I have been noticing a real strange rash of retail stores doing extremely harsh and most times unwarranted firing. I don’t know why these events are taking place, but I have a small theory. Let me share what I have seen so far.


Holiday season is the busiest time of the year for any retail store. People who are looking for a new job or just a way to make some quick cash and a nice employee discount gravitate to retail stores this time of year. In this current economy, it might not be a bad idea to go and apply for a job at your favorite retail store. You can add to your holiday fund and, in some cases, get a nice employee discount at a place you would have shopped in anyhow. It’s a great idea, but something really strange is going on in retail stores.


Maybe because we all know that it is really hard to get fired from a retail store. Or at least it was that way in the 90’s. I remember I worked in a mall bookstore and this guy was totally stealing from the cash register. Everyone knew it, but he quit before he could get fired. I was stunned because I couldn’t get how that was possible. We knew this guy was stealing; yet we couldn’t fire him?



Now if you sneeze wrong in a retail store you can get fired.


This one store I worked in had the strangest policies I have ever seen in a work environment. If you were late three times, you were fired. Period. It didn’t matter if your car blew up and you were at the hospital. If your kid just threw up blood and you paused to clean off your shoe, which then caused you to be late, then you were late. Even if you called to say, “Hey, my doctor’s appoint is running late.” Get three of those and you were fired. There was never any room for unavoidable life factors.


Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, I saw people who should have been fired for outright stealing walk cleanly away from the job with stolen merchandise in their bags. Meanwhile, hard working and totally untrained people were getting fired because they didn’t understand the function of the store.


I guess the company got wise and started bringing the hand of God down on everyone. If you didn’t take your break because say, you covered for someone who missed a shift, you got written up. Managers weren’t allowed to leave the sales floor and if you were the only manager, you couldn’t take a break. Someone I know lost his or her job because they were never trained in the correct way to do things. Instead of giving this person a second chance to learn the proper way, they just said that the person was falsifying records and got fired.


Sure, they got someone new to take this person’s place. They paid that person less then the previous person. Oh yeah, that new person got fired too because one day, all the receiving machinery broke and this person was doing things by hand. Of course, the camera (which was there to catch thieves and trust me, by thieves I am talking about the employees) only saw this person sitting down. With no chance to explain, this person was let go.


I have some theories. One goes with the store trying to save money. Let’s fire these people, deny them unemployment and hire someone cheaper. The other theory is someone didn’t think the store manager was doing such a great job, so in order to get rid of the store manager; they needed to fire the others to prove inefficiency of the manager.


Maybe it was just a poorly run store and company. Or maybe there is something to firing employees to be more cost efficient.


I don’t know, but working in retail has become a bigger nightmare. I’m not too sure what geniuses these people are who are running the stores, but seriously, things are not going well. No one is really happy who works in retail, so do we really need to make it worse by imposing impossible rules and goals? In retail you work with the public and it seems like the employees are treated like scum. Yet, they are still required to smile and up sell everything and offer a million cards and free memberships (which are never free and just a scam).


The customers are treated way better then the employees and my theory is this: unhappy employees yield horrible results. You will loose more money when you treat your employees like crap. Sure, you might not see the results right away, but an unhappy employee has more friends then an unhappy customer. Also your unhappy employee used to shop in your store and, trust me, treat them like crap and they won’t be shopping there anymore or ever again.