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Annie Lane: A question of working dumb hours

Dear Annie: I work in health and wellness for the largest retailer in the world. I love my job, but there are so many things I don’t understand.

Management is always on us about making money (which I understand), but no matter what we do, it is never enough. We reside in a depressed area and really do quite well for where we live.

With all the pressure management puts on us about sales and eliminating waste, our district manager demands that we work such wasteful hours. We are at the office until 8 in the evening even though no one comes in that late. I keep looking for something to do. We work from 12 to 5 on Sundays, and usually there are no customers — just people walking by asking, “Why are you working on a Sunday?” On Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and other holidays, we work from 9 to 6. It is not unusual to have customers who are on vacation and want trial contact lenses because theirs are ripped or lost. When we can’t give them what they want (we need a doctor’s permission to give out contacts), they become irate. Sometimes it gets intense. This is pretty much how the day goes — dealing with irate customers and getting no sales.

What can we do to let members of management know there are better ways to treat their employees and still save money? They simply will not listen. It’s typical top-down management. Things are good for those who are on top but frustrating for those who aren’t so far up the ladder.

— Love My Job but Just Don’t Understand

Dear LMJBJDU: Many companies today have wised up to the value of employee feedback and started conducting periodic reviews. If your employer does, take the opportunity to share your insights. Focus on what the company stands to gain by cutting back during low-traffic hours. Your case will be more convincing if you can offer some concrete examples — so the next time you’re working one of these shifts, take notes on sales, staffing, etc. Because it’s such a huge retailer with stores nationwide, there may be blanket policies that your managers have to follow even if they don’t make much sense at your location. But it’s worth at least proffering your two cents.

If management brushes you off and things continue not to change, it might be time to channel your frustration into filling out some job applications — preferably with smaller companies, where you might be able to play a bigger role.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.