Remember when the general public was of the opinion that sales staff could be treated badly–just because salespeople took the payment at the end of the transaction? Almost every person who has worked in retail has one ‘biggie,’ a story of that nasty individual who felt entitled to mistreat him or her because they knew the person serving them would not risk ‘losing a customer.’ (This author has seen people quit on their first day because of some loser’s lousy attitude.) Fortunately, higher levels of retail business have started to realize there’s one thing worse than losing the (generally already) disgruntled customer: losing the otherwise loyal employee who doesn’t get paid enough to take the bad attitude, verbal abuse–and in rare cases, even physical abuse or harrassment.
For some time retailers have expected their staff to ‘deal with it,’ and go to ridiculous lengths to avoid offending people who came in with otherwise unacceptable behavior. Those days might not be quite over, but there are signs that times are changing. The posted, ‘Please be patient, we’re short on staff,’ kind of signs are slowly being replaced with, ‘Management does not tolerate abuse of any kind to its staff.’ It’s progress, but ignorant behavior never should have been tolerated in the first place.
The main reason for this change, at least in Western Canada, is that staff are becoming hard to find. The boom in the oil patch, which swallows up vast numbers of young people who would otherwise work in retail, is a major factor. Higher wages in other fields of work leave many local retailers struggling to find good employees. If those same employees find out they have to face ugly attitudes, they’re much quicker to leave than they would have been in the past. This makes keeping staff nearly as difficult as finding staff.
What do you put up with at your workplace? Would you stay if people repeatedly vented misdirected anger and frustration at you? So why should the salesperson or server at a cafe, restaurant or whatever? Do you wish to continue to be able to shop or go out for a meal where other people wait on you? Then be nice to your server or salesperson. Please. Especially if you see someone else treat them badly. It’s time for decency to prevail.
It’s not my usual category of writing, but it had to be said.
Thanks for reading.
Phyllis K Twombly
PS: The sequel to Been Blued goes in to the publisher this week. After that, I’ll announce the title.