If you happen to be one of the many Apple Store employees affected by the company’s attempt to reduce its retail workforce in the last few weeks, there is some silver lining in the dark cloud that is being let go: It turns out that Apple is really sorry for putting you through that, and is actually hiring again. Hey, it’s not as if you wouldn’t know what the position would require this time around, right?
Reports had started to emerge in recent weeks about employees in Apple Stores in the US finding their working hours significantly reduced, in addition to their vacation time being slashed in order to reduce the need for temporary or fill-in workers to take their place. Internationally, Apple Store workers were said to be facing an even more grim picture, with reports coming out of British workers being laid off almost as soon as they’d finished training for the position. At the time, Apple remained quiet about the situation, but now it’s addressing the issue – not only admitting that it made a mistake in the first place, but working to try and undo the changes as quickly as possible.
The man said to be responsible for both the downsizing and the about-face is John Browett, Apple’s newly-installed senior vice president of retail. According to sources within Apple quoted in a Dow Jones report on the subject, Browett – who started with Apple in April, following a stint in a similar position with British electronics chain Dixons, where he made similar employee cutbacks to greater effect on the company’s bottom line – told store leadership teams that “We messed up” in ordering the reduction in workforce in the first place, and that new staff will be needed in order to fix the resulting problems.
(Interestingly enough, those same sources also deny that any Apple Store workers were actually laid off during the entire process, which is at odds with earlier reports; it’s unclear whether they’re referring to US employees or speaking internationally.)
The admission of error wasn’t intended to be a secret, either; surprisingly, Apple issued an official statement on the matter, with spokeswoman Kristin Huguet telling reporters that “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed,” going on to add that “our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”
If this seems like an odd misstep for the computing giant that normally maintains a better public face on such matters, it is – But it’s also the second such misstep in the last two weeks. Just last week, the company apparently pulled a new ad campaign in the face of criticism that insulted Apple users. Things, apparently, are not necessarily going as smoothly as one would expect in the former kingdom of Steve Jobs.