Target, the NFL and HR


Reading my favorite Monday Morning QB column yesterday,  I couldn’t help but find it interesting that Peter King had awarded Anthony Hardwick,  “Employee of the Week.” If you haven’t heard, Hardwick is the the Target employee who started an online petition asking Target to change their Black Friday hours.

For those of you not aware,  Peter King does not write about employment,  employees or labor issues unless it concerns the NFL,  but he does provide some occasional comments on hot topic issues. This has been a hot topic all week, it wasn’t just Peter King talking. The New York Times featured an opinion piece about Hardwick’s efforts and searching for Anthony Hardwick returns about 2.4 million results,  not all flattering of course.

Back in the good old days when I worked in retail (about eight years ago)  I didn’t have to go in on Thanksgiving Day,  instead I got to start at 8 AM on Black Friday,  still early but at least I could enjoy the holiday with my family.

The issue of holiday work hours is not something that is new or has recently bubbled to the surface.  No one  likes to work on or after a holiday,  especially when those hours start encroaching on the actual holiday.  Trust me,  there is almost no one shopping at the mall at 7 PM on Christmas Eve and almost no employee that wants to work that shift.

On the other hand,   companies need to make money,  to make money they have to be open for business.  This may include being open for business on days when most people are off (for example Saturday/Sunday/Black Friday).

What can HR do for employee’s and the company to make everyone happy on Black Friday? That’s a silly questions isn’t it? No one will be happy about the latest and greatest plan/policy put into place to handle scheduling on Black Friday.

What you should do is focus on making sure your company is not the one receiving 190,000 signatures protesting your business hours; I really don’t think that is the kind of attention you want.

So what can you do? I have a few suggestions,  take a look and tell me what you think.

1.  Do you have enough employee’s available to cover the hours you will be open as well as the prep time before opening (unloading trucks, setting up merchandise displays, etc;)?

2.  Along the same lines are you an attractive employer for seasonal/part time workers ? Do you offer merchandise discounts to seasonal employee’s or only to regular employee’s? If you don’t you may want to look into this.  I’ve heard from multiple people that are very willing to work even the worst schedules if they can get good discounts and/or  believe there is potential to become a regular employee.

3.  Do your employee’s know how to complain? Do they know where to go if they have questions or concerns about policies or strategy? Keeping a true open door policy means that you will have to hear the good and the bad employee suggestions,  still that’s better then seeing your employee’s complaining about your strategy on MSNBC or CNN.

4. Do you have a game plan when employee’s “go rogue?”  Do you think Target is doing the right thing by stepping cautiously here?  Or would you advocate a strict policy or plan of action if employee’s go over the heads of management or skip management entirely and takes their issue to the world?

5. Most of the coverage of this issue has been a cacophony of hysteria from both sides, ranging from opinion pieces about the decline of our culture to others saying that Hardwick should just be greatful he has a job. I don’t disagree with either side, I think if we really don’t want people to work on Thanksgiving day we shouldn’t go to the store and stand in line.  If the customer isn’t interested in buying a tv at 10 PM on Thanksgiving night,  the store wouldn’t be open.

What do you think? Do you think Hardwick and others should “suck it up?” or do you think Black Friday store hours are getting out of hand? Any suggestions to prevent employee’s from taking their grievances public?