Former Apple retail head Ahrendts says worker retention hit almost 89% under her watch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 10
In spite of criticisms, the retention rate for Apple's retail workers grew from 61% to "nearly 89%" during the past five years, former Apple retail head Angela Ahrendts told a podcast this week.

Angela Ahrendts


That improvement represented a "historic high," Ahrendts said in an interview with RBC Disruptors. She added that under her leadership, Apple retail was "changing and evolving," and "refocusing if you will" with overhauled store designs and upgrading internal communications systems. The executive was referring to things like a "Hello" app that now provides daily briefings, and a "Loop" app encouraging workers to share efficiency ideas.

There was "a challenge a day" in running a business as enormous as Apple's, Ahrendts said. "I think that if it is a challenge, it's your job to fix the challenge. So when I came in, there were a lot of systems that weren't connected, there wasn't a way to communicate."

A May report claimed that Ahrendts upset a "finely tuned balance" at Apple stores by axing fixed checkouts and Genius Bars in favor of roaming clerks, leading to shoppers having to hunt down help, or vice versa. Cited staff also complained about issues like reduced training and a lack of people with outside skills.

Ahrendts later tried to refute those complaints. "I don't read any of it and none of it is based on fact, it's everyone trying to find stories, et cetera," she said, using "all-time high" retention rates and net promoter scores as a defense. At the time, she did not cite a specific retention rate.

The retail chain is now being overseen by Deirdre O'Brien, who is also retaining her role as HR chief.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,853member
    Bye Angie!
  • Reply 2 of 11
    araquenaraquen Posts: 3member
    Ahrendts is trying to spin this. I have a number of friends in retail, and the complaints about check-out, and GB are pretty accurate. She just surrounded herself with "yes men" and now can't handle that she didn't actually pay any attention to the details.

     And let's not forget the fact that the customer surveys are structured like any old hack company (only top marks are a pass, and anything 4 or under is a fail, even if the question was about APPLE or a product and not the rep, and they get dinged if you don't fill out the survey at all--and the employees are not allowed to even mention the surveys, so you just have to know to fill it out and give top marks so the associate who helped you doesn't lose their job for something they can't control at all). However, I am not an employee (nor was I) so I'll mention it, because its a bogus system, unbecoming of the kind of company Apple purports itself to be. Apple literally pays no attention to criticisms about itself in those surveys, so all you're doing is making the specialist/Genius/Creative's life miserable. You're effectively punching down. If you want to punch up regarding an APPLE policy, write directly to Tim Cook. He does read the emails. 

    I'm also very skeptical of Deirdre O'Brien. All you need to do is check Glassdoors and see that Apple's HR is not in a good place. The most common complaints were "ineffective" and "unresponsive." If she's where the buck stops for HR, and this is what HR is like, I can't imagine she's going to do a better job as the Retail lead. Not when she's the one who decided to use customer surveys as the primary and nigh sole method of evaluating employee performance which, as we mentioned, is a broken model, one in which anyone with half a brain knows companies use to justify firing staff without having to jump DOL concerns.

    Ultimately, the problem is that Tim Cook is not a visionary, and he knows it. But he doesn't hire visionary people either. Apple Retail management is the best 1997 has to offer, and all Ahrendts did was make it exclusive. Cook needs someone who can look at retail and say "how can I reimagine this for the 21st century, both for the consumer and for the retail staff, who are not only 18 year olds putting themselves through college and looking for high paying careers afterwards, but also working adults seeking to support a family, where stupid-crazy, volatile work schedules and unpredictability is antithetical to the kind of lifestyle Cook seems to keep implying Apple wants for everyone - everyone but their own staff, it seems.

    And Apple wonders why there are efforts to unionize.

    The only reason Apple is an adequate place to work as far as retail is because of the health benefits. Beyond that, Today's Apple Retail culture is actually worse than it was under Jobs and Johnson.
    FileMakerFellerhammeroftruth
  • Reply 3 of 11
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    High retention rates are not a good thing when you’ve reduced the criteria for hiring. You’re stuck with the mediocre.
    williamhmacplusplushammeroftruth
  • Reply 4 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,999member
    araquen said:
    Ultimately, the problem is that Tim Cook is not a visionary, and he knows it.
    Incorrect. Cook is one of best CEOs of the century. Most CEOs are not visionaries and being one is not an expected criterial for being chief executive. In fact data seems to suggest some of the recent famous visionaries were not great chief executives. 

