August 18, 2012
Apple Messes Up, Fesses Up With Retail Stores
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
When Apple makes a mistake, they´re always very good about fessing up to it.
Scratch that: When Apple believes there was a mistake to be made in the first place and that, somehow, they´ve made it, they´re very good about fessing up.
So, when MacRumors.com ran a story on Monday about possible significant layoffs of new hires at the Apple retail stores, many began to wonder what was going on down in Cupertino.
After all, Apple´s retail operations have been under fire recently, with the New York Times focusing the scrutiny of their “iEconomy” stories on those poor Blue Shirts, their pay and the way they´re treated by Apple Retail management.
Even more puzzling, Apple is almost certainly going to be releasing a new iPhone in the coming weeks. Normally, the company blacks out vacation during the first few weeks of a launch, making every employee available. Why would Apple begin to lay off employees just weeks before their busiest season?
On Thursday, Apple´s senior vice president of retail, John Browett, sent a message to all Apple Retail leadership teams. His message was simple: Be sure to tell your teams that “we messed up.”
Browett was brought in this April after Ron Johnson left Apple to try and revive JC Penny.
According to the note from Browett, Apple Retail had been experimenting with new staffing formulas which had apparently led to cut hours and understaffed retail stores. These new changes were in effect for a while before the company realized they simply weren´t working, and they eventually reverted back to the old system a few weeks ago, before MacRumors ran their story about supposed layoffs.
Browett also stressed in his communication to store employees that while shift schedules were affected, no one was laid off. In addition, Browett said Apple would start hiring new people to help alleviate the tension at these understaffed stores.
“Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet in a statement to Dow Jones.
“Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”
As a part of these changes, some employees had their hours cut so short they began to wonder if their jobs were in jeopardy or worse, if they´d be laid off soon. Part-time employees were hit the hardest by this failed staffing formula experiment. According to the Dow Jones report, one employee had reported losing an estimated $1000 in wages during this scheduling turmoil.
While Mr. Browett was likely an instant hit with some Apple Store employees when he increased retail employees´ pay by up to 25% this summer, this experience could have soured some employee´s view of their company. With a new iPhone on the way and a busy season imminent, hopefully Apple has their scheduling figured out, lest we have another China and Egg situation on our hands.