The holidays are fast approaching and with them come good food, family and friends and of course shopping! The holidays are a time of year that we all focus on what is truly important to us: Our loved ones. Unfortunately for those individuals who work in customer service this is not a luxury they are afforded.
My Father’s family relocated to Texas from Michigan this year to be closer to the rest of the family, who already resided here. This will be the first holiday season that I would have had the opportunity to send time with them in a very long time. I have been working in retail for over five years and normally, because I did not travel to see my family in Michigan, I would work the busiest day of the year…Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving.) This year however, I wanted to spend the holiday with my family, being that it will be their first Thanksgiving in the same state as me. Much to my dismay I was told that I would have to work on Black Friday and there were no exceptions, all employees in the company would be working and failure to show up would result in possible termination.
I found this “policy” to be absolutely absurd! Is it ethical or wise from a internal standpoint to require this type of commitment from EVERY employee? I can understand requiring management to work these mandatory shifts because they are paid more and have taken on the responsibility of management. They are able to gain leadership skills as well as benefits that the lonely employees do not. A great example would be the “contest” an unnamed company held last Christmas, rewarding the district managers with Christian Louboutin shoes for the work the lonely sales associate actually completed. As a matter of fact, all management were given “perks” during the holiday season and the sales associates, who do most of the labor and have most of the interaction with customers, received nothing.
Several stories I have read over the past few years as well as my own personal experience leads me to believe that retailers are not valuing their employees like they once did. This is a serious indicator that there has been a break in internal communications. The best way to ensure success is to ensure you have happy employees. With the dip in the economy affecting every aspect of American life, obviously the business of retail is one that is essential to the success of the country as well as individuals’ livelihood and must do what is necessary to stay afloat. However, at some point one must consider the ramification of sacrificing the well being and happiness of its employees, especially those who have spent years of their lives working for these corporations. Surely companies could cut back in other areas.
It would be my advice to these companies to show some appreciation to their employees’ who trade in their turkey time for folding clothes. Although Black Friday is the busiest retail day of the year, individuals should be hired to work these special occasions exclusively. Treating seasoned employees as moving bodies and not humans with loved one is unacceptable and will one day won’t be tolerated. The retail world should be careful before disgruntled employees are “Occupying the Malls.”