Fresh employees

As the school bells rang for the last time before summer holidays, many young people will be happy to start their first job. It’s an exciting time.

Under provincial legislation, those young people are owed an explanation of the workplace and its processes to ensure their safety. It’s worth a chat with mom and dad on the perils of some workplaces, whether about using equipment safely or simply knowing what to do in an emergency. Far too often News arrives about avoidable accidents – so with a little effort, that sadness can be avoided.

We have long believed that young people are owed the chance to have a good work experience. Often what we learn at our first job plots future successes and conversely failures. A good work ethic certainly starts at home, but when away from mom and dad it is quite easy to settle into a workplace groove.

While it would be easy to go on a rant we have purposely chosen to offer some positive ideas about first jobs and the onus on adults and managers to guide young people. We have noted with increasing regularity, mostly in large retail operations, the indifference with which customers are greeted and given service. Poor customer service has been the bane of many a manager or small business owner but despite knowing that, we question how often new employees are coached on what makes customer interaction great.

Product knowledge, an enthusiastic smile and listening skills are all pluses that turn unhappy customers or curious customers into loyal customers. Engaging customers in conversation to determine their needs is awesome, and in time, leads to dealing efficiently with people rather than curtly. Experience is one of the best teachers.

On a recent shopping excursion we had a special moment with a fellow shopper. It resulted in one of those all knowing eye exchanges and both of us smiling at each other.

Of course, the two young people, one running the cash register and the other bagging were oblivious to the humorous exchange of two customers standing in front of them.

In the space of minutes, we learned about their weekend plans, the fact one was new to town and was going home for the summer with her boyfriend.

Although the purchases were processed and bagged in a relatively efficient manner, neither customer needed a voyeur’s view of their personal lives.

Months ago we experienced a similar situation except the other customer was an elderly woman with zero patience that day.

In a matter of seconds the two young ladies received an education about customer service, and after she left they were quite upset about being dressed down.

Had a manager or co-worker or parent spent a bit of time explaining workplace etiquette to them, they would have been spared such an experience.

There are times too when there is more concern about getting to break time rather than providing customer experience. Most of us can remember late nights and getting to work a bit on the tired side, but that leaves no excuse for yawning or telling a customer and co-worker how tired they are.

That’s why we think it is important for parents and those of us who have had experiences dealing with people to train and to help get young people off to a good start.