What are we teaching our young workers?

Young workers

Happy Workers?

My young friend of mine rang me last week all excited – she had been offered a full time job in a sports store in the city.

While she was thrilled she was a little bit upset because she would have to leave her current job, which was also in a sports store. She is a loyal creature, she liked working there, she had made good friends and it had been a real confidence booster for her.

Each week she was one of the best performers in the store, beating her weekly targets consistently and selling well above the other staff members.

So, why was she leaving ?

The store have one of these short sighted recession led policies of restricting  all staff members to just over 20 hours a week so that it would save money – I’m not sure if this was down to saving on breaks or savings due to PRSI class. Either way someone in the organisation set a policy of maximum hours per person to save money.

This money saving was deemed as being better for business than allowing your best people have the most hours – the difference in performance between the different sales staff was thousands of euros consistently each week. Who’s saving money?

Eventually my young friend was left quite demotivated, the penny dropped that no matter how well she performed it would make no difference to her hours or career prospects so she decided to shop for a better position.

Her very last experience with her existing employer was when she handed in her required two weeks notice. True to form she was punished and her hours were slashed in her last two weeks.

I have encouraged her to hold her head up high and to finish off her last days there professionally. Unfortunately she has been left a little disillusioned by one of her earliest work experiences in one of Ireland’s biggest retail chains. I know myself that all of these early experiences play a huge part in forming your attitude towards work and your employers.

What are we teaching our young workers?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

(p.s. I have written to them out of curiosity to see what they have to say)


This post was actually about my daughter. She started her new job in another sports store and can’t believe the difference it is. They look after their staff really well and from the very first minute she was made feel really welcome and appreciated.  She is lucky to find such an employer and thankfully she is now learning more positive “work lessons”.

I was really annoyed about how she was treated by Lifestyle Sports so I wrote to them hoping for a response but also hoping that they might take the lesson on board. I never received a response to the email that I sent. Maybe this is a reflection of the culture that exists there or maybe it is just a coincidence?

Email to Lifestyle Sports: (career@lifestylesports.com) – see copy below:

Hi ,

I am writing to you to both thank you and express my disappointment with you as an employer.

My daughter has worked with you for nearly two years in a Cork store and despite being one of the top performers in her store with her targets etc she has been held back to the minimum amount of hours each week.

I understand this is a policy to minimise costs – this is a foolish policy when the net result is employees that perform well getting disenchanted as they lose out on hours to other staff. These are foolish savings that are costing your business money and are also demotivating to staff. Too many accountants (I started off life as one) getting their way!

Eventually she managed to secure a full time job with a competitor where she is starting off soon. I was thrilled for her when she was offered the post but she was upset as she had built up a loyalty to Lifestyle Sports.

The last bitter pill was when she handed in her required two weeks’ notice and her store manager “punished” her by slashing her hours..

What kind of spirit are you nurturing? Not only have you really upset her in her last two weeks but you have also upset her colleagues that she works with.

She will freak out when she knows I wrote this as she is frightened she won’t get a good reference.

I trust you will not let this email affect her reference.

As I said at the outset ….. thank you for employing her for the last two years but please, please review your internal policies. You are getting rid of and demotivating performers and undermining the excellent training you give them.

I would like a response to my email.


Greg Canty

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23 Responses to “What are we teaching our young workers?”

  1. natasha lynch Says:

    what an interesting topic greg!

    would love to hear their response to you! Keep us posted!

    Some businesses dont realise that their strongest asset is their workforce! It is up to their employees to treat the customers with the time and care they deserve – and showing staff little respect? that will surely affect the performance of even the hardest of workers!

    well written!


  2. Hard Worker Says:

    Great post, thanks Greg! In my experience there is nothing more demotivating than feeling under appreciated in your job and the cap on working hours for good, hardworking employees reducing their income significantly is just that and it only increases turnover. The productivity from one motivated employee is greater than from two demotivated bodies who are just looking to do enough.

