Sunday, November 18, 2012

My experience working at a 'Posh' Department Store: The PROS and CONS

I mentioned in my last post that I got a job, finally! ( ^  o ^ ) ~*  I've been with this job for few weeks so far and I've already got most of my opinion about it.  The working pace is fast moving in these higher end department stores so if you work enough, you learn the system quickly.

So I won't mention any store names because I'm a private person who doesn't like to give out super personal info.  Get used to it! lol

I don't want to get too wordy here.  It's an area of my writing style that I'm trying to improve.  NOTE: I WILL be ranting like crazy on the 'cons' topics so readers beware-!

Now for the pros and cons:


- Cool co-workers (...... At least, most of them are cool, really helpful, and overall fun to work with. xP  Having awesome co-workers can make ALL the difference in the world.  They make you actually ENJOY being at work and even wanting to stay longer at the end of the day!  lol  At least, in my case, this is true and I think it's kinda sick in a way, lmao.

- Paid vacation time

- Flexible online scheduling
(Can be a good and bad thing, depending on if you're one of those workers who decides to have limited hours and pick up your own shifts.  For example for workers who already have set schedules but want to pick up extra shifts, the full time workers get first pick, then part time workers, then the rest.  As you can see, depending where you are on the totem pole, you could end up with all the so called, "crappy shifts" which are probably just night shifts.  IMHO, I don't think closing shifts are all that bad and I have not heard too many bad things about this system yet.)

- Hour lunch (Again, can be a good and bad thing...)

- Paid break times (2 breaks, 15 min each)

- Company buys lunch (sometimes)

- The pay is fair, around $8/hr  (I know so many people b*tch and moan about 'low pay' and 'minimum wage' but "HELLO PEOPLE!!!?"  This is a job that requires almost ZERO experience to do and ZERO college education!!!  This is the 21st century which means that you'd better have a well thought out degree to attain your dream career!)

- You always have something to keep busy (You will rarely get bored and that makes time pass faster.)


- Few asshole co-workers (Hey, the world isn't perfect, lol.)

- High sales goals (These things SUCK balls.  If you think about the bright side of sales goals, sure, it's a goal that you can work toward which could channel positive energy.  But the DARK side of sales goals is much more prevalent.  In dire times, there can be few customers and SO many sales associates;  This can make workers start to feel resentment and bad feelings toward each other because of either some weird sale mishap that leads to others believing that you 'stole' their sale, or vice-verse.  I'm just saying that the competition can get fierce in retail turning the workplace into a dog eats dog world.  I don't think that's a healthy working environment to be in.  Workers should focus more on helping and supporting each other.  Setting high sales goals doesn't help in that aspect.)

- Attendance system (I believe that workers will have either a love or hate relationship with this system.  In our workplace, we start off with a minuscule number of attendance points.
  If a person has kids, this system will really suck for them because if their kid got sick for example, they could possibly lose a whole bunch of points and have only how many left or worse, have none left and their job would instantly be in jeopardy.  This same situation could apply to a college student who just can't seem to get their schedule in order [if they're a part-time/full-time employee and get a set schedule].  It's also extremely difficult to earn these points unless you happen to work on 'special days' where they give them out like candy.  But for a simple seasonal associate, a few points could be all they'll ever need.  Besides the limited attendance points, this system isn't all that bad because it actually weeds out the people who always come to work late, don't come to work at all, and just make life harder for everyone else.)

- Kinda shitty training system (I say 'kinda' because they do make you do this computer training program which is supposed to teach you how to operate the register BEFORE working.  But nothing on a computer or book could teach a person how to do something better than actually operating a real register on their own.  The training system is mainly shitty because newbie associates are 'thrown into the water without really learning how to swim'.  On my first day, I was given the task of putting clothes back onto the sales floor.  Sounds simple enough except I have absolutely NO idea of where everything goes so I take F-O-R-E-V-E-R trying to find where just one item is located.  As for my first time using the cash register system, well, I guess I'm pretty lucky that I'm somewhat computer savvy.  Others aren't so lucky.  

