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General Suspicion and Unfair Privileges lead to a Toxic Working Environment

Don’t put your Employees under General Suspicion and Stop supporting a hierarchy in Retail Businesses

Have you ever been put under general suspicion? By putting employees under general suspicion you are creating a toxic working climate.

Right now I am freelancing for a few hours per day as a brand ambassador for Oculus Rift. Therefore I am visiting 3 times a week a Saturn store in Germany. Saturn is like Best Buy a consumer electronics store from Germany. Here is a short story of what I experienced yesterday.

Counterproductive Privileges

Yesterday I visited the Saturn Store in Oberhausen. The store is located in a very big shopping mall and so does it come that it has two separate doorways. One is directly connected to a parking garage. The other doorway is connected to the mall.
As I am always coming by car I used the entrance next to the parking ramp, who would not do so? This allows for parking the car less than one minute away from the entrance. When I met the security guard he told me otherwise. The store had a few rules for employees. You are only allowed to use the main entrance which is leading to the mall. You are not allowed to use the parking garage entrance.
As things turned out these rules are only for the usual staff. Senior staff is exempted from this rule.

I spoke to a few employees of the store about this ridiculous rule and it exposed the following facts. All shop assistants feel aggrieved due to the fact that they need to undergo a ridiculous security rule while the senior staff is not required to do so. Just for your information: the employees which I call senior staff are no executives. They are simply those who are working a little bit more on old computers. They maintain the databases or are responsible for shift scheduling. Tasks the shop assistants are completely able to do as well.
Employees are divided into two different classes without any obvious reason. Some enjoy privileges others don’t. This created – I experienced it on my own – a very counterproductive atmosphere. Shop assistants have a judgemental view about their “superiors” as they enjoy freedoms they don’t. They are treated as if they were worse and untrustworthy employees.

General Suspicion

In addition, I learned from the security guy that there is another rule in place in this store: Every low-ranked employee and freelancer needs to push the button of a random generator. Every now and then employees are controlled if they have stolen something.

In theory, this might sound like a usual procedure as a random generator is involved but it’s not that easy. Once again only low-ranked employees such as shop assistants are forced to undergo this procedure. This creates once more a segregation between senior employees and lower ranked employees like shop assistants or cashiers.

Is there an evidence that shop assistants are more likely to steal than higher ranked “department managers”? While department managers or other senior employees enjoy the freedom of no security control it is very easy for them to simply steal small things. I am not talking about goods but rather about auxiliaries like pens and paper.

The same rules for Everyone

I think you should never employ rules only for half of your employees. If you are using random security checks please introduce them to everyone. If you don’t put all employees on the same level this will lead to segregation, a lack of motivation, and a very toxic working atmosphere.

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