After record-breaking resignation rates in September, retailers continue to put their two weeks ahead of the holidays.
Workers told Insider they were traveling because of low pay, poor working conditions, lack of planning flexibility and pandemic burnout.
- “A lot of my friends are just tired of it, they don’t want to deal with the chaos,” an employee said of quitting before the holidays.
While the big layoff is shaking the retail industry, some employees are strategically seeking to stop it ahead of the busy Christmas shopping season.
Retailers who have recently left their jobs, or are otherwise seriously considering it, told Insider that they choose to resign for various reasons, including what they describe as low pay, poor working conditions, lack of planning flexibility and the coronavirus pandemic drive burnout. The departures come after a record number of more than 685,000 retailers resigned in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to the inherent stress factors for employees navigating a stream of shoppers during the hectic holiday season, many Americans still refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and avoid mask mandates, leaving frontline retailers exposed to the infectious Delta variant.
“Many of my friends are just tired of it, this is the first holiday after COVID lockdowns, and with anti-wax and anti-mask customers wanting to shop during the holidays, they do not want to deal with the chaos,” a Midwestern It told warehouse employee to Insider.
The employee, like the others who spoke to Insider for this story, did so on condition of anonymity with reference to fear of retaliation from current employers or risk of future opportunities. Their identities as well as their working status have been confirmed.
The layoffs also come amid a period of unrest that has sparked a wave of protests against companies ranging from John Deere to Kellogg’s during “Strike Tober”, which has continued into November, including an upcoming Black Friday strike that planned among Amazon workers in more than 20 countries.
“The pandemic has revealed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society and our planet,” wrote Make Amazon Pay in a list of claims shared on its website. “Amazon takes too much and gives too little back. It’s time to dump her and move on. ”
‘I’d rather put my efforts somewhere else’
For a California worker, her recent departure from a concert as a concierge at the mall marks the second time in the past year that she left a retail job prior to the holidays after first leaving her role as sales manager at Ann Taylor Loft in November 2020.
While telling Insider that the center’s concierge job had been an improvement – the primary reason she’s leaving has to do with a long commute caused by a recent move – she experienced similar struggles as her time with Ann Taylor, including low salary and planning issues. California’s minimum wage is $ US14 ($ AU19) per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.
“My manager is quite politically aware that everything is going on and she agreed that they are not paying enough, but that is really not in her control,” she told Insider. “There really is nothing she can do about it, but she understands that it’s hard to find people with the very small amount they pay.”
Rigidity around holiday planning – including the general practice in the retail industry of enforcing “black out periods” where staff are prohibited from taking time off during the Christmas shopping season – has also led many already tired workers to resign.
Among them is a saleswoman at a Vans store in Seattle who told Insider she recently put two weeks notice after hitting her head with management when she asked to take time off in January to visit her long-distance boyfriend, despite the fact that her request came. after the store’s designated blackout period in December.
The employee said the incident settled on her existing frustration and burnout, which stems from a recent period of over-planning. Although she was employed as a part-time employee for up to 25 hours a week, she recently said she has been asked to work up to 45 hours a week.
“Whose [management] can not recognize how hard we work for a store that is heavily understaffed, then I would rather put my efforts elsewhere, ”she told Insider.
Representatives of Ann Taylor and Vans did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
And while companies are hoping to retain workers and attract new talent using tactics like signing bonuses or increased salaries, some workers said that is simply not enough.
According to a recent report by Appcast, a software job advertising software company, warehousing and logistics is the only sector experiencing a boost in applications bound to offer signing bonuses. “The problem may be that when job ads mentioned signing bonus, it was probably the only benefit included in the ads,” Appcast wrote.
The warehouse worker from the Midwest told Insider that although he plans to stay in his job until the end of December to charge higher holiday pay, his goal is to stop before the start of the new year.
“I will wait until I get holiday pay, but I will definitely stop before New Year,” he said. “Nobody likes to work in the winter and I do not want to risk myself like last year just trying to get to work on snowy days. I’m in Illinois, so when it snows, some country roads are the last to be plowed. ”
In the end, the former concierge employee at the mall said she hopes the mass departure of retail workers will make a statement that has a lasting impact on improving working conditions for retail workers.
“I really hope something comes out of this,” she said. “We’ve never had more opportunities to change work culture, and I really hope we do not waste it.”