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It’s Never Easy to Be Retail Staff. Here’s Why

It’s Never Easy to Be Retail Staff. Here’s Why

At some point, many of us have worked (or still work) as retail staff. It’s a job like any other but with a lot of oddly specific challenges. Whether you work in a corner store, Starbucks, Tesco or an indie label music shop, dealing with the customers can be one of the most delightful and infuriating things you have ever experienced in life.

If you have ever stocked a shelf or manned a till, you can absolutely relate to the points mentioned below!

1. We can’t change the price for you.

We are mere employees. It’s the retail company or the manufacturer who sets the price. No matter how nice, flirty or angry your demands become we cannot quote you a new price out of the blue! But we can give you the head office’s number and you can try your luck in persuading somebody there.

2. We often have terrible schedules.

Have you ever heard of the “Clopening“? Well that’s a dreadful practice of having a closing shift and getting back to work the next morning (most often without being at home for more than 7 hours).  Most of us inevitably get those at least once a month, or once a week in the worst-case scenario. Sure, the rumors say it soon may become a thing of the past, but for now, we never really get a full weekend. And on those rare occasions we do, we try to get the max out of it and end up being even more exhausted.

All in all, we work 40+ hours per week, often put work over social life and are damned proud of what we do. Being a retail worker is a real job. Don’t ever tell us the opposite!

3. We don’t like telling you that your card was declined.

Yes, we often feel as awkward and embarrassed as you are and make that  “strange face” not to mock you, but to hide our feelings.

4. We know about your complaints to other workers.

Don’t you ever try to rat us out to other retail staff! It’s a game you are likely to lose. Think for a second, why would anyone throw friends under the bus for some demanding (and often rude) stranger? In fact, working in retail has taught me to be more patient, kind and tolerant towards your co-workers, as you often work with a very diverse group of people. Even that annoying girl who can’t stop complaining about the lack of love life can save your back on another day!

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5. We don’t know every single item in the store by heart.

If you approach us with something like: “Can you quote me a price of that silver fancy couch I’ve seen in your other store the other day?”, we probably won’t be able to help. Save everyone’s time and frustration by penning down the product code, brand or some less vague characteristics.

Can you imagine what it’s like to get through thousands of products that change monthly if you work in a big store?

6. We hate when you come five minutes before closing.

Yes, you’ve got a job with fixed working hours. But so do we! We want to help, but we anticipate you staying for over an hour after the closing time, meaning our seven hours of rest will turn into five.

7. We are okay with refunds, but it does not always mean you will get one.

No, it’s not that we don’t feel like giving you back the money or filling in return papers. It’s just that there are certain goods that cannot be returned according to numerous policies, e.g. undergarments (esp. worn!), gift cards, products that have obviously been in heavy use or those returned after the return policy warranty.

Spare everyone from making a scene before you have carefully read the return/refund policy. It’s always clearly outlined.

8. We are used to most of your usual “threats”.

Including: “I’ll shop somewhere else” (Okay. Good day!); “Let me speak to the manager!” (I wanted to speak to him for 3 days about my holiday too); “I will never come back” (but most probably you will). Being rude and aggressive will get you nowhere, really.

9. We hate add on sales, too.

But our job is to smile and offer you something totally irrelevant — like a nearly expired Aero bar — and explain what an amazing deal it is.

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10. We have certain issues when it comes to making a payment.

The worst-case scenarios include getting a mountain of change. Coins are money too, we get it. But it’s absolutely frustrating counting all of those when there are ten more impatient folks in line! “Can I pay part card/part cash?” is the most dreadful question in the world — especially when your sum is $15. Why do you need to make things so complicated for everyone?

And last, but not least — swiping your card or entering your pin code too early or too late, resulting in one huge mess at the payment stage.

11. We wish you would just ask us for a size.

Do you realize it takes just two seconds for us to bring you the right size? In contrast, it takes a good half an hour to refold all the sweaters in the pile you have just dug through. Don’t forget that it’s our job to clean up your mess and make sure the store looks nice at all times.

Make our lives easier by voicing out your request to dig through the piles for you.

12. We perfectly know the consumer law.

Probably, much better than you do — as not having certain items in stock is not a breach. Neither is refusing to issue you a refund without a receipt. Before showing off your great legal knowledge, make sure you know what you are talking about.

13. We don’t like unsupervised children.

It’s not that we don’t like kids in general. Most of us love them! It’s just that your little fellow left out with no attention potentially means a huge mess. You see, all major accidents at the shop usually involve a child, with their parents just two steps ahead glued to their phones or paying zero attention to what their child is up to.

Please, keep an eye on your child and hold their hand or do something to keep everyone out of harm’s way.

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14. We notice when you ruin an item with your makeup.

Please, be careful about getting your makeup on the garments. And if it happens, don’t try to score a discount because you’ve been careless. Secretly putting back an item and taking a clean one instead to purchase will not come unnoticed as well. Instead ask us about any tips of removing makeup. We now know plenty!

15. We can’t be in control of everything.

We are not in control of stock, but we can give you the head office number if you still want to inquire. Also, we can’t just give you something from the floor stock or an item the other customer has a hold on. Same goes with catalogues — we can’t guarantee the product will still be there when you come to shop for it.

It’s our job to sell you things, so we are not trying to fool you by saying the item is not available right now.

16. We do not size the products.

And no, we don’t know why size four is so tight. It’s okay to go up a size. Please, do not try to squeeze into a smaller one no matter what. We are being nice, not judgmental, when we offer our assistance in finding the right fit.

17. We hate when people leave things where they don’t belong.

Are you happy when somebody messes up your work desk? Exactly, we aren’t either! It takes just a few seconds to hand over an item you have no intention to buy, rather than place it somewhere random in the store. Don’t forget it’s our job to make the shop look neat and keep all things in order.

18. We try very hard to cater everyone, but…

We are not super humans. We cannot attend to everyone at once. If we did not approach you immediately, it doesn’t mean we are avoiding you or not doing our job properly. Most likely we are already dealing with other customers.

Please, keep patience and we’ll come back to you in just a few minutes.

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19. We have to greet everyone.

Yes, our smiles may seem somewhat fake as it’s part of our job. And saying hundreds of “hellos” a day is somewhat annoying. But please, don’t smirk at us and pretend you didn’t hear. That makes things even worse.

20. We are not therapists.

Yes, we can help you with a lot of things and give some advice…but only when it comes to the products we sell. We can’t listen to your personal problems for half an hour, especially when the conversation happens during peak hours or at the checkout.

21. We tell you our name for a reason.

Please, don’t forget it as it often results into such a great thing as “commissions” that help us pay the monthly bills.  Don’t make us regret helping you so zealously.

22. We dream of a normal life sometimes.

With a fixed nine to five schedule, usual weekends, breaks lasting over 30 min a day and less rude people to deal with on a daily basis. We want to be able to hang out with our friends in the evenings and spend more time with the children. We leave the house at six a.m. to return at midday, absolutely exhausted and able to do nothing except for roll right into bed.

23. We are humans too!

We try our best to be nice, helpful and cater for you in a timely manner. Please, be respectful and polite to us too! At the end of the day we are doing a job just like you do.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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