- Target is changing the way stores operate nationwide.
- This process – internally called "modernization" – involves eliminating some overnight and back room shifts and changing storage processes. The changes are intended to increase the availability of the team to help guests on the floor, Target confirmed.
- A 54-page rollout guide was sent to Target store executives and managers in August 2018. It described how inventory and sorting should be done to create a "culture of efficiency."
- Business Insider spoke to over 50 past and present target workers, many of whom said that the modernization program had changed stores for the worse, making their job unbearably stressful.
- Visit the Business Insiders homepage for more stories .
Target is transforming the way stores work.
But current and former employees say the practical effects of the changes are below expectations. .
"The journey to activate a sales culture with knowledgeable, experienced and passionate teams that mix service and task is well underway," says Target's sorting and inventory implementation guide for backroom processes for clothing and accessories. A former East Coast Target official received this 54-page rollout guide in August 201
This worker and others – some current and some former employees – spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of reprisals.
Read more: The goal ended quietly overnight shifts in some stores, and employees say their workload has become & # 39; chaotic & # 39; as they try to keep up
The guide outlines details of a new stocking system, which workers say is part of Target's major modernization efforts. This new stocking process includes how to unload trucks, sort goods and shelves in the sales floor. Business Insider spoke to over 50 past and present target workers, many of whom said the modernization program has changed their stores for the worse, which has made their job unbearably stressful and in some cases unsafe.
Target confirmed some back space and overnight shifts had been eliminated in stores across the country. With fewer people devoted to specific jobs in the back, many other workers said they were forced to pick up the slack while trying to keep up with a workload they did not initially sign up for. This, on top of the changes in stocking processes, has created problems for workers in target stores across the country.
A new way of sorting and storing
"This is a call to action with a measure of consistency across all back rooms in all 1,839+ stores," the rollout guide states. In general, the document outlines how target workers should be responsible for their own store areas and be responsible for various storage tasks, in addition to helping guests. Some highlights in the guide mention that:
- A thorough sorting process from the moment the truck arrived – called a "super-black" – should be carried out by six to seven employees.
- Wooden platforms – called pallets – are not to be used on the sales floor.
- All sorting must be done in the back room.
- Employees are expected to assist guests as they stock and return garbage and unsaved items to the back room as needed.
The "super-black" process is what has caused many of the problems in the back room, said the former employee who shared the rollout guide. But the new process requires more detailed unloading and sorting directly of the truck, which takes more time said employees.
"Sorting on the sales floor in front of our guests will be a saga, and warehouses, including clothing, will be able to work product faster than ever while prioritizing guest interactions," the implementation guide says.
In other words, Target hoped to have products sorted more efficiently in the back room so that workers could spend more time on other tasks in the sales floor. But this eventually resulted in more work, employees said.
"It was simply duplication," said the former Target executive. "And the same payroll was given by HQ because the payroll was determined by cardboard counting, and not by the change in process."
In a statement, Target mentioned that the company sat down with almost every team member to discuss availability and planning preferences before implementing any changes last summer. "Then we used this information – in combination with our overall staffing needs – to create individual team members," the spokesman said.
The spokesman also said that employees worked a little more hours on average this year than they were three years ago. "Since 2017, we have invested millions of extra pay hours each year to ensure we have more team members available to serve our guests," the spokesperson said. Read More to get through the workload.
A current part-time employee in the back room with a California Target working on clothes, said she has had three major panic attacks over the past year.
"We are expected to move at a pace that is completely unrealistic," she said. "Size and sorting by style alone takes time and detail, but they want you to move quickly and efficiently so that the stands reach the floor. "
The workers say that the modernization process has made the back rooms overcrowded
during the new modernization process has led to target stores being overcrowded by goods.
At least 13 workers said that their back rooms became increasingly unsafe as a result of the changes from modernization.
"There was a point where my shop should have been closed due to unsafe working conditions," said a former incoming team leader overnight who worked at a New Hampshire Target for three years and left in February.
Target told Business Insider security was a top priority.
"Our store managers and team members undergo mandatory security training every year, investing in technology, tools, and processes that keep our stores safe and ensure that we comply with all federal safety guidelines. We work hard to investigate and remedy issues whenever we receives security-related concerns from our team members, "the company said in a statement last week.
Following the publication of a Business Insider article detailing the overcrowded and uncertain conditions that employees said resulted from the shift changes, four current and former Target employees in Arizona, Houston, New Jersey and California told Business Insider noticed or heard about changes happening in their stores to resolve the issues reported.
"Helping a guest now feels like a burden"
A major part of the modernization program is its emphasis on prioritizing guest service, or a mix of "service and task," according to the guide.  Part of the guide, which describes how members of the general trade teams should be kept, states that workers in this department should be available to assist guests while they are being stored.
"[Modernization] was a term used to describe how processes should change to become more guest-focused," said a current executive for the manager of a Texas Target.
This employee said that with modernization came cuts in different teams, which contributed to the workload of other employees. He also said he has had fewer payrolls available than his store has had in the years before.
Read more: Target's back room becomes precarious, crowded "nightmare" as the company cuts shifts and hours, workers say
"There is tremendous pressure," said one employed with a leading position in a Midwestern Target sales floor who said workers at his location have had to work harder after shift cuts – cleaning up aisles, pushing goods from trucks, fetching price changes and helping customers – all without increasing hours.
"They seem to push this & # 39; guest-first & # 39; mentality without giving us time or flexibility to put the guest first without sacrificing our work performance," the employee added.
The employee described the workload as expected by the team as "unrealistic."
"Helping a guest now feels like a burden," he said.
A worker at an Iowa Target said that when modernization started in her store around May, it threw her shop into a "chaotic panic" as she and her colleagues became responsible for a variety of tasks in their area – such as price changes, shelf layout, cleaning, stocking and pulling items from the back room. At the same time, the back room became increasingly chaotic.
"I've been working here for 4 years now and I loved it for 3 and a half years. But the last six months have been a nightmare," she said in an email.
Some employees recognized that modernization in theory seemed like it could be positive.
Read more: Target gets thousands of workers pumped up for the holidays with receivers like & # 39; WWABD: What Would a Badass Do & # 39;
"That sounded good," said the current manager of a Texas Target in an email. " We all want to make sure that guests are fulfilled when we shop in our stores."
But for many current and former employees, the reality of these changes has not had the desired effect.  "When the rubber hit the road, it didn't work," the Texas employee said.
If you are a target employee with a story to share, email email@example.com.