Target Offering In-Store Social Workers For Some Employees

Two days a week, the employees at the Target store in Compton, CA, have access to something many of us could probably use: a social worker.

When Target opened up its Compton location a few years ago, managers had trouble dealing with a largely inexperienced staff who had more pressing concerns than stocking new sheets in the linens section.

“There was domestic violence, teenage pregnancy. We’ve had situations where team members were homeless and living in their cars but still coming to work,” said the store’s head of human resources to the L.A. Times. “More than half of my day was dealing with team member concerns — ‘What should I do, where should I go?’ They needed someone to talk to, someone who would listen.”

And so Target decided to bring in a social worker who could offer staffers a place to vent or to come to for advice on anything from family problems to advice on buying a home or adopting a baby.

The Compton store was only the second Target to have a social worker. In just a few years, that number has expanded to 69 stores. And the results are showing. Branches with social workers have reported a 17% average improvement in employee attendance scores in 2009 compared with the previous year.

Is this something that more companies — especially large retailers and manufacturers — should be offering to employees? And do you think it could have any positive effect on the customer’s shopping experience?

Target in Compton helps store employees tackle their personal problems [L.A. Times]