Voting on new employees

This WP article shares an interesting and rare practice from US grocery chain Whole Foods, that has me feeling a little conflicted:

New hires are voted in — or out — by their teams after their first 90 days at the company. A two-thirds majority is required to keep an employee on board.

The employees quoted like the system because:

  1. Existing employees can get rid of new coworkers who don’t pull their weight
  2. New hires get a sense of acceptance themselves because their coworkers have actively chosen to keep them

I’m torn on this. On the one hand I see obvious benefits but on the other hand I can also see some pitfalls. What if someone with a grudge against a new hire campaigns to get that person fired? What if employees see this as management abdicating their responsibility? What if a new hire who gets fired sees this as a rejection by his peers, rather than just a corporate decision?

Read the article and let me know what you think. Is this something you’d like to see introduced in your workplace?

UPDATE: Apparently the article may be explaining the practice wrong. Here’s a comment on reddit from a Whole Foods employee:

It doesn’t really work out as one might assume from the title of this post. No one is fired by vote. Feedback is collected on the new hire’s performance from all of the existing long term people on the team. It is shared with the new person and either his/her probation period is over or extended according to the performance ratings received by the fellow team members. WFM utilizes the same progressive discipline practices used at most large companies.

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2 thoughts on “Voting on new employees”

  1. On the positive side could be that employees already in the system feel a stronger urge to integrate a new team member since voting somebody out is probably unpleasant.
    While Whole Foods probably doesn’t have many places for most team members to hide, the employee who ingratiates upwards but is not a good team player is less likely to become a permanent fixture this way.
    Finally, nepotism exists everywhere, but this way even the proverbial nephew needs to pull his weight.

  2. I am glad of the clarification which makes the scheme less extreme than your presentation of it. Your concerns are entirely justified, and this seems to address them. The important thing is that the vote is not binary but tempered by the need for supporting evidence or a rationale for why you are voting the way you are.

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