Apple Retail

After the New York Times’ article on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) employees last weekend caused so much controversy, 9to5Mac decided to carry out more extensive interviews with employees of the company’s retail division. The article ran on the website earlier today.

The original Times article calculated that 30,000 out of 43,000 Apple employees based in the United States worked in the firm’s retail operations. Those employees earned an average of $25,000 a year according to the report. The article contrasted that with Apple’s revenue of $473,000 for each retail employee.

9to5Mac’s questionnaire is an attempt to bring more subjective and personal experiences of working in Apple’s retail division to the fore. The interviews were conducted among current and former Apple employees. The results sum up the feeling of the firm’s retail staff toward the company.

The interviews were limited in scope, however, relying on just a few responses. They don’t offer a statistically valid way of looking at the structure and performance of Apple’s retail organization. What the interviews do allow us to see is the reactions of certain people to working at the lower end of the world’s most valuable company.

Five people answered the question “How has working at Apple Retail improved your life?” Each of the answers was positive, though some were more resoundingly so than others. Many of those asked mentioned friends, improved customer service and a love for the company as reasons for the improvement from their Apple employment.

Of the three responses to the question “Will it better your future?”, the answers were again mostly positive. The training received in the retail stores seem paramount to the experience of employees, and what they take from the company. One of those questioned was more equivocal, lacking any real information on how a tenure at Apple will really impact future employment.

When questioned on their reactions tot he article from the New York Times many of the employees seemed to have their minds less than made up. All were balancing the experience of working in Apple retail, which they enjoyed, with the less than stellar compensation.

One response elucidated the high levels of burnout felt among employees of Apple’s retail division. The level of compensation, according to that particular staff member, is not quite up to the stress levels felt by many of the company’s employees.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is probably the most successful company of the last decade and their retail arm is one of the major guarantors of that success. As one of the employees questioned answered, “If you’re not rich you are making someone else rich. Making Apple much more money than they pay me means nothing to me. It pays my bills and the end of the day that’s what matters.”

That is one of the most cogent and powerful responses to the New York Times article. Apple employees are sought in a free market. Apple has no moral or legal obligation to provide for them based on the company’s success. It only has to employ them at a rate they are willing to work at.