GameStop Challenges Employees To TikTok Dance Contest To Earn Extra Hours During Black Friday

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GameStop Challenges Employees To TikTok Dance Contest To Earn Extra Hours During