There are two great equalizers in America. The airport and Target. People from all walks of life shop at Target, and the company does a great job marketing itself as a middle ground between luxury and Walmart. It’s clean and presentable, but accessible and affordable. It’s everywhere, and its omnipresence makes it an integral part of American corporate culture. Boasting nearly 350,000 employees, Target is an enormous company. As is typical with corporations, the employee culture is pretty similar between stores. This means an employee in Los Angeles would have a lot of common experiences with an employee in Gary, Indiana. Because so many different kinds of people come to Target, employees are guaranteed to have some wild stories about their time with the company. There’s a lot of weight behind the familiar red-shirt-and-khakis that we’ve become too familiar with. What most Target customers don’t see is the careful planning that goes into creating their experience, and how this can affect employees on the retail and corporate level.
These are 15 behind the scenes rules and secrets that Target team members can attest to. While not everyone will get a chance to deal with alligators and Beyoncé, some of these run the gamut of employee experiences. Which one is the most surprising?
15 While Beyonce Can Surprise Employees At Target, Those Who Take Her Pic Risk Getting Canned
Beyoncé, peace be upon her, shops at Target just like all of us. Obviously, she doesn’t do it often because every time she does, it ends up on the news. Yet, she knows what it’s like to wander under the fluorescent track lights, poke her head into neat aisles, and rummage through a basket of lip balms. How should Target employees deal with celebrity clients?
Politely ask the paparazzi to leave and stay out of Bey’s way. Most importantly: no photos.
Don’t even think about it. Don’t take a selfie, don’t put it on Snapchat, don’t do it for the gram. Eons ago, when Beyoncé was shopping at Bergdorf Goodman’s, an employee snapped a photo and posted it on Twitter. Beyoncé complained and had the employee fired. While it seems harsh, respect for privacy isn’t too much to ask for.
14 Some Target Managers Ask Employees To Clock In 5 Minutes Early, And Showing Up On Time Is Being Late
Apparently, some employees hate their job so much they created a website for it. They paid for the URL, the hosting, all of it. One of the most common complaints from employees is the enforcement of the “5-minute rule”, by which being more than 5 minutes late constitutes a write-up. Some locations are strict enough to ask employees to be at their stations at their started time, meaning employees must arrive to work early in order to start on time.
That means if you need to be at the cash register at 8:00, you will be marked late if you clock in your shift at 8:02, and that could be grounds for coaching and termination.
Large companies like this operate on a meticulous schedule where timing like this is automated and even a small deviation can offset the system. Putting on that red shirt comes with a lot of responsibility.
13 Target Employees Had To Work After Hurricane Irma Despite No Water, AC, Or Electricity
When Hurricane Irma blew through America in the summer of 2017, it caused $65 billion in damages and 134 fatalities. One employee went online to vent that following Irma, their location opened in the immediate aftermath despite having no power or air conditioning.
Generators were used to power the registers and some lights, and most customers were buying things to repair damage to their homes.
Uh, yikes. Many people might be familiar with the Waffle House Index, an informal system of damage assessment used by FEMA to determine the state of an emergency in affected areas by seeing whether or not the Waffle House restaurants are closed. According to an interview by the Wall Street Journal, "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad. That's when you go to work.” Apparently, Target can be held to the same standard.
12 Managers Call Their Breaks "Meetings" And Get Paid While Regular Employees Don't
While low level and seasonal employees can be terminated for being late, whatever late means, management and upper-level employees with access to the payroll system are frequently accused of time theft by not clocking down during their breaks. Most workplaces that pay hourly advise employees to clock out during a meal break so that they won’t be compensated for time not spent working. One way managers might work around this is by labeling their lunch breaks as meetings.
Although dishonest, this can work in places where upper management is in on the jig.
Abusing the payroll system is unethical, but this is a common practice in many workplaces. Let’s just hope that the perpetrators don’t have to suffer the walk of shame for time theft.
11 Employees Are Given Unnecessary Tasks And Reprimanded For Making The Store Look Too Clean
The age-old adage “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean,” should come with a trigger warning. In the same vein of teachers being advised to not give students useless busy work to keep them occupied, many companies try to profit from downtime by having employees engage in useless or meaningless tasks in order to keep them on their feet. For some Target employees, being given unnecessary tasks prevents them from doing work that might be considered important, like keeping the store clean. For this employee, it seems like they’re struggling with a manager who has control issues, writing,
“But no. I got yelled at for picking up tissue paper from shoeboxes off the floor. I was reprimanded for taking the time to make sure things are actually where they are supposed to be.”
The employee also said she would be looking for a new job.
10 Part-Time And Seasonal Employees Don't Get Time Off For Funerals
For part-time and seasonal employees, time off for bereavement is but a dream. When the majority of your workforce consists of part-time workers, it’s pretty sketchy that the “benefit” of taking time to mourn should extend to everyone, but that’s not the case.
Many reviewers on Glassdoor, a website used by workers to review jobs and disclose salary information, is bursting with one-star reviews from part-time employees complaining that they were not given bereavement time.
Full-time employees, however, are entitled to 3 paid days. Bereavement is also divvied up to full-time employees based on their relationship with the deceased, with one reviewer stating that they give “3 days for family members, 1 day for close friends, and distant relatives.” If this is where you plan to find your summer job, just make sure to let your family know to avoid any surprises.
9 Target Owns And Operates A Forensics Lab That Can Investigate Sketchy Employees
As strange as it might seem, Target owns and operates its own forensics lab, accredited by the same body that certifies the majority of American crime labs. While they can use these labs to assist law enforcement in their CSI Criminal Minds Law & Order fantasy extravaganzas, Target also uses their lab to investigate corporate theft and online fraud, according to a report by The Atlantic.
This could mean “analyzing network activity to figure out which employee is siphoning off sensitive data to sell on the black market.”
That’s totally nuts. But what can they achieve by opening their own lab? Faster results than law enforcement can promise – and because it’s privatized, the results might actually be better. In saying that, when investigating internal issues, Target’s crime labs will generally cooperate with law enforcement. Maybe these guys are the ones behind the famous walk of shame.
8 Target Employees Weren't Always Allowed To Use Their Discount On Food If They're On Food Stamps
Food stamps are a sad situation for everyone involved but can play a vital role in ensuring people are able to properly feed themselves and their families. To qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, people have their income assessed by the government.
For many Target employees, food stamps are a daily reality as a result of minimum wage shift work that cannot guarantee stable income.
Until 2012, employees were not able to use their discount on food stamps, but the policy was changed due to the controversy it generated. Employees, however, now currently not able to use their discount on regular debit or credit cards and must hold a Target credit card in order to receive any kind of discount. Asking employees to open up a credit card account to access their benefits? Sketchy, if you ask me.
7 Cashiers Are Given A Letter Grade For Speed
Forget your ABCs. Target’s letter grade system is about G’s and R’s. If you’ve ever noticed your cashier at Target trying to bag your items as fast as humanly possible while maintaining a giant smile, it’s because their computer is timing their transaction speed.
Similar to how Starbucks and McDonalds drive-throughs time transactions, the same thing happens in Target on a smaller scale.
Business Insider investigated a viral blog post made by Target employee, Tom Grennell, who wrote about his first day working as a cashier. The post became so popular that he actually started a community site for Target employees. So what do the letters mean? G is green, which is good. Red means slow (but keeping with the acronym, why don’t we imagine it means ‘relaxed’). Business Insider explains that too many Rs can be pretty demoralizing, even if it’s the customer’s fault for proceeding slowly.
6 Target's Offices Assign Two People To One Job And Nothing Gets Done
Target’s corporate work culture is absolutely fascinating. Operating out of Minnesota, the heart of the American Midwest, it’s very common to know somebody or be somebody who works for Target’s corporate offices. Most people who work there like the environment a lot – how’s that for an employee secret?
However, because the work culture is very relaxed, the company generally staffs employees assuming they will only be working at 50% productivity.
In an article published by Gawker, an employee wrote, “In essence, they have 2 people doing a job that 1 person could do at another company because the rest of the time you're in meetings.”
The company places a lot of emphasis on employee activities and socialization, which the quoted employee says is basically just an excuse to not be working. To some people, this is probably great, but if you’re the kind of person who loves to get work done, it might be a nightmare. At least it's not Amazon.
5 Corporate Targeted Employees Aren't Promoted For Their Skills, But How Good They Are At Socializing
In the same vein as staffing corporate employees at 50% productivity, critics of the corporate work culture say that the company actually places too much emphasis on socializing to the detriment of career advancement.
The employee quoted by Gawker said,
“Target culture is very passive aggressive. They expect you to conform to them, to be ‘Targetized’ […] wanting to actually get your work done, asking questions and pushing back are all viewed as bad things.”
In essence, the faster method to a promotion is being popular. It’s very high school. The same article details how it’s difficult for outsiders to find their niche in the corporate offices, especially when they come from out of town. Not being used to the relaxed culture that emphasizes socializing and networking can be a stark adjustment from most other corporate environments, which is what makes Target’s so interesting.
4 Canadian Target Employees All Lost Their Jobs At The Same Time Then Target Fled The Country
Canadians might remember Target making a brief guest appearance in the country from 2013 to 2015. While Canadians were excited for Target to come into the country, as many had become acquainted with the store while visiting the US and hoped for an alternative to Walmart. the company didn’t make as big of a splash as they had hoped for.
In an article published by CBC, it is detailed how the company went from trying to execute crazy plans to closing totally in a matter of three months. 17,600 employees lost their jobs.
When the news broke, many customers found out about the closure before employees. "Within half an hour of it being on the news, we had customers coming in going, 'When’s it all going liquidation, when’s the sales start?’ Like, whoa, we just found out half an hour ago we’re losing our jobs,” an employee interviewed by the CBC explained. What a nightmare.
3 Target Institutes An Embarrassing Procedure For Employees Accused Of Stealing Involving Handcuffs
This is probably the most embarrassing thing on the entire planet. For employees suspected of stealing, company policy institutes a walk of shame in front of the entire store, often with handcuffs.
According to Business Insider, which interviewed six employees familiar with the practice, the act is meant to discourage employees from stealing.
One employee interviewed in the investigation was subject to the walk of shame, paraded through the store, and arrested by police who slammed him against the front window. Besides being ethically questionable, they also apprehended the wrong employee. Another employee was subject to the walk of shame for “time theft” after not clocking out during her breaks, “shattering her dreams of working for the corporate office.” Yikes! While it’s definitely not advisable to steal from your workplace, it’s pretty crazy that this practice is also allowed.
2 Target Employees Are Instructed To Ensure New Moms Have Privacy To Feed Their Babies
In what may have been a publicity stunt to increase positive opinions of the company, a leaked employee handbook via Daily Mail revealed that employees must be supportive of new mothers who need to feed their babies.
Employees are instructed to allow new mothers to feed their kids inside fitting room cabins, even if there’s a line, and to otherwise not approach feeding mothers in the store.
For new mothers, finding a time and place to feed their young babies can be a difficult task. It’s definitely not uncommon for mothers to find themselves at Target, either, so this is actually a really forward-thinking policy. According to the World Health Organization, natural feeding is preferable to bottle feeding. As this becomes more accepted, many states are changing their laws to allow the practice in public, with companies like Target following suit.
1 Employees Have Their Own Lingo And It's Pretty Intense
Target and Starbucks go together like peanut butter and pickles – an American classic. Besides the two companies’ wide appeal to America’s broad middle class, and besides sharing a lot of retail space, these companies have something else in common. Employee jargon that is incredibly confusing to outsiders.
According to a very comprehensive glossary compiled by a writer on TheBreakRoom, Target Talk ranges from acronyms to complex metaphors.
Spending most of your shift in the Hardlines? That’s the “55% of the store where merchandise besides clothing is sold.” Running around the Racetrack? That’s the main aisle around the perimeter of the store. One Spot? The cheap stuff near the front of the store. Like many companies, Target refers to its customers as “guests”. Why? Because Target is like a home welcoming you in. Cute.
References: Gawker.com, Glassdoor.com, Reddit.com, Dailymail.co.uk, Celebdirtylaundry.com