AUSTIN, Texas (Jan. 21, 2010) – FORTUNE magazine ranked Whole Foods Market®, the leading natural and organic foods supermarket, No. 18 on its 2010 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Thanks to its more than 50,000 Team Members (47,000 in the U.S.), the company has made the list consecutively for 13 years and is one of only 13 companies to be named as an “All Star” for making the list every year since the list’s inception.

FORTUNE cited last year’s company store growth resulting in additional job creation, salary cap limits for top earners, and robust health care plan among the key factors considered for its climb to the 18th spot after ranking No. 22 in 2009.

“We thank and congratulate our amazing Team Members for their commitment and dedication that has led to our continued success, and enabled us to once again be ranked on the ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list,” said Whole Foods Market CEO and co-founder John Mackey. “We are very happy about this achievement, and pleased to have opened 14 stores in the last year, creating job opportunities for more than 3,300 new Team Members despite a challenging economy.”

Whole Foods Market ranks sixth out of the 35 large companies on the “Best Companies” list. The natural and organic grocer was ranked among the top 13 most diverse of the 100 companies listed, with 45 percent of the workforce being minorities and 44 percent being women.

In the ranking’s “unusual perks” and benefits section, Whole Foods Market was cited as a company that goes “above and beyond,” due to its executive pay limits. The company limits top earner pay to 19 times the average hourly wage of $16.98, with CEO Mackey opting to draw a salary of $1 a year since 2007.

Company employees—called Team Members at Whole Foods Market—played an important role in determining the FORTUNE ranking.  Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on survey responses from at least 377 employees randomly selected from the company’s base of 46,245 U.S. Team Members.

“I love the idea that Whole Foods Market cares a lot about the happiness of their Team Members, because it is those happy Team Members who provide the best possible customer service,” said Team Member James McCaskill of West Hollywood, Calif. “Whole Foods Market always encourages Team Members to move up in the company.”

Benefits also contribute to Team Member satisfaction and job appreciation. Company benefits include a 20 percent Team Member store discount, health care coverage for domestic partners and a personal wellness account to help cover health-care expenses. Additionally, every three years Team Members select their benefits package through a company-wide vote.

“I love working for Whole Foods Market because you have a better chance of advancing and great benefits,” said Team Member Fatima Kone of New York. “I’ve worked for a lot of companies, and I have to say that this feels more like a family than a group of co-workers. Everyone gets credit for what they do, not just leadership.”

To pick the “100 Best Companies to Work For” each year, FORTUNE partners with Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work® Institute to conduct the most extensive employee survey in corporate America. Any company that is at least seven years old with more than 1,000 U.S. employees is eligible. In 2010, 343 companies responded to the 57-question survey.

A company’s score also is based on its responses to a “culture audit” questionnaire, which asks detailed questions about demographics, compensation and benefits, as well as open-ended questions on philosophy, communication and more. Information about what makes Whole Foods Market a special place to work was gathered from stores and regional leadership, with stories and pictures submitted by Team Members used to articulate the company mission, principles and work culture.

Whole Foods Market was one of 13 companies in Texas, and one of two headquartered in the Austin area, to make the list.

The “100 Best Companies to Work For” list and related stories will appear in the Feb. 8 issue of FORTUNE magazine, available on newsstands Monday, Jan. 25, and now at In the past 13 years, Whole Foods Market has earned the following rankings on the list:

  • 2010 – No. 18
  • 2009 – No. 22
  • 2008 – No. 16
  • 2007 – No. 5
  • 2006 – No. 15
  • 2005 – No. 30
  • 2004 – No. 47
  • 2003 – No.32
  • 2002 – No. 48
  • 2001 – No. 41
  • 2000 – No. 72
  • 1999 – No. 48
  • 1998 – No. 34