My post drew an email response from someone who says they are a long-time Meijer employee. I'm reprinting parts of her email with her permission.
Last year 90 cashiers store wide were fired for being “too slow.” Some went into a group arbitration, it was just settled. The few that got their jobs back were sent to other lower paying jobs.The one Girl from our store worked for Meijer for over 25 years, she took an “early retirement”, which kept her pension intact, but she is only 46. She was full time, lives alone.She now works 2 jobs to pay her bills, one at Walmart. She was off over a year with 6 months unemployment. None of the workers that got their jobs back or this girl got any back pay.The last few months Meijer had suspended the 95% speed, but it started again last week, and they will begin writing us up again in a few weeks.We are all very stressed, not just because of the 95% speed minimum, but because Meijer averages ALL the stores together to get the “average.” Our store has outdated equipment, the registers are old, the scanners are old. The scales are built into the scanners and often “shut down” at least 5 times in an 8 hours shift. You have to reset them, which can take a few minutes, all while your timer is running. The Union does nothing but tell us to “write down” any problems you have in a notebook in case you get written up.
We also have other rules that are stressful.We do Punch in on the registers, which is fine., but they implemented a new discipline system with this. If you are 1 minute late in for day or for break, you get written up.After 3 times you are given a day off to decide if you want to “shape up”. Then when you come back you have to be on time for 9 months or you are fired! This is no joke.If we talk among ourselves, we get told not to.We have to “tuck in our shirts” or we are to be written up.We also have a “Cashier Dialogue” that we are supposed to say and tell each guest about a survey at the bottom of the receipt, or we will be written up.We HAVE to ask everyone under 40 for ID to buy cigarettes or alcohol. Even if it is a regular customer or a coworker that you have checked and know how old they are.If they catch you not entering the ID manually into the register, you will be written up. (they send fellow employees through the line that are under 40 to see if we check). Last week 2 people were written up.We are supposed to do this and be fast!Bottom Line… Meijer USED to be a fun place to work, now it's like going to jail for the day.We want to continue being friendly and helping customers, but we will be written up if we take the time to.
A second email from “Daisy” at Meijer continues… “Fastlanes” are the automated checkouts where one person oversees multiple checkout points (I'm sure you've all used them at grocery stores or Home Depot).
Now our Meijer store is on the kick AGAIN of taking away out floor mats at the Fastlanes! Every few months they take our floor mat away, we keep puttin it back and eventualy it dies down.
The cashier lanes have mats to stand on, but we are not supposed to stand at the cashier station (2 monitors with 10 lanes)!
The “big shot” corporate bosses caused this. (they have no idea how the Fastlanes even work from MY side).
Fastlane can NOT be run properly and smoothly without using the cashier station. In fact, when a NCR tech was in one day last year, he does NOT recommend over riding everything at the robot, as it was not designed for that. I have to go to each robot to hand enter ID for cigarettes and alcohol, so I don't have a lot of time to “loiter” at the cashier station anyway. All we want is a mat to rest our feet a few times an hour.
This is how Meijer treats their employees, like dogs. They are going to start writing up the “slow” people again soon, but have not done any improvements on the checkout lanes.
I bolded the part about management not understanding how the checkouts work. Sounds like Meijer leaders need to get to the “gemba” (the place where the actual work is done). It's easy (and often wrong) to make management pronouncements that are out of touch with reality if you don't see first hand what's going on.
Is your cashier cranky? Big Brother may be watching
Creepy monitoring systems undermine customer service.
Some large retailers are using “performance monitoring systems” that time cashiers to make sure they're checking out shoppers as fast and efficiently as they can. Some of the cashiers monitored this way don't dare smile at customers or even make eye contact for fear shoppers will start a conversation that will slow the checkout process and give the cashier a black mark. Even wishing shoppers “happy holidays” seems risky.
Well, that should make for a pleasant shopping experience.
USA Today asks a good question along the lines of something I also blogged about last year:
Is this really a smart strategy for brick-and-mortar retailers whose main advantage over online competition is personal service and the human touch? Or is it in the tradition of the management geniuses at Circuit City who fired 3,400 of their top-producing salespeople in a cost-cutting move that sped the company's descent into bankruptcy?
The comments on the USA Today article are worth reading too… one reads:
Having worked in retail, for over 35 years, the truth is now that the stores only care about the profit. Being friendly to the customer is a THING OF THE PAST. Lets fact the truth, RETAILERS HAVE STOPPED CARING FOR THE EMPLOYEE.
I'm just thankful that the people who are implementing these systems are not calling this “Lean.” Either way, it stinks and it's dehumanizing and it seems like a really short-sighted way to run a business. I'll go back to my online Christmas shopping now.
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