Busting some myths about retail workers

It’s very easy to pick on retail employees for being lazy, slack and uncaring.  There are however, some myths which need busting.

Retail employees are mostly lazy slackers.  The reverse is actually true.  Many retail workers are in need of flexibility for school and other jobs and want to work hard.  The average age of retail workers is rising steadily as the service economy continues to shrink.  The reality is many people in office jobs or so-called “professional” careers simply couldn’t survive in retail.

Related: Journalist turns into retail associate

Retail employees can’t make it in other jobs.  Absolutely wrong and the worst sort of career prejudice there is.  Sadly, this prejudice  premeates hiring centers now, with many HR professionals sneering at retail associates looking for something else.  Many HR hiring managers admit they dont like hiring retail workers because they are considered either unreliable or unprofessional.  Many hiring managers even set their boolean searches to filter out applicants with retail backgrounds.  Sadly, many retail workers work harder because they are grateful to get a shot.  This is a glaring example of lazy HR hiring practices which hamstring good companies with poor hires.

Those surveys and email addresses sometimes decide an employee’s job.  Many employers are so married to emails and surveys that when numbers aren’t met, employees are written up and managers get fired for not meeting targets.  What is voluntary for customers can decide an employee’s fate that day.

One customer comment can’t do that much damage .  Personal story:  when i worked at Kinkos in 1997, I was up for a promotion.   A customer came in one night wanting me to demonstrate how to work a self service computer from start to finish, basically free tutoring.  I politely explained it was self service.  She filled out a comment card telling my manager “You need to get rid of John!”  My then district manager told me he could not promote someone who gets negative feedback.  It was my ONLY bad comment in 2 years.  So yes, those comments carry weight.

Retail managers wont give out hours so they can get a bonus. This is a myth because no retail manager who has the hours to spare hoards them.  Theyd rather spend the hours and enjoy some personal time.  Higher ups demand hour reductions and they have to follow the chain of command.  Besides, bonuses are not tied that way.

Retail associates dont care about you. Thats total crap.  Most retail workers genuinely like people and working with the public.  The problem is the fact that many customers with snotty attitudes wreck it for everyone else.  If you treat the person ringing up your stuff like crap or toss your purchase at them, expect a sour response.

Retail is a career for losers. Believe it or not, retail careers are often fast advancement with decent pay, but the hours grind.  Most retail managers work 14 hours a day, 6 days a week.  In fact, one “small box” chain is now reportedly forcing managers to work 6 day weeks for several months to offset cost overruns from a poorly planned merger.

Retail management doesnt care about customer service. Total bullshit.  management has to follow marching orders.  Walmart management are often given guidelines for what they can do, expected to do more with less, and sent draconian payroll “Best Practices” intended to pad the bottom line.  District Managers often cannibalize hours for favored  managers, and leave otherwise good people languishing.

3 thoughts on “Busting some myths about retail workers

  1. Regarding #1, you may want to rethink your thinking about ‘professional’ workers. I know at least three people who have been in office or professional positions who ‘survived’ being retail workers. You know them as well. Good workers can do well in retail.

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