‘Apple’s Retail Staff are Second-Class Employees’
I was scrolling through Twitter last night when I came across a tweet with two names that I hadn’t expected to see together:
Mark Gurman quote tweeted my friend Matt Herbst? Something must have happened.
Indeed, it had. Matt had published a 10,000 word article detailing grievances that he and other staff have experienced in Apple Retail. They range from being passed over for promotions and serious struggles during the pandemic, to a severe lack of support and empathy from management, and much more.
Here’s but one of the quotes that got my blood boiling:
I wholeheartedly believed this was my chance to prove that I could apply my skills outside of retail and potentially lay the groundwork for a corporate role. Alas, that fantasy vanished before my eyes. Upon further discussion, my managers blocked my nomination for the Career Experience because I was declared “too vital to daily store operations.” Conversely, my other two coworkers were not retracted. They decided that because staff was already strained and I was the most competent employee of the three designated, they couldn’t afford to spare me. My coworkers were regarded as expendable, whereas I was not. Somehow because I had more Genius Bar experience, it was now inhibiting me from expanding my horizons. My managers had typecast me, useful for one purpose only. To be clear, I held neither of my coworkers in contempt. In fact, I was content to watch them succeed (one of whom was just offered a permanent corporate job after their Career Experience manager recommended them), but it was painfully arduous to come back to work after that. I resented the work I was doing because it didn’t seem like I was working towards something constructive anymore. Meanwhile, the overall store morale further decayed into an outright spiral.
At the end of the year, I finished a brief stint working as a Technical Specialist (part of the Genius Bar team) at the very Apple Store described in this article. In fact, Matt was the person who trained me in late summer. He was an excellent teacher and shared his years of experience with us newest hires.
Although I didn’t personally experience much of what Matt lays out in this well-written and documented memoir, I could definitely feel the tension he describes. It’s long, but well-worth your time to read in full.
I hope Apple will take the unrest in their retail arm seriously. If they don’t, the culture will continue to sour and they’ll keep losing incredible talents and evangelists, like Matt. Retail serves as the literal face of the Apple brand, and it’s too bad that they’re getting black eyes from internal management issues.