joreth (joreth) wrote,

Don't Take Out Your Dislike Of Self-Checkout On The Employees

So, as someone who works in retail, this graphic actually really bothers me.  I've seen this posted at least a dozen times in the last couple of weeks, and I'm getting tired of repeating myself, so I'm just going to post this here.

Retail employers do not hire more people based on the amount of work that needs to be done, they hire people based on the amount of money they bring in.

When the store calls for more cashiers to help manage long lines, that means that people who were assigned floor duty have to put their own floor duties on hold to come and ring up.  When the lines go down, our floor duties (namely, "go-backs" - putting away all the shit that customers leave lying all over the store or return at the register) are still there waiting for us, only now we have less time to complete our tasks - tasks which have continued to build up in our absence (it's not like people *stop* leaving shit all over the store when we go up to the registers).

Meanwhile, as all the floor people leave the floor to manage the registers, all the shoppers in the store looking for an employee to help them find something or ask a question are left bereft.  So this also hurts the other customers.

Making more work for us does not help us.  We don't get more help, we get less time to do more work.

I, for example, am required to help customers who come to my custom framing counter, while also building the frames before their due date, putting away go-backs for the 3 sections of the store closest to my counter, helping customers find things no matter where in the store they are located even if they're all the way across the store in departments that I don't know very well, come up and help at the register when the line gets too long, take out the trash, sweep the floor at night, and now I get to handle "buy online, pick up in store" orders because management decided to get in on this whole internet thing where people don't have the time to actually shop so they order stuff on our website and *we* have to play Personal Shopper and go pull everything for them so that they can just run in and pick it up.

They just keep adding to my duties, but not hiring more people.

If you want retail stores to hire more people, you have to give them more money.  If they have already put in automated registers, we have already lost that company - they do not want to hire more people and making more money will not change their mind at this point, it'll just justify their decision to install self-checkout registers.  You have to give money to companies who have ethical hiring practices and reward them for socially conscious decisions.

Look, you can feel irritated or resentful of companies who are investing in automation at the expense of hiring employees - thanks Capitalism!  You can also feel irritated or resentful at the idea of doing the "work" of an employee "for free".

But this all sounds a lot like the complaints of Oregonians freaking out about having to pump their own gas - the rest of the country pumps our own gas and have for years.  Some drivers have never even known a world where someone else pumps gas for us.  Most of the rest of us thought that the reaction in Oregon to losing their full service at gas stations was ridiculous, pampered, entitled, and elitist.

Maybe we were wrong.  Maybe we should be expecting companies to continue to provide people to do things for us.

Or maybe the entire system is fucked up, and we should be encouraging more automation alongside of better social safety nets so that we develop a culture where automation is sign of wealth and prosperity of the nation, not a complete abandonment of its people.

In the meantime, while we await this magical society that takes care of its people because we can afford to once we have all the robots to do all the jobs for us, giving low-paid, over-worked, menial employees more work to do is not the best form of support for us.  Our employers will not respond to the more work with more help.  They respond by insisting we meet the rising work demands with the staff we have with not even an increase in pay.

So you're not sending any message that anyone who can do anything about it will hear.  You're just making my day that much harder.

This post was originally posted at

This blog has been moved to due to the new Russian laws regarding LGBTQ content. The new blog will continue to cross-post to LiveJournal as long as the LJ blog still stands but comments at LJ have been disabled. Please update your RSS feeds for my new home.

Tags: freedom/politics, me manual, rants

Comments for this post were disabled by the author