What It's Like to Work at Target

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target jobs My name is Paul Rados, I'm 33 years old and I held an associate position at Target in Fairview Park, Ohio, from March 2010 through July 2010. I was originally hired to work in the snack bar, which at Target stores is referred to as "Food Avenue." This position, I quickly learned, was for classification purposes only, as I was immediately cross-trained to work in other areas, including cashier and stock.

My background is in food and beverage management, as well as food production. I was told in casual conversation later that I appeared to be overqualified for the position, but was hired because I was in school at Cuyahoga Community College, continuing my education in dietary management, and so was looking for part-time hours. Human resources chose to take a chance on me and offered me a position. I was scheduled for 32 hours per week, though I had asked for 24.


The corporate culture

I found the work culture at my location to be quite interesting. My work uniform consisted of a red shirt and khaki pants. This attire is standard throughout the company at all levels. Name tags are worn by all employees and display the employee's first name only. No job titles are listed making finding a person of authority very difficult for both a customer and new employees.

Another interesting fact was that we were all known by our first name and the first three letters of our last name. For example I was "Paul Rad." This was for personal security purposes. The majority of the management and management trainees working in our store were fresh out of college and very eager to buy into the corporate culture.

They conducted themselves in a very "by-the-book" manner, having had few real-life experiences when it came to conflict management. Because of management's insistence that we follow a standard protocol to resolve an issue (rather than using common sense), a customer's complaint often escalated into a larger problem -- which would inevitably wind up annoying customers even more. I found the lack experience from management to be frustrating at my location.

Meals and breaks were to be taken only in the employee break room. It was against policy for employees to leave the premises at any time during their scheduled work period. You are permitted to bring your own food and drink, but it all must be labeled with your name and the date. If your food / drink does not contain both pieces of information, including sealed cans of soda, the manager assigned to do refrigerator checks would discard it. Other options for meals include purchasing meals from stock in the store, or from the Food Avenue snack bar. No discounts for employee meals were given.


The good and the bad

Employees of Target are entitled to a 10-percent discount on all products at any Target location by showing an employee discount card. In order to utilize this discount, however, you may only use cash, check or a Target credit card as form of payment. A debit card or bank-issued credit card is not an acceptable form of payment for employees seeking a discount. Another benefit of working at Target is that direct deposit is available for all employees regardless of the number of hours worked, or their standing in the company.

I was very surprised to learn that at my store, management regularly used fear-based tactics, especially related to job loss, in order to elicit desired results. I did not feel this pressure personally due to the fact that I had applied and taken this job as a means to generate additional income for my family, and was not dependent on it for my family's survival. I did witness on multiple occasions members of the management team resorting to fear-based tactics if they felt quotas or goals would not be met, using the threat of job loss as a way to motivate employees to work harder or faster. This tactic was not reserved solely for newer employees. Employees who had worked at Target for nearly 10 years and even longtime employees over the age of 50 were being reminded on a daily basis they were expendable.

The turnover rate was indeed pretty high. In the four months I was there, 12 people that I had the opportunity to get to know either quit or were fired. Within a few days of an employee leaving there was usually a brand-new person to take their place. This includes a 54-year-old woman who had been with the company for nearly 10 years, who was let go because she wanted to cut back her hours to spend more time with her grandchildren. This woman was in the position of Team Leader, which is a non-management supervisor of staff.

Reasons given for the departure of employees were split down the middle between those fired and those who quit. Most of the reasoning for quitting, including my own, was sheer frustration with management. The jobs themselves are not all that demanding, nor do they require a large amount of brainpower.


A personal choice

My personal reason for choosing to leave the company involved an argument with my supervisor over the number of quarts in a gallon. I corrected her while mixing the liquid for the Icee machine, when she insisted there were two quarts in a gallon, while I respectfully told her there were four. I was informed I did not know what I was talking about and there were only two quarts in a gallon.

The discussion ended with me determining that working at Target was not necessarily a good idea for me, as I was unwilling to argue over or accept a standard unit of measure being different for the company than it was for the rest of the world. Also, I did not want to be responsible for putting out a bad product like the one my supervisor was mixing. I learned later on my situation and tenure at that location was not unique. Turnover does indeed seem to be high across Target's stores.

While I do believe working at Target was a mistake for me, I don't necessarily believe it is a bad company to work for overall. At my location I did have a very young and inexperienced management team. That fact played a very large role in my personal experience with the company. I feel that as a company they are in line with other large national retailers when it comes to benefits, pay and expectations. Working for Target may be right for some, but not for all.

Next: What It's Like to Work at Walmart

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