Retailer James Keogh employs more than 55 people at the Rathwood store on the Carlow/Wicklow border. He writes why he thinks the recession has changed young people’s attitude to work.
I GET ASKED lots of things about the recession. How it affects business and sales. Mostly the impact of the recession is negative: it is tough on people, sales and business. However, there is one very positive impact that I have seen on the young people we employ.
As a retail outlet we employ a lot of seasonal staff and many of these temporary staff are students. They come for the summer, autumn and winter breaks. During the boom years we found that students or young people could be a very mixed bunch. While there were some great workers, others approached their job in a somewhat lackadaisical manner. At 26-years-old myself, I do not want to seem patronising in any way, but a few years ago people felt there was always another job or opportunity around the corner – now they are a lot more aware that there is not.
However, the recession has produced a marked change in attitude with our Tiger Cubs. Our staff are now twice as keen to work, punctual in the extreme and really care about their jobs and the customers. I think that during the boom years, money was easy. Kids didn’t really have to work as Mum or Dad would provide it for them. Jobs were plentiful and if one didn’t work out then another could be easily found. Now, there is a definite scarcity of jobs and money. If young people want to afford a car, they need to earn the money.
We used to have cases where young people would arrive late, and even obviously hungover from the night before. It was a real problem for us as we were trying to run a business. People’s attitudes were that jobs were plentiful. People cared about how much they were getting paid, if they didn’t like their work, they could simply move on. That doesn’t happen any more. These same kids care about their jobs and they make sure they are on time and in form to work. People also seem to care more about what is their CV. They understand that any experience is good experience and they are making the most out of whatever position they have. They are working hard as they know that getting a credible reference, especially in this economic climate, is very important. I think this new attitude has possibly come from parents too. They are under a lot of financial pressure, they can no longer support their children with hand outs so they are happy that they are working.
It is a real eye opener the difference in attitude that a few short years and the recession can make. In these tough economic times, you have to wonder, where is the turning point going to come from, what is going to get us out of this. It’s hard to pin point, but a good work ethic is important. At Christmas we take on a lot of seasonal staff. These are people that will only be working over the holidays, and we used to see people not taking the job seriously, mainly because they wouldn’t be there for long. Now there has even been a change in the seasonal workers. We hire them and train them, and they take their work very seriously. People know that if you work hard somewhere and do a good job, you never know where it might lead. People are aware that employment opportunities are scarce, so if there is a chance it will lead to more work down the line, they are going to ensure that they take their job, for however long they have it, very seriously.
We work in the service industry so it is all about meeting people with a friendly face, who are eager to help. Your service is only as good as you are, that is so important. If you’re workers aren’t giving 100 per cent to the job, the business suffers and in turn so can the employees.
The change in attitude is great for our customers because they get committed staff who want to do the best possible job. And it’s great for us as we can offer consistently professional service and maybe even get to hire the same hard workers in time when they finish their studies.
Rathwood, located on the Tullow to Shillelagh road, on the Carlow/Wicklow border opened its doors in April 1994.