    So, you’re confused as to how things work. 
    dewmeJinTech
  • Reply 5 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,999member

    tulkas said:
    High retention rates are not a good thing when you’ve reduced the criteria for hiring. You’re stuck with the mediocre.
    Which criteria were reduced and what is your evidence?
  • Reply 6 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,999member
    I see the Angries are out, ever diligent in their need to convince themselves she’s a failure. Predictable. 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 7 of 11
    It's not difficult to point to better retention rates, when you predecessor was John Browlett.

    Under Browlett the joy of working for Apple became a nightmare.  It was he that suggested (as a way of saving money) that Genius members should try and juggle up to 3 service appointments at the same time.  Nothing more depressing than seeing colleges having nervous breakdowns or crying out the back of the store.

    Under him, Apple's Christmas presents for retail staff went from ipods to Apple-branded hats.  And let's not forget the Bromley Store opening fiasco.  Apple had hired a bunch of new staff for the new store, so many had left old jobs and also moving houses to be closer to the store, then Browlett comes on board and says "we don't these new staff" (after all, service employees are now handling 3 x the workload they used to)  and then had them all fired, before they had even started work.  The uproar was such that a few days later the firing had to be rescinded.

    What a guy!
  • Reply 8 of 11
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,191member
    Tim hired her.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 377member
    araquen said:
    Ultimately, the problem is that Tim Cook is not a visionary, and he knows it.
    Incorrect. Cook is one of best CEOs of the century. Most CEOs are not visionaries and being one is not an expected criterial for being chief executive. In fact data seems to suggest some of the recent famous visionaries were not great chief executives. 

    So, you’re confused as to how things work. 
    Agreed (with StrangeDays.) It is the CEOs responsibility, amongst many other things, to ensure that the company flourishes, of which he is doing a pretty damn good job at. 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 10 of 11
    araquen said:
    Ahrendts is trying to spin this. I have a number of friends in retail, and the complaints about check-out, and GB are pretty accurate. She just surrounded herself with "yes men" and now can't handle that she didn't actually pay any attention to the details.

     And let's not forget the fact that the customer surveys are structured like any old hack company (only top marks are a pass, and anything 4 or under is a fail, even if the question was about APPLE or a product and not the rep, and they get dinged if you don't fill out the survey at all--and the employees are not allowed to even mention the surveys, so you just have to know to fill it out and give top marks so the associate who helped you doesn't lose their job for something they can't control at all). However, I am not an employee (nor was I) so I'll mention it, because its a bogus system, unbecoming of the kind of company Apple purports itself to be. Apple literally pays no attention to criticisms about itself in those surveys, so all you're doing is making the specialist/Genius/Creative's life miserable. You're effectively punching down. If you want to punch up regarding an APPLE policy, write directly to Tim Cook. He does read the emails. 

    I'm also very skeptical of Deirdre O'Brien. All you need to do is check Glassdoors and see that Apple's HR is not in a good place. The most common complaints were "ineffective" and "unresponsive." If she's where the buck stops for HR, and this is what HR is like, I can't imagine she's going to do a better job as the Retail lead. Not when she's the one who decided to use customer surveys as the primary and nigh sole method of evaluating employee performance which, as we mentioned, is a broken model, one in which anyone with half a brain knows companies use to justify firing staff without having to jump DOL concerns.

    Ultimately, the problem is that Tim Cook is not a visionary, and he knows it. But he doesn't hire visionary people either. Apple Retail management is the best 1997 has to offer, and all Ahrendts did was make it exclusive. Cook needs someone who can look at retail and say "how can I reimagine this for the 21st century, both for the consumer and for the retail staff, who are not only 18 year olds putting themselves through college and looking for high paying careers afterwards, but also working adults seeking to support a family, where stupid-crazy, volatile work schedules and unpredictability is antithetical to the kind of lifestyle Cook seems to keep implying Apple wants for everyone - everyone but their own staff, it seems.

    And Apple wonders why there are efforts to unionize.

    The only reason Apple is an adequate place to work as far as retail is because of the health benefits. Beyond that, Today's Apple Retail culture is actually worse than it was under Jobs and Johnson.
    Ouch! It’s almost like you worked there, or something. 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    araquen is so correct I actually left the company during my time there under her leadership, the changes she made pushed half of my Genius Bar team including me to leave.
    edited July 11
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