We Are Sunshine

My Letter to You, the Employee

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

By Scott Nichols

My usual articles are geared towards owners, upper management and sometimes store managers. This article is different. This time I want to talk directly to the employee, the Gen-Z generation. For a vast majority of employees, the tanning industry won’t be their “career” job, and that is okay! I understand that, and I hope you do as well. But, that doesn’t mean an employee can’t learn something from this job. The sad truth is that a lot of adults think the Gen-Z generation is lost. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t (and that’s for another article), but my goal with this article is to pass some tips and ideas that can put Gen-Z in a great situation for the future.

In this industry, the employees we hire face different types of challenges than your typical nine-to-five job. We have nights, weekends and in most cases a location with only one employee working for a good part of the year. I will admit these don’t sound much like a challenge, but they can be! Let me run just two scenarios by you.

  1. You are an employee who has the availability to work evenings and nights. They put you on Monday through Friday in the evenings, but three Fridays from now you have plans with your friends to go on a small vacation for the weekend. With it being a Friday night, getting that shift covered can be difficult, and you soon find out that nobody is willing help. Now you need to make a decision – work or friends? If you choose work, will you choose it again next time – especially when your friends are begging you to go?
  2. You are an employee that has been working for a few weeks. You are trained and ready to work your first few hours by yourself. During the shift, every customer decides to tan at the same time, and pretty soon there is a line from the desk to the front door. Panic sets in, and you don’t know what to do. You have to make a decision if you are going to put up with this again tomorrow.

These are scenarios that employees face often, and when they do, they start questioning why they are working. I am writing this article to give you some real-world advice. There will always be challenges in every job, and no matter how good you are, they will always happen. What is important is how you respond to them. Here are three pieces of advice that I would like to give the Gen-Z generation.

This first piece of advice is for the “Job Jumper.” I understand that having a job can get difficult, but jumping from job to job can be a bad thing for you. If you have job-jumped three or more times in the past six to 12 months, this is for you! One day you will wake up and want something more. You will want a job that allows you to buy a house, car and maybe start a family. So, you start looking and land an interview. During the interview process, the employer will ask about your past work experience. As you hand them your resume, did you put down all the jobs you had leading up to this interview? If so, how do you respond to the many jobs you had in such a short period of time? Or will you omit a few of the jobs you had? This can be difficult to answer as well, because your resume will show gaps in time where you didn’t work. Either way, you need an answer for these two questions. Also, don’t forget the interviewer will most likely be calling your past employers to find out what type of worker you were.

Why is it that you are jumping from job to job? Is it because the job isn’t working around your schedule, or what you want the job to be? If you are on your third job in six months, the issues might not be anyone’s but your own.

My second piece of advice is for the employee to know you are always being watched. Scary, I know!  But this isn’t meant to be scary. Everyone is always being watched by anyone they come across. When I was in my late teens, I went to school to become a police officer. In one of my first classes, the instructor talked about a fish that lived in a fish bowl. Everyday, people would walk past this fish bowl and stop to see what the fish is doing. Some people would see the fish swimming, others saw it eating, while others would come up and knock on the glass bowl. Some of the people would say that the fish is happy, and others would say it is sad. If the fish was swimming around fast, it was in good health. Others thought when it wasn’t swimming, it was sad. Some said it was lonely and we should get another fish. Everyone had an opinion on this fish because all they did was watch it. The point is, everybody is always judging you based on non-verbal cues, even if you didn’t mean to send a particular message.

An article called “7% Rule, Fact, Fiction, or Misunderstanding” by Philip Yaffe talks about how we as humans communicate. Two studies that were done by Professor Albert Mehrabian at the University of California, Los Angles show that rule of communication is 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal.  Of the 93% non-verbal, 55% of it was body language and 38% tone of our voice.

This is just crazy and hard to wrap your head around! This is why it is so important to have a job like you do in the tanning industry. You get to learn how to control and use this to your advantage. Learning about your verbal and non-verbal communications skills is the key to having successful customer service and a successful relationship with your co-workers, boss and customers. Being conscious of the way you act and behave can be impactful and will propel you further in your career over someone who’s never learned them.

My last piece is advice to help you to blow through any barrier or obstacles! Don’t back down from them. They just make you look weak.  An employer looks for employees who will break through – better yet blast through – barriers. I can tell you this: In the future, when you are working your “career” job and you don’t blast through obstacles, you won’t last long. They hired you to blast through, not your boss! I want you to look at the challenges you are facing today, tomorrow, and next month as opportunities to better yourself. If you are not challenged now, then how do you expect to bust through any barrier tomorrow?

I get it. Getting called in on a Saturday to work can be the worst! But does it really have to be? You have a choice to make, and this choice can either make you look good or bad. If you step up, you will grow!  Your boss will see what type of worker you are! More importantly, you’ve shown yourself that you can bust though barriers! If you busted through one, you can bust through them all!

Again, this article is written to give advice to employees on how to better themselves. Today matters if you want tomorrow to be better. It is not up to your employer to make you happy. It is impossible for them to do that 100% of the time.  They will let you down at times, but knowing that, it can prepare you to handle situations where you need to step up.