as a grocery team member or any position at Whole Foods. Or any other grocery store for that matter.

So, you have the skills, but how do you get the job?

Luckily, I wrote this recent article packed with advice and tips on how to get a job at a grocery store.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do all grocery team members work overnight?

No.

In fact, they have separate job listings for “Overnight Team Members.” source

So while you may be required to work nights and weekends, you probably won’t be required to work overnight.

However, if you are occasionally asked to work an overnight shift, you should if you are able. By saying yes more than you say no when asked to help out, you are proving that you are a team player.

You are demonstrating that you have a good work ethic and will likely stand out to your managers when the time comes for promotion.

If you are a grocery team member, chances are that you won’t want to work that same position forever. Your next step may be to move departments, but it may also be to move into a leadership role within the grocery department.

Department managers are responsible for running their department.

They train and lead employees, order and stock products, and manage inventory. Grocery store managers are responsible for all aspects of running a grocery store. Grocery Team Leader is a great job and one I did for almost 8 years at 3 different locations. I was also recognized with a National All-Star award for being a Grocery Team Leader.

I wrote this recent article that talks about this busy, complicated, but awesome job.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Did I answer everything you want to know about being a grocery team member at Whole Foods?

In this article, we took an in-depth look at being a grocery team member at Whole Foods.

We looked at what a grocery team member does, how much they get paid, and what skills are necessary to be a successful grocery team member.

Being a grocery team member at Whole Foods can be a great opportunity. You will be a part of a team that is held to high standards with lots of opportunity for growth. 

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades. I worked in 9 stores in 4 states, not counting the hundred-plus stores I've assisted in other ways. I was a Global All-Star, a Gold Pen Winner, and won Top-10 Store (company-wide) 3 times in addition to Best New Store (company-wide).

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