Finding employment is one of the benchmarks of any person's life, and a job or training experience can be very rewarding, or it can be one of the worst events in a young life. The power of a work experience should not be underestimated especially when it comes early in one's working life. Since, work is a seminal part of a person's life, and a stark dividing line between childhood and adulthood, an individual needs to examine every youthful experience so that they can have better ones in the future. The importance then in the issues that occur at work is that they can be stepping stones to real solutions later on in a working life, or they can become progenitors of bitter feelings about work in general.
The focus should be on learning from experiences, but sometimes this is not possible. Many people start at a job in retail or fast food, that is a great first job because of the employee has to learn to deal with customers, but can lead to a negative view of the workforce. An employer should offer adequate training to prepare its employees for the experiences that they are going to have in the workforce, so they can gain positive outcomes from even the most, seemingly, negative events. This paper outlines some of the negative and positive personal experiences gained while learning in the workforce, what training should have occurred and did occur, and what youthful employees can do to gain experiences that will serve them throughout a working life.
Any employee will remember what has happened to them at a job that had negative consequences either because of some sort of personal error, or due to a customer who was unreasonable. The early scenario of working in a restaurant is probably the one of the most common, and that type of work is fraught with possible negative occurrences. Some of the incidents described, in a general way here, are as a result of customer interaction and some have to do with errors caused by the employee.
Cashiers in a fast food restaurant take the brunt of customer displeasure, and they also receive the lion's share of the complaints. When working in this situation it is necessary to make sure that one has been trained, either formally or informally, as to what they can expect from the people that they will face. Customers often are in a bad mood when they come to a food counter because of what they have experienced during the day, and this will spill into their interaction with the food service personnel. The reason for this is that the food service worker is anonymous to them, even if they have a nametag, which makes it okay, though socially inappropriate, to berate the individual for even the slightest wrong (Ahl, 2008). Though most people try to remain civil when they are dealing with any other individual, there are times when civility just disappears. At these times, the server or cashier is likely to experience the force of a negative attitude.
A cashier, at a fast food restaurant, is most often tasked with providing the diner with their beverage cup, and a tray with their mean on it. Sometimes, things have gone wrong in the kitchen and there is something wrong with the meal that the server has no control over. However, that server is often the person who is charged with the mistake. Such as product that is overcooked (or burnt), food that is undercooked, or use of ingredients that are not the freshest. Diners who are already predisposed to having a bad experience are more likely to complain about even the most minor imperfections in the preparation of their food, so the server is more likely to get an unsatisfactory reaction from this type of person. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to disciplinary action if the manager at the time feels that the customer's complaint, for something that they could not control, was warranted.
Customers will also make accusations against their servers and cashiers that are completely unnecessary simply due to deviltry. This often occurs when the customer is young and trying to impress someone else. A time-worn example of this type of behavior is the comedic "I have a fly in my soup" (Willis, 1977, 79). Of course fly may actually be there, but it is difficult to determine if the fly was placed in the soup by the customer, or if it actually fell in sometime during the preparation or delivery process. Whatever the actual cause, the server or cashier often is deemed responsible for the infraction and made to mend it for the customer. This type of experience is also common because it seems that people will often try to take advantage of a situation. Unfortunately, a scenario like this rarely comes up in training scenarios. Managers are likely to say that when this happens, just give the customer what they want and appear pleasant. The company is not out very much money and they would rather have the customer return and spend more money than be disgruntled and not come back. This type of approach does not seem to support the employee, but the nature of business is to get a customer to come back again.
Customers will often expect a certain type of service from a restaurant that they are not able to get at home. This can lead to an individual presenting as entitled to a level of service that is not warranted by the situation. This can also present the cashier or server with a person who thinks that they deserve to be treated differently than others. The term used most often is that are "entitled." This will often be the case in more upscale establishments, but it occurs even among the most low cost eateries also. Serving this type of customer can be difficult because they will often find fault in every type of food or service that is offered, and they often will demand more of the server or cashier's time than it is possible to give.
Early events do not have to be negative in total. If a person has the right attitude they can realize that even the most negative experience is positive in some ways. This attitude is usually generated by the individual personalities that people bring to the workforce, but they can be enhanced by adequate and accurate training.
Positive experiences do not always have to be concerned with some type of reward or actual money, but it sometimes makes the good experience even better. Rewards such as moving into a higher paid and more responsible spot because of good overall performance is an experience that can reinforce good habits (Oliver, 2010). Pay increases are given to every employee, for the most part, after they have reached a certain time of employment threshold. But, these types of awards are also something that can mold behavior also. Although, a lot of research has been conducted that shows that monetary awards for good employee practices are less effective than common knowledge believe (Kempster, 2006), it is true that it does have some positive effect. Positive rewards that include individual recognition via a pat on the back or some type of public display, most often improve productivity more than monetary awards do. This includes such things as employee-of-the-month placards and recognition at company gatherings. These small rewards can mean a great deal for a new employee.
Early in an employee's work career it also helps greatly if they can have somebody with them that they can learn from and look up to. This person does not necessarily have to be a mentor, but they can become such if just informally. In an apprenticeship program, this is inevitable (Riccucci, 1991), but it is generally happens in other work forums also. A mentor is generally just another employee who has been with a company fir a long period of time, and who has a better grasp of the work being done. In a food services job, it could be someone who has learned how customers like their food cooked, a server who can give training about how to service the customer better, or a manager who takes the time to offer the new employee training. Working as a cook can be difficult, but having someone explain the intricacies of the kitchen and customer preferences is invaluable. This also encourages the employee to become better themselves because then they can possibly reach the same level of excellence.
Having a job that has a possibility of so many bad experiences can also be a positive depending on how the employee handles it. Working in a difficult environment is sometimes its own reward. The employee can say that they survived a very difficult day, or, upon leaving food service, and moving on to other jobs, realize that they were…