For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a grocery store employee.
A state of emergency has just been declared. You arrive at the store 10 minutes before your 12pm shift behind the cash register. Although you’re early for your 8 hour shift, the parking lot is packed and it takes a bit longer to find a parking spot.
People get dropped off at the front of the store because there’s limited parking. Customers leave pushing carts completely full of water, non-perishables, and toilet paper.
You’ve never seen anything like this before.
On the way in, you sense uneasiness in the body language of shoppers. Everyone is more rushed than normal. As you clock in, you watch anxious customers hurry up and down the aisles adding items to their carts.
You make your way over to register #4 and see one of your co-workers who’s been trying to keep the shelves stocked.
“We ran out of hand soap and sanitizer in 20 minutes. We’re out of toilet paper. There’s barely any canned goods left, and I don’t know if we can keep up with demand.”
You’re not sure what to say since you just work at the register. So you tell her, “Let’s just be as helpful as possible and get through this.”
There’s a long line backed up at your register. It’s quiet at first, but people start asking questions about missing items.
“When are you gonna have hand sanitizer again?”
“What about the hand soap and toilet paper?”
You honestly don’t know. You pull out your phone and look up other places that might have these items. You’re just trying to help.
This goes on for the next 7 hours. You’ve never seen this amount of customers in one shift. There’s been a handful of rude customers, but you’re so busy, it’s an afterthought for now.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see the store manager quickly walking your way.
“Chris called out of work tonight. Please… could you just please stay at least 1 or 2 hours longer tonight?”
You’re visibly stressed now, but you agree to it because of the overall circumstances.
Just trying to help.
This represents the perspective of millions of service industry employees in the United States and abroad. Not just grocery store employees, but workers all over the country are doing their best to hold things together for the rest of us during this time.
Grocery stores and supermarkets, restaurants and hotels, healthcare, transportation, utility, emergency service personnel, and workers from dozens more industries are all working very hard to deliver the most helpful service they can.
Life has been altered for now, and many are in panic mode. The people at work to help us and serve us, especially during this time, deserve a great amount of appreciation.
As a leader, let your employees know how much you appreciate their hard work, long hours, and commitment to getting the job done no matter what. If you’re a consumer, when you see someone behind the register or talk to someone on the other end of the line, tell them thank you and wish them a good day.
To everyone in service industries across the US, from us at MyEmployees: Thank you for supporting the nation, and we sincerely appreciate your work!
For more great leadership tips, check out…
Improve Employee Retention with Coaching
Tips for Leadership Success: 12 Point To Do List to Become a Top 10% Manager (updated 7/7/20)
5 Keys to Fixing Communication Before You Lose Another Employee [Updated 6/29/20]
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