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Retailers: 5 Reasons Part-Time Employees Could Undermine Your Store

10 | 31 | 12

sabotage retailI read a disturbing article today in the New York Times about the trend of retailers and restaurants to limit hours of their part-time employees.

Are you one of them? If you are, this article is for you.

If you’re not but considering it, you need to read now too...

This trend is putting the employer in the smug position of expecting their part-time employees’ undying loyalty to their brand and at the same time their peak performance at every shift.

Employers are doing all of this to achieve savings of 3-4% and deliver it to the bottom line.

So instead of boosting part-timers’ hours for the holidays, they hire more part-time employees so the business can remain “flexible.”

And I’ll bet their loss prevention departments are being beefed up because of internal theft. (According to recent survey, on a per-case average, dishonest employees steal approximately 5.9 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($665.77 versus $113.30).

It isn’t brain surgery, you treat me like a dog, I’ll come back and bite you.

Managing your schedule based on demand is a bit backwards, isn’t it?

Maybe if you have poor salespeople – or clerks really – this might work, but do you know how much you are missing because your employees don’t feel they are treated fairly?

Yet I’ll bet those same employers expect employees to be loyal, to call in if they can’t work with advance notice, to help customers with a smile on their faces and be loyal to their brands.

But no self-respecting employee will deliver so much when they receive so little, so employee turnovers ratchet up and Operations Directors complain they can’t find good help.

The best retailers understand you skimp in one place, you’ll pay for it somewhere else...

Get the cheaper location and you’ll have to pay more to get people to come through the doors. Don’t invest in the latest inventory technologies and you’ll have more markdowns and merch sitting on your sales floor.

Likewise, you skimp on treating employees as humans, they’ll skimp on treating your customers as humans.

And how does that help you be profitable?

Look, what goes around comes around. Treat your employees like serfs and they’ll either chafe and steal or revolt by walking - leaving only the dregs to deliver your brand.

And as sales move southwards, you’ll tell yourself it’s “showrooming,” the “economic crisis,” or “government” when the finger points squarely back at your disrespect for other human beings.

Yes, computer programs can help deliver great information to manage labor. I have no problem if someone is scheduled 9-4 and the computer suggests they go home 15 minutes early to complete their shift. A good manager would have done that already.

Hamstringing managers with strict budgets and labor schedule programs based on past sales makes employees feel downtrodden and costs your business more than you save in labor.

The 5 Reasons Part-Time Employees Could Undermine Your Store

  1. An employee working under 20 hrs a week simply won’t be engaged enough with your brand or your store. They won’t know what a customers’ experience should be in your store.
  2. By limiting their hours and their training it leads to part-timers willing to be lackadaisical and even listless on the floor. With less exposure to the products, less chance to find out what works and doesn’t work, it pretty much assures a pointing finger to the general area where an item is located, or a shrug of the shoulders or a call for someone else – the higher paid manager- to try to help the customer, thus doubling the effective cost of answering a question.
  3. The less connected they are to the manager/brand, the more likely they will call in sick with no notice or leave with no notice. Wait ‘til the holidays to see how bad it can get.
  4. The lower the number of hours – especially if you won’t promote them - means they will feel “entitled” to steal. You’re kidding yourself if you think this isn’t true.
  5. When they don’t feel their efforts are appreciated, they are much more likely to suggest that customers go to a competitor, that the special “isn’t worth it,” or suggest going online or waiting for a sale. Why? Because they’ll feel appreciation from the customer for “telling them the truth” – even if it is at your own store’s peril.


If retail is indeed responsible for one in four jobs in America...

If showrooming is a real threat to brick and mortar retail sales...

If customers continue to be courted to use mobile devices...

Isn’t it time we treated and managed employees like the worthy human beings they are?


AUTHOR Bob Phibbs

Topics: Retail Sales

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