Back to my main reason on why the training system is quite terrible.  It's like the more 'seasoned' sales associates are responsible for these newbie associates which isn't so bad except! for the fact that we're also responsible for sticking to our SALES GOALIf a sales associate is busy training a new hire, how in the hell are they supposed to keep track of their sales goal?!  I know I hate, hate, HATE the high sales goal but that doesn't mean that I'm irresponsible enough to simply ignore it completely!  Today kind of sucked and NOT because I had to help one of my fellow associates, but because as a result of helping her and training her on how to use the register, I got quite the low percentage on my sales goal for the day.  I know that I truly WANT to ignore the whole sales goal thing but most times I can't seem to do that.  Your sales goal is like an evil monster stalking you from behind all day long.  And it's a real let down when you look at that piece of paper after clocking out with a low sales goal and how after all your hard work, it's like it didn't really amount to much...  I sort of wonder WHY the department supervisors aren't responsible for training new hires..  I mean, they don't even have a sales goal!!!  D:<
Hope you enjoyed my huge rant on the high sales goals the corporation puts on its associates when this subtopic was supposed to be about the crap training system, lol.)  
Now onto my next con.

- Favoritism (No matter what, I think that supervisors/managers WILL have favorites whether they decide to show it or not.  It's f**king Human nature....  But that's the deal, it depends on whether they SHOW it.  I see a few department supervisors in our area and they seem to like certain employees over others as I gauge how friendly they are to each employee.  I guess it's not that big of a deal unless we're talking about promotions, better shifts, and other things being given to certain 'favored' employees but not others who work just as hard
.  I don't really see what's going on with this since I honestly don't care about promotions or schedule changes in this job.)

- Too many responsibilities on top of sales goals (This usually annoys me ONLY when I'm so focused on my ridiculously high sales goal and here is why: 
As sales associates, we're responsible for walking around our department area doing these things:

1.) greeting customers
2.) asking if they need help with anything
3.) informing them of special sales
4.) trying to convince them why a store credit card will be a good thing for them 

So here is the problem in this particular situation: IF a sales associate is walking around telling people all about these special deals they can get, the associate can EASILY lose their potential customer to another associate and it's like all their hard work was for nothing, and why is this?...  It's because it did NOTHING to improve their sales goal for that day and sales goals seem to be the one and ONLY thing that matters in this business.

As for other responsibilities on top of sales goals, the sales associate is supposed to:

5.) check fitting rooms every hour if at all possible
6.) 'try' to pick up department phone after 3 rings
7.) get people to open store credit cards [and yes, there is a goal for that too]
8.) find items for people who request it either over the phone or in the store [this is only bad if you're very busy]
9.) make sure your area is clean and this means picking up dropped clothes hangers/clothes on the floor)

Overall, despite all my insane ranting about the cons of this job, I don't do it enough for it to drive me crazy (I'm sort of between part-time and full-time and I do get adequate days off)I'm also lucky enough to be in a store that's not monstrously busy all the time.  I'm simply listing my experiences from this kind of job and what people should expect when starting a job in retail, especially in a high end department store.  
It may look like rainbows and sunshine from a customer's or visitor's point of view but the reality of it is, sales associates, at least in these department stores, have to work hard but the work can be rewarding and even fun, depending on what you're doing or what kind of day you happen to be having.

I think that this kind of job is okay if you have rather limited hours to do this job each week because I can only imagine how a 40+ hour week of this type of work could drive a person quite mad.  If you're looking for something more down-low and with much lower stress, I would opt for a small shop or a mini food establishment.
I'm personally just grateful that I even have a job in this economy and happy that it keeps me busy and productive.  I also like the fact that I'm lucky enough to have very enjoyable and agreeable co-workers!   ( ^_^ ) 

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