Home Depot: More Saving. More Doing.
That well known slogan can really get your attention. You’ve seen the commercials with those happy, helpful employees and perhaps you thought about filling out an application. Before you do, here’s the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at The Home Depot. We’re shedding light on both the good and the bad!
Lynn is my neighbor and he has worked at The Home Depot since 1995. If anyone has seen it all, it’s Lynn. He has worked in almost every department and even did a stint at the corporate office. He gave me the real lowdown on working for this giant of home improvement. To begin with, Lynn wants you to know that your level of passion for retail will greatly influence how well you do with the company. His best advice for new employees is that they be aggressive, learn all they can about every department, ask tons of questions and show no fear. Most of the time your passion will be rewarded and provide ample opportunity to advance. If you’re only looking for a paycheck, that is all you will get out of it.
So you might be interested in the daily grind and what it entails. One thing you need to know is that unlike most retail stores, there is no particular dress code. Nothing above the knee is about it. Let’s face it, you’re gonna be wearing that orange apron anyway. Comfortable shoes are a must and you need to be prepared to walk several miles daily as the stores are HUGE. Those with a military background are like crack for this company. The Depot loves to hire former military persons due to their proven committment, reliability, discipline and overall ability to lead. These people tend to be promoted quickly within the ranks. For anyone considering strapping on that hot orange apron, Lynn needs you to know that “this is retail, people. You’re gonna work Saturdays and Sundays, mornings, nights and some holidays.” He admits that they are “pretty good” about giving you requested days off. However, you must plan ahead, make your request early and in writing! The same is true of vacation time. You can take your vacation almost any time of the year as long as you give ample notice. Both full and part time employees are able to receive medical, dental and vision insurance. Another plus is that the Home Depot is very community driven, with lots of volunteer opportunities whenever there is a need. They also donate a great deal of materials during times of crisis and natural disasters. You can feel confident that they will “do the right thing” in the community.
There really aren’t many businesses nowadays that don’t require a college degree. Home Depot is known for promoting within. This is a company that has enabled people to start as a “lot” employee and end up in higher management. Again, if you can show your love and passion for the company you may be rewarded.
So yes, there is a great deal of opportunity to advance within this company but you’d better be ready to live the job!
However, I said I’d share the good and the bad so here it comes.
According to Lynn, the first 5 years he worked for the Depot things were great! Employees had a sense of “ownership” over their departments. They were respected and trusted to do what was best for their area. They knew what worked and what didn’t for their store. Having a say in stocking of shelves, ordering product and setting up displays gave them the motivation to do their absolute best. They felt empowered and appreciated. Then about ten years ago things changed. Suddenly everything was about the “bottom line”. Gone were the days of taking pride in his department. Lynn, along with other employees, was told that everything would be mapped out according to the corporate office. People in suits, sitting behind desks would now be the ones responsible for how the stores ran thus killing any creativity by the employees. The same managers that once rewarded employees with performance raises and store parties to boost morale were now essentially working to keep their own jobs. In this ever worsening economy it’s “every man for himself”. The managers now have little real authority. Lynn says the overall feeling is that “HR is running the stores” and “the company has taken away any real motivation to give 100%.” “This used to be a fun place to work,” says Lynn. “Now there are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.” The company is now being run so much “by the book” that there is NO room for error. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve worked, termination looms around every corner. It makes for a seriously tense environment. Several people have been discouraged because they’ve worked to be placed into the management training program, only to have their store manager relocated. What does that mean then? Well if you’ve worked hard for 2-3 years and a new manager comes along, you are basically starting all over again. Even when you’ve done your best, you could still be passed over.
Home Depot is attempting to go back to its original roots. They have a long way to go. Bottom line is this…
From an employee standpoint, The Home Depot is a “by the book” company and you’d better be willing to let them consume you. Lynn has seen “lot” associates become store managers. He has also seen a manager of 26 years fired over a minor infraction. Chances are you will work without proper department coverage fairly regularly, so bring your lunch. And if you were looking forward to a big employee discount, keep looking because you won’t find one here. You can have a future with them as long as you are driven and you know what you’re in for. As we closed this chat, I asked Lynn why he’s stuck it out for so long, feeling so unappreciated? His answer was simple. “I’ve seen this place change so much, both good and bad. Its allowed me to make my living, I can’t really complain too much. I have a family that counts on me to get up and go to work every day. I really do like working for The Depot. I just wish things were different.”