What It's Like to Work at Target

target jobs My name is Paul Rados, I'm 33 years old and I held an associate position at Target in Fairview Park, Ohio, from March 2010 through July 2010. I was originally hired to work in the snack bar, which at Target stores is referred to as "Food Avenue." This position, I quickly learned, was for classification purposes only, as I was immediately cross-trained to work in other areas, including cashier and stock.

My background is in food and beverage management, as well as food production. I was told in casual conversation later that I appeared to be overqualified for the position, but was hired because I was in school at Cuyahoga Community College, continuing my education in dietary management, and so was looking for part-time hours. Human resources chose to take a chance on me and offered me a position. I was scheduled for 32 hours per week, though I had asked for 24.

The corporate culture

I found the work culture at my location to be quite interesting. My work uniform consisted of a red shirt and khaki pants. This attire is standard throughout the company at all levels. Name tags are worn by all employees and display the employee's first name only. No job titles are listed making finding a person of authority very difficult for both a customer and new employees.

Another interesting fact was that we were all known by our first name and the first three letters of our last name. For example I was "Paul Rad." This was for personal security purposes. The majority of the management and management trainees working in our store were fresh out of college and very eager to buy into the corporate culture.

They conducted themselves in a very "by-the-book" manner, having had few real-life experiences when it came to conflict management. Because of management's insistence that we follow a standard protocol to resolve an issue (rather than using common sense), a customer's complaint often escalated into a larger problem -- which would inevitably wind up annoying customers even more. I found the lack experience from management to be frustrating at my location.

Meals and breaks were to be taken only in the employee break room. It was against policy for employees to leave the premises at any time during their scheduled work period. You are permitted to bring your own food and drink, but it all must be labeled with your name and the date. If your food / drink does not contain both pieces of information, including sealed cans of soda, the manager assigned to do refrigerator checks would discard it. Other options for meals include purchasing meals from stock in the store, or from the Food Avenue snack bar. No discounts for employee meals were given.

The good and the bad

Employees of Target are entitled to a 10-percent discount on all products at any Target location by showing an employee discount card. In order to utilize this discount, however, you may only use cash, check or a Target credit card as form of payment. A debit card or bank-issued credit card is not an acceptable form of payment for employees seeking a discount. Another benefit of working at Target is that direct deposit is available for all employees regardless of the number of hours worked, or their standing in the company.

I was very surprised to learn that at my store, management regularly used fear-based tactics, especially related to job loss, in order to elicit desired results. I did not feel this pressure personally due to the fact that I had applied and taken this job as a means to generate additional income for my family, and was not dependent on it for my family's survival. I did witness on multiple occasions members of the management team resorting to fear-based tactics if they felt quotas or goals would not be met, using the threat of job loss as a way to motivate employees to work harder or faster. This tactic was not reserved solely for newer employees. Employees who had worked at Target for nearly 10 years and even longtime employees over the age of 50 were being reminded on a daily basis they were expendable.

The turnover rate was indeed pretty high. In the four months I was there, 12 people that I had the opportunity to get to know either quit or were fired. Within a few days of an employee leaving there was usually a brand-new person to take their place. This includes a 54-year-old woman who had been with the company for nearly 10 years, who was let go because she wanted to cut back her hours to spend more time with her grandchildren. This woman was in the position of Team Leader, which is a non-management supervisor of staff.

Reasons given for the departure of employees were split down the middle between those fired and those who quit. Most of the reasoning for quitting, including my own, was sheer frustration with management. The jobs themselves are not all that demanding, nor do they require a large amount of brainpower.

A personal choice

My personal reason for choosing to leave the company involved an argument with my supervisor over the number of quarts in a gallon. I corrected her while mixing the liquid for the Icee machine, when she insisted there were two quarts in a gallon, while I respectfully told her there were four. I was informed I did not know what I was talking about and there were only two quarts in a gallon.

The discussion ended with me determining that working at Target was not necessarily a good idea for me, as I was unwilling to argue over or accept a standard unit of measure being different for the company than it was for the rest of the world. Also, I did not want to be responsible for putting out a bad product like the one my supervisor was mixing. I learned later on my situation and tenure at that location was not unique. Turnover does indeed seem to be high across Target's stores.

While I do believe working at Target was a mistake for me, I don't necessarily believe it is a bad company to work for overall. At my location I did have a very young and inexperienced management team. That fact played a very large role in my personal experience with the company. I feel that as a company they are in line with other large national retailers when it comes to benefits, pay and expectations. Working for Target may be right for some, but not for all.

