A Shopping Disaster – The Retail Industry and Young Workers

Rebecca - The Student

Rebecca is from Singapore and is studying Marketing and Communications at Melbourne University. We call her our 'young person' and she's working with us part time to help us negotiate the world of social media and online communications, and in return she's discovering the joy of stats!

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2 Responses

  1. margot says:

    Rebecca, as an aged worker in the retail industry, I was very interested in “A Shopping Disaster – The Retail Industry and Young Workers.”

    I was employed 7 years ago by a large retail company, as a permanent part-timer. I was then 60 years of age and extremely lucky to get employment. Preference almost always goes to the 15-21 year olds, due to cheaper wages.

    When I started with this company, my ambition was to progress up the employment ladder, but employing youth always stood in my way. I clearly remember a 15 year old who had left school, was quickly employed and very soon became a supervisor on weekends.

    As you mention, most young workers are there for the pocket money, while pursuing higher studies. They are well educated and highly intelligent, but lack the motivation to work for the company in the same way that an employee, who is looking for promotion within the company for a career choice.

    The basic criteria for employment is, age (under 21) and availability. No particular interest in the products is required.

    Training is virtually zero, with a new employee being placed at the counter and learning from the person with whom they happen to be working that day. Discrepancies in procedure result from this ad hoc method of training.

    It is interesting to observe customer attitudes. I think many customers have come to accept staff shortages and the lack of personal service available. However there are others who are appalled at the lack of visible staff in our large store.

    Another interesting observation re-customers, is that if a young person gives excellent service, they are far more likely to receive positive comments from the customer.

    I am a great believer in giving people personal responsibilities and a chance to feel a sense of achievement e.g. put them in charge of a certain area of the store. It is a wonderful motivator, but that type of attitude is totally non-existent from upper management. Everything is dictated to disempower the workers. No wonder there are problems with service and attitude.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you for the great comment (and apologies for the late reply)! Personally, I think there are many other factors, as you mentioned, that affect the quality of customer service. Even the socio-economic and political climate of a country can change one’s attitude towards work. As a youth myself, I do agree that being given proper training and responsibilities are important to shaping our attitudes because it sets the “work-mood” and makes us feel like we have a place in the team and company. I don’t think age is very much the problem; but rather, how we are taught and learn to approach work.

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