Apple Store

When you think Apple, you undoubtedly imagine the Cupertino headquarters where real geniuses are hard at work on your next favorite gadget. But the reality is most of Apple’s employees belong to its retail chains, and they are paid hourly just like anyone else.

The New York Times has taken another dive into life as an Apple employee. It famously stirred controversy for the company when it released the first in its iEconomy series — a deep look into Apple’s Foxconn supplier and the factory workers employed there. Now, it gives us a deep look into Apple’s retail culture, and the ratio of profits to paychecks these in-store “specialists” receive.

Apple retail employees are paid around $11.25 an hour. They are not offered commissions but do receive nice benefits, including health insurance, a 401K, as well as discounts on products. That’s higher than the nation’s minimum wage, and oftentimes hourly workers aren’t provided benefits. But The New York Times points out that Apple’s stores make a lot more than your average retail-based company. If you look at revenue divided by the number of retail employees, each employee made $473,000 for the company last year.

The iPhone maker is the biggest company in the world by market cap. It raked in $4.4 billion from its retail stores in the company’s second fiscal quarter of 2012. And according to a recent study, Apple restocks its retail shelves every five days — that’s on par with a food chain like McDonald’s, which has perishable items.

It seems Apple’s stores really bank on morale and the spirit of helping others. Training is where it starts, according to The New York Times, when managers stand and clap for new employees who enter the room. Employees are made to feel like they are a part of a bigger Apple culture, that they are helping people find great products that will enrich their lives. Apple looks for youthful people, though the company says it does not discriminate based on age. But what retailer doesn’t want employees who are cheap to insure, energized, and are happy to live on less?

Apple managers encourage employees to stay for six years, but according to the report, employees generally leave after two and a half. These employees come in sprightly and excited but leave after realizing a career path with this giant company really isn’t feasible from the retail level.

Perhaps it’s not evidence of another evil within Apple but rather a disappointment born out of big expectations. You go in hoping for Disney World but find even the less interesting rides still have lines.

via The New York Times; Apple image via Steve Parker/Flickr