Golden advice: Don’t squish the bread

Let me share something with you: I am very concerned with how fast-paced our society has been, and how this fast-paced lifestyle has been having an impact on our grocery shopping.

Let me get straight to the point. Smartphones are having an impact on who we hire in food retail stores.

Things are accelerating because of the technology. We now have machines replacing the youth in places like McDonald’s because machines often perform quicker operations. In grocery stores, the youth are replacing the elderly precisely for the same reason, I think.

These things are happening because the people are demanding efficiency. The problem is the people, not the retail stores, because of what I call technological conditioning. People are now conditioned to doing things quickly because the machine gives them feedback quickly … text messages, Instagram messages and so forth.

Let’s be real. People are more impatient today with slow-paced operations which I would argue is a side effect of living in a technopoly. You may be asking, “How do you know this?”

Here is my answer. If you go to any grocery story in Cleveland, most employees who bag groceries are young, sometimes very young. By the way, I would rather have an older person bagging my groceries than a college-aged kid because they typically take a little longer to bag my groceries to ensure that everything is OK. Youngsters are not as careful with arranging your groceries.

But hey, what would you have the management of a grocery store do? Hire “slower” employees and risk losing its clientele or hire youth, gaining speed but risking losing the client because of increased bagging errors? I would go with an older person, but that’s just me.

We live in the age of social media where a “dissatisfied customer/employee” literally has the power to do a lot of damage to a brand at anytime. It is not fair, in my opinion at least, to push any fragile segment of our working class out of a job because of technology. But hey, who said that life is fair? To me, such a move just isn’t ethical.

Grocery stores are in a tough situation, I must add.

Just because advances in technology are making our pace of life quicker doesn’t mean that we should accept such demands at face value. It isn’t right to replace a 69-year-old woman (who needs her job as a bagger in order to buy her prescription) because the bagging per second of an 18-year-old is 2.754 seconds quicker than hers.

I actually care about the elderly, you know? The elderly don’t deserve to be treated like the scrap of society after 70, especially if they need to work in order to survive. Let me say this again. The problem isn’t the grocery stores. The problem is that people demand efficiency because of technology.

Read this carefully: Sooner or later, you and/or your children will be 70. Would you like to be treated as a nobody, someone that wouldn’t be good enough to bag groceries? I understand the position that grocery stores have been placed in, but thankfully I have a solution. The solution may lie in training. With careful training in customer service, we could possibly fix this particular problem.

We can increase bagging efficiency by hiring kids, but I guarantee you that if millennials perceive that the organization is lacking social responsibility, it will backfire. The millennials hate this kind of mindset. How do I know that? Because my wife is an older millennial. If they perceive that you treat people poorly, they go. You suffer.

Grocery store managers, be cautious with replacing the elderly in your grocery store. We need to find jobs for them, despite issues of bagging efficiency. Be very careful with how you treat them. They deserve a job, and millennials are paying attention. Training is the answer.

Taking one for the team for the sake of humanity is the right thing to do.

It is true that computer systems perform faster than human labor, and that the youth often perform faster than the elderly, but this can have serious consequences to the well-being and longevity of your business in 2018.

——— (Published at the Cleveland Daily Banner 07/28/18

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

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