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Sunday, 31 August 2008

Taking the rise

Earlier this year I received a letter from our Head Office advising that the way in which my company pays its staff was being changed. The idea is to move away from one annual 'one size fits all' pay rise to performance related pay based on individual contributions. This was to be assessed via an annual review. Those who achieved a good score (of which I was one) would be awarded a 3 percent rise, those who did better got 4 percent, and those who did the best of all got 6 percent. We were told that these new rates would be effective from 24th August 2008. Since I got a 3 percent rise, this meant that my salary would go up from £5.53 to £5.73 per hour.

In the meantime, those whose performance was under par would not get a pay rise at all. Of course, in the small (or rather microscopic, print) it went on to say that there were certain exceptions. One of these being that if there was an increase in the minimum wage, which in October there will be, to guess what, £5.73 per hour! The good news is that in October, those who were awarded a rise will get another one, so that the minimum established rate for someone over 18 whose performance is satisfactory will be £5.90.

From the way that the letter was worded, I believed that the £5.90 would be effective immediately, and I would get 3 percent on top, since this seemed to be in the company's own words, the minimum established rate. I was bitterly disappointed on Monday to find that this is not the case, and the company is well and truly taking the rise.

The initial rise that I am getting seems pretty meaningless, since I would have got that in October regardless, when the minimum wage went up, so what is the point then of working hard? It seems that there is little incentive.

At least they are changing the bonus structure, from quarterly to monthly. I should then stand a much better chance of getting this, in theory at least. The trouble is, once we have a closing date, everything will be discounted (the public will be in there like a pack of vultures squabbling over the scraps), so we will be operating at a loss. With the way in which prices keep being dropped, and the margins falling, we have to work twice as hard to earn the same money anyway.

Our sales targets for the next few weeks are ridiculous - they expect us to bring in less money but with a higher profit margin. How are we supposed to do that? It seems to me that this company is being run by people with no business sense at all (see my later post about monkeys). Instead of cutting the prices like they have done, what they should be doing is offering better deals all round, like freebies with more expensive items over a certain price range. That is the way to pull the punters in and keep everyone happy, so that they get a good deal and we make enough money to survive and keep our jobs.

Of course no matter what they do I know that my store is closing - it is only a matter of when. I had my first taste of being a key holder on Thursday afternoon, since my Manager left early to celebrate his wedding anniversary (I do not get any more money for this either, which I think is taking the rise to a whole other level). There were one or two minor hiccups, but nothing I couldn't handle, and overall I think I did really well.

My Manager is off for 2 weeks holiday now, so we have a lady Manager coming to help us out. That should be interesting. The next few weeks will be pretty hectic, with me showing her the ropes. Most of the time it will just me and her together, although our weekend assistant may be able to do odd days here and there (he goes back to college next week), and we may be able to get some help from other stores as well.

These things were certainly sent to try us, and if it's true that they say, no rest for the wicked, I would love to know what I have done!

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