Working in retail this year has been significantly stressful for employees. With a pandemic at large and the stress of making sufficient funds, employees can often be left stressed and uncomfortable. A question arises, what can we, as employees and employers, expect and how can we overcome these challenges.
It is no secret that big businesses and small businesses have been impacted negatively within the last six months. However, even with the recent opening of retail stores, employees and employers are unfortunately not experiencing the easiest transition. For example, due to the recent transition to a mask wearing society, many customers get agitated and often put the employees in uncomfortable situations.
As a retail employee, there are now a lot of new itinerary that they need to keep in mind. As an employee it is important to keep the customers safe.
Here are a few rules to remember during this pandemic :
- Do not show up to work when sick, even if you think it is just a common cold. This way, the retail store stays open and the customers stay safe.
- Even though in retail you are not specifically handling food, it is important to not only wear a mask at all times, but to also wash your hands as frequently as possible. Remember to take use of the company’s hand sanitizer.
- Although we have heard this a million times, social distance. It is important to keep a reasonable space between the customers and the employee. It is almost important to keep a distance between employees and coworkers, at least as much as you can without stopping the flow of work
- As an employer/manager, it is imperative to make sure the employees have proper care. Keep hand sanitizer, tissues, and sanitizing products throughout the store for customer and employee use.
- Employees should remember to wipe down high traffic areas such as; doors, shelves, and cash registers. It is imperative to keep the store extra clean during COVID.
The next obstacle that an employee will face during COVID is customers that are not complying to company/state health regulations. There are a few things to know and ways to deal with this.
- The first step to dealing with any customer that is not wearing a mask, is to know your county’s, store’s, or city’s policies regarding in store rules. Some areas do not require masks and some are able to completely refuse service. Be sure to talk to your manager if you are unclear on procedures.
- It is hard to deal with customers who fail to follow policies, however when seeing a customer without a mask make sure to first ask if they have one. It really helps if your store provides masks for those who forgot to avoid angry customers.
- If a customer is refusing to wear a mask, in a store that requires them, it is important to politely refuse service. This is mainly because, by not asking them to leave, other customers are at high risk of exposure.
- As a retail worker, if a customer is refusing to leave the best thing to do is to calmly get the manager, this way there are no customers on employee verbal disputes or vice versa.
- Emotionally, violent customers can be discouraging and draining, however it is best to remember that the employee is only doing their job. Do not let this type of customer bring an employee down, otherwise work will feel dreadful and customer service with deplete. Always take a minute to step away alone if a situation was too intense or frustrating.
Possibly one of the hardest things that employees had to deal with in retail this past 6 months is a major downgrade in pay. This loss of income can be scary, especially in minimum wage jobs where you are already paid at lower costs. Being overwhelmed by this can cause an employee to feel lost and miss opportunities to continue making money. There are many ways to keep afloat during hours being cut or stores closing down
- Firstly, communication. If hours are cut make sure to always keep in touch with the manager. Express concerns about the scheduling and ask if there are extra shifts that can be picked up. This may not give a ton of extra hours, but it will still allow you to make some extra cash.
- Fortunately, there are a lot of resources for those who have been put out of work or are being underworked. Most notably, unemployment is significantly more flexible during COVID, by allowing employees to apply if they are under a certain paygrade.
- Now, what does an employer do if they are at risk of COVID during regular work hours? The FCRA allows paid sick leave for COVID related issues! Also, unemployment also works if you are gone from work for a certain period of time due to coronavirus
- It is also important to note that there are a lot of online job opportunities available while also working retail, until you can get stable pay and hours.
So, even with the stress of not being paid, there are reliable resources to help retailers get by. Just make sure to really try and access those, especially since COVID has and will be an ongoing issue.
In addition, as a retailer make sure to take care of yourself. Retail employees do risk their health by going to work during this virus and need time to really take care of themselves. Retailers should not let themselves get infected or over stressed! COVID has drastically changed the way that employers work, however with a little help from employers and some extra precaution, things can go a bit smoother. There is no guarantee when COVID will end and there are a lot of obstacles that retail employees will face, as a community we must learn to respect and take care of our essential workers.
It is imperative to research the effects of COVID and how to decrease your risk, be sure to avoid stores in any other areas if you are showing symptoms.