  3. irishminx Says:

    Your young friend did the right thing and it is her/his last employers loss and the new employers gain! 🙂

  4. Dermot Sullivan Says:

    Very interesting post Greg, I too would like to hear what the company have to say. Perhaps they cut the working hours uniformly so as not to discriminate against any individual worker.

    Maybe they thought that it would be less expensive to reduce everyones hours than make some people redundant. If your friend was “last in” maybe she would have been “first out” regardless of her sales ability.

    Employment law is a minefield for employers, I imagine that they took the route that seemed to imply the least hassle.

  5. Mark Drinan (@prfeen) Says:

    Greg, have you read fast food nation by Eric Schlosser ?

    Goes through how a certain fast food chain exploit the system by limiting hours

    Seems like It is common practice for many multinational chains

    Bottom line, loyalty is a myth

  6. audreymcsweeney Says:

    Another interesting read Greg! I can understand cutting back the hours as it’s prefereable than letting someone go. But they should have some incentive in place then to reward the high performers. And treating her in such a petty way over her last couple of weeks is very short sighted on their part. Cork is way too small to burn your bridges with anyone! Ever!!
    Looking forward to your next installment.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      good point Audrey – but with them its not a case of cutting hours of staff because there is not enough work but …. employing more at just the 20 hour mark to save money

  7. Suzanne Says:

    Sounds familiar! I’m aware of a store in Kerry that has lost 8 out of 23 of the workforce since January (including management) because of treating staff badly!

    • Greg Canty Says:

      what did the disruption and poor morale cost that business – the opposite …. a happy and motivated team. I wonder what the % difference in sales would be between one extreme and the other?

  8. Hugh Curran (@hughcurran) Says:

    Greg – interesting post. I think there is another side to this coin also in that there are many young people starting off in graduate positions or junior positions in medium to large companies and they’re being told how lucky they are to have a job. This is, of course, very true but I think alot of these young people are being pushed to work long hours and do whatever it takes to prove their worth. Could it be that in our obsession with squeezing ourselves as much as possible so that we don’t lose our jobs we’re teaching young people starting off that work is more important than personal time?

    I know work life balance is something that we all spoke about during the celtic tiger and obviously I understand that in tough economic times we all have to put that extra effort in but we all still need down time.

  9. Eoin O'Carroll Says:

    The alternative to cutting hours across the board is cutting jobs for a few. Is that a worse situation? Does cutting the hours instil a sense of solidarity; we’re all affected by this recession, we’re all in this together?

    It does seem that they have targets which can feed into a calibration process so they could make an affective decision for who should be made redundant.

    Neither are an easy decision to make and both need to be handled with care and tact. If you’re firing someone help them find a new job, situations change and they could benefit you in the future. If you’re cutting hours be honest with people about why and if there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    To be honest I think she is better off. She’s made a brave decision to find another job and her managers actions seem to be a bit of stab in the back for a high performing employee. At least she’ll learn from this that she is worth something, there are other employers that want her and value her skills. If she stayed whose to say the 20 would not become 15? Taking the step to leave will teach her that she does not have to be fearful of losing her job and that she’s not tied to the one employer. She’ll be able to maintain her healthy work attitude of doing her best and won’t feel trapped eventually doing something that makes her miserable. Fair play to her, good decision.

  10. Rickie Doherty Says:

    Another example of the morons running some of the largest companies out there. The management think that because they have MBA’s (have you ever heard of anyone who has failed a fee paying 25k mba?) etc they are untouchable intellects. The real shareholders are swamped by the same imbecilles running the pension funds etc. and are the ones getting the kicking as well as common sense.

  11. classicmarketingltd Says:

    Definitely a topic that needs highlighting. Thanks for that Greg! In todays economy, yes – money saving is important. Just as important as business and sales development to generate income. A good company culture can inspire employees to work harder and a happy salesperson creates a good customer experience. This in turn creates repeat business!

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