Next: What It's Like to Work at Walmart

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Your description of the management of Target stores is spot on. They usually hire young people out of college to manage employees who have been with the store 5-10 years. Usually, these young LODs or managers have no idea how the day to day even works at Target, like simple things. How is that supposed to work?

November 21 2014 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Target has always been a really great company to work for, for me at least. I have worked at two different Targets one in California and now currently in Alabama. Target pretty much always cross trains there employees which I love because you gain more experience and you can get more hours. You can also use your discount on anything in the store and with the red card you get an additional 5% , plus with targets new app cartwheel you can combine it with those coupons and save a lot, there are lots of coupons for food avenue or the target cafe and Target even allows you to use your discount on clearance items.
Both the Targets I worked for used rewards and recognition to motivate the team to work hard, they never use fear tactics. The leadership for both stores that I worked at is amazing, all the leaders have lots of experience some having worked for Target for 8 or more years, They are always helpful and willing to listen to the teams input, and I feel very connected with the team I have now and even the team I used to work with.
Target also excels in being diverse and inclusive and the idea that some of your guys team leads would single out a group of people is way way against company policy and should be reported. I also want to mention that you can leave Target for lunch at both of the stores I worked for, because your on your own time and not Targets. My store will even let you take a longer break if you need to go to a doctors appointment or something. They also only throw away unmarked food on Friday's which is necessary to keep out spoiled food, also drinks can't be open otherwise they might spill in the fridge and make a mess it's common sense.
All in all Target as a company is great to work for and I guess it really depends on the store you work for, having worked for two completely different stores and ones that are so far apart its crazy that some people have had the experience they had. I'm sorry for anyone who has went through bad experiences and my advice is to just report whatever you feel necessary.

December 05 2013 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Target is great. At least the Target in Franklin, Wisconsin.

You CAN leave the premises on your lunch break.

Conflicts get solved easily, they do not ESCALATE as Paul mentioned. This could have been just a problem with his store, just like not being able to leave on his lunch break.

Target does not use fear-based tactics at all for my location. They use rewards. We can earn shirts and also get free food/drink in the break room (today it was lots of 2-liter name brand soda, ice, and Target brand cereal).

Target listens to your starting availability (I would assume if you can't agree on availability, then you won't get hired? I see this as a problem Paul Rados should have fixed as soon as he was hired or claim that he wouldn't work past the hours he said he wanted.) Later after your 90 days, it is possible that they could deny you a change in your availability (I asked for Sundays off, but I did not get that day off since that is the day most asked off by employees. Totally understandable.)

After working third shift at the Pick N Save in Burlington, Wisconsin that has a horrible atmosphere and management for two years prior to this Target job, I can't believe how great of a corporation Target is. I thought it was going to be just like Pick N Save, but with different hours. I am so glad that I was mistaken.

October 17 2013 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awful place to work, I work for target in a Chicago location for the past 5 years and because of my age there is a lot of discrimination to adults over 45+. Also, there is a lot of favoritism with the younger employees. Managers and Team leaders are very ignorant about labor laws, very young and immature. I had complained several times to HR at the Minneapolis location over the phone, same with all the different Store managers we had over the past 5 years and nothing seems to change. If things continue, they are looking for a law suit as I am tired of the harassment and abuse of their part. It is too bad that big corporations like Target rather hire a lot of inexperience and ignorant people in management positions rather than hire professionals or at least train those they have adequately. YES, the turnover rate at my store is huge!!!!

September 06 2013 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I recently quit my position at target as a jewelry brand team member in softlines. I often "argued" with my supervisor right above me because she was never wrong even when I knew I was right i wasn't. I am ok with being wrong when I am but when I know for fact I am right. Everybody on my team felt micromanaged, 4 people in softlines have quit in the past week and they are irritated they are short staffed, but they have no clue to look at what these 4 people have in common its one team lead. Good luck if you get a job there.

June 06 2013 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its been said and i will say it again it depends on where you work. I work up here in Minnesota, where we are known for being nice and overly polite. I have worked at Target for a short time but already realize their approach. They are always trying to one up walmart from an HR perspective. Every time Walmart does something that gains media attention, Target goes out of its way to transform its policy as to appear as if it is against unfair labor practices. With that being said, Target is like working at any other large corporation. They may appear to care about other things but in the end the word of the day is "profit." I can leave for lunch and i get fair discounts to anything in the store. (with the exception of gift cards.) The comment about inexperience in lower management is DEAD on. This company seems to hire anyone with a business degree fresh out the frat house. I despise the fact that I am under someones thumb who can not comprehend half the things that come out of my mouth. I despise the fact i answer to someone who is good at being a follower through the education system and a made a leader on that merit. The insanity in this is mind bending. Also the fact that over 50% of college graduates do not get a career in their research field and yet have, on average, $40,000 in debt shows how illogical their investment mindset is. If Target really wants to know the truth about the lower management of their stores they need to contact me. My name is Steven Johnson and I work in the Meat Department of the West Saint Paul store an I would gladly give you a realization to correct the fallacy that is hiring young-minded, inexperienced, marketing posers.

November 18 2012 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The way Target treats employees is like watching a large ship place giant cracks in the foundation. I know firsthand that fear tactics and untrustworthy practices are plentiful. If they have a conscious...Mid-level managers get out so they can sleep at night. This company is in need of a total HR overhaul from the TOP, down.

November 07 2012 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I currently work at a Target in the Houston, TX area. I do agree that turn-over is high within Target. However, every retail store I have EVER worked at has a high turn-over. The bigger the company, the higher the turn-over, I think.

I have been at my location for about 9 months and while there are bumps and bruises along the way, I love my job. If the location you worked at wasn't allowing you to use your team member discount on your meals, that is SPECIFICALLY against the rules. You can use it ANY TIME you wish. The reasoning that a regular bank card or credit card can't be used in conjunction with the TM discount is because it costs the company MORE money to process it than it does if you were to use cash, check, or the RedCard.

Target likes to cross-train their employees so that if there is a call-in somewhere else, they might be able to rely on someone from somewhere else in the store. It's not uncommon.

I think in some things, Target takes very good care of their employees, but on other levels, they severely lack. The management issues at your store seem to be odd. It's hard to find team leads and LODs at my store that DON'T twist protocol to fit the particular situation. Which, in a lot of cases, makes my job at the service desk MUCH harder. Because they will usually approve of a return or exchange that is SPECIFICALLY against our return policy.

And while I don't think I get paid enough for my job, I do still love my job at Target. I think I could do better than Target, but it is the job that I have right now, and my specific duties at the service desk are things that I have always looked for in a job. I can mostly work on my own, I can make my own decisions (minus major ones), and I can usually work at my own pace. The store you worked for sounds quite horrendous, in all honesty.

October 02 2012 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roger Neal Cain Jr.

I have no idea why the hell my post came up twice ...wth lol

September 21 2012 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roger Neal Cain Jr.

Well I have worked for Target for about 9 months now, Previous job's were golf course maintenance for 7 and a half years (it was hell) and befor that I worked as a water based paint manufacturer (manager of the plant and also delivery driver as well as part time worked in the store it was a small company 4 employees not to bad just went out of business ) and when i was a teenager I worked for 2 years at burger king (the 1st worst job of the 5 I have had I started working when i was 16 btw im now 29) 5th job I had for a week after burgerking and that was wal mart I will make this part short and sweet when i was on my goverment mandated off clock break i was told to clean up a mess on the check lanes I said not until im clocked in and was told if i didnt do it now i would be fired and that I cant clock back in for 30 min so I said you cant fire me the manager said I can and will and isaid okay then im out peace i quit that was my 3rd day on that job so to me that was the closest thing to retail be for target i had so at first working at target was weird I really hadent worked much in retail (bk or walmart dont count) I told them I had issues with math (im not stupid I can count I just hate it lol) I said so i would problably suck at cashiering ( at burger king if you were a penny off you got told you were worthless ) so the burger king experiance made me hate the thought of even thinking of cashiering after a few mistakes my first 3 weeks of not knowing anything being slow and some other things I started to get good the management team from the store manager who often comes out and helps out and jokes with us all the time to the newbies always have a good time one time I wrote my scedual down wrong came in an hr late ( my fault ) I thought for sure I lost my job but they were cool about it they said yeah it happens sometimes just be careful not to let it happen to much or else we will make you work in softlines ( the clothing department I dont understand it haha) but it was more of a joke everyone at my store are great team players we joke he laugh and if some one is having a bad day the team leads LOD's (leaders on duty) or even the AP as well as the store managers usealy seem to come and ask if you are okay and if you are down they try to cheer you up sometimes they even say hey take a break and get a drink my treat as far as not being able to leave for lunch that must be at maybe 3 stores I know the store I work at I can go where ever i want when I want on my break as long as i take off my name tag out side of work its cool I love it at target

September 21 2012 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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