from Keith Anderson, London Metropolitan University
Sir; My daughter has given up the idea of pursuing a career in food retail and as far as I am concerned it’s the best decision she could have made. The article by Christine Hayhurst (Unzip a workplace zap, The Grocer, September 11, p72) about staff motivation rang so many bells.
For the past five years, I’ve watched in exasperation as the local branch of a large multiple has lost countless talented school leavers, students and full-timers due to the company’s seeming inability to give a monkey’s about staff morale.
Its ever-changing management seems to be in a permanent state of bafflement at why it’s left with the can’t-find-anything-else, too-lazy-to-look or just plain odd. Yes, the checkout girl on TV comedy The Fast Show is currently employed at our local branch.
As for its fascination with using psychometric tests for all levels of staff recruitment, the results beggar belief. The multiple has turned down, without interview, some delightful young people and employed others who’ll quite readily admit to colleagues to being unreliable and lazy and who blatantly don’t give a damn.
During the year since she graduated my daughter has been working full time in the local store where she had a part-time job throughout sixth form and during university vacations. She was popular, confident and good at her job and was seriously considering a career in food retail management.
However, the company seemed unable to recognise homegrown talent right under its nose.
Recently she was given a small promotion to a department in which she clearly had no interest.
With that came the expectation that she would work more than the regular 39 hours without being paid overtime, in addition to 5.45am starts and 10.45pm finishes - all for an extra 8p an hour on her already minimal wage. What an insult.
As she finished work there this week, her words should sound a warning to management everywhere: “I’m glad they gave me that promotion. They weren’t interested in what I might want from the job and I hated it so much it made me realise that the last thing I wanted was to work in a supermarket.”
My daughter will start her new career at the end of the month - with a substantial hike in salary, normal hours and real prospects. She will also get her life back. food science students need support
Sir; Reading recent correspondence, including that from Steve Latham (We must turn up appeal to graduates, The Grocer, July 31, p27), I am moved to support his view, but also to appeal for better help from the food industry for students reading food science and/or food technology.
In the modules I teach we have to rely on students getting support from the industry and from suppliers to obtain raw materials, packaging materials, and so on. In recent years, this seems increasingly difficult and many businesses do not even give the students the courtesy of a reply when they make enquiries. This is no way to ensure the supply of new graduates into the industry, nor to stimulate any enthusiasm for a career in the industry among the students themselves.
I would, however, like to thank those in the industry who have supported our students in the past and hope that they have benefited from the training they have received.