A new article published by The New York Times criticises Apple for paying its retail staff low salaries, despite stressful working conditions and long shifts with no breaks. But the article does also highlight the loyalty of Apple’s staff, and the empowering training sessions that captivate the many twentysomething year old employees that land themselves a job at one of Apple’s Stores.
The article quotes Apple Store employee Jordan Golson, who claims to have sold about $750,000 worth of Apple products within his best three-month stretch last year. “I was earning $11.25 an hour,” he said. “Part of me was thinking, ‘This is great. I’m an Apple fan, the store is doing really well.’ But when you look at the amount of money the company is making and then you look at your paycheck, it’s kind of tough.”
The NYT report suggests that, although Apple pays its retail staff more than average pay, if you divide revenue by the total number of employees, last year each Apple Store employee brought in $473,000 for the company. But they’re paid about $25,000 per year.
“Even Apple, it seems, has recently decided it needs to pay its workers more,” reads the report. “Last week, four months after The New York Times first began inquiring about the wages of its store employees, the company started to inform some staff members that they would receive substantial raises. An Apple spokesman confirmed the raises but would not discuss their size, timing or impetus, nor who would earn them.”
A salesman in an Apple Store in San Francisco told NYT that he had been given a $19.5 per cent pay rise, significantly higher than last year. “My manager called me into his office and said, ‘Apple wants to show that it cares about its workers, an show that it knows how much value you add to the company, by offering a bigger raise than in previous years,’” Cory Moll told the newspaper.
But NYT continues to criticize Apple’s treatment of employees, highlighting that internal surveys at Apple Stores have found ‘surprising’ dissatisfaction levels, especially from the “geniuses”. In a statement to NYT, Apple said: “Thousands of incredibly talented professionals work behind the Genius Bar and deliver the best customer service in the world. The annual retention rate for Geniuses is almost 90 per cent, which is unheard of in the retail industry, and shows how passionate they are about their customers and their careers at Apple.”
The problem Apple Store employees face is that there is not much room to progress within the company. “There are only a handful of different jobs at Apple Stores and the most prestigious are invariably sought after by dozens of candidates. And a leap to the company headquarters is highly unusual,” says the NYT report.
On the plus side, employees have said that Apple is a strong name to have on a CV, and several former employees said that they had fond memories of the jobs.
But Groupon employee Kelly Jackson, who is a former technician at an Apple Store, told NYT: “When somebody left, you’d be really excited for them. It was sort of like, ‘Congratulations. You’ve done what everyone here wants to do.’”
The six page article goes on to talk about the “warm welcome” received by new Apple staff as they begin training, and describes why Apple made the decision not to give commission to employees in Apple Stores. “By minimizing the profit motive among employees, Apple does more than just filter out people interested primarily in money. It also reduced the number of middle-ages and older people on the payroll,” former managers told the NYT. “This isn’t about age discrimination, they said, so much as self-selection. Generally, an Apple employee is someone who can afford to live cheaply, is not bothered by the nonstop commotion of an Apple Store and is comfortable with technology.”
But Apple’s strict policies would quickly dampen employee’s enthusiasm. One told NYT that his training left him with a sense of ownership and pride, and he loved the job. But three years later, his store began an attendance system, which meant that four days off in a 90-day period would put their job at risk.
“It was a perfectly good idea,” the employee said. “But the thing that was terrible is that it didn’t matter why you couldn’t come to work. Even if you had a doctor document some medical condition, if you didn’t come to work, you got a point.”
Technicians often missed out on breaks because of nonstop customers too. But despite this there’s never a shortage of CVs at Apple.
It was The New York Times that first criticised Apple for mistreating its factory workers in a series of articles that caused controversy, and resulted in Fair Labour Association investigations at Foxconn factories in China.
To read the full, six page article from The New York Times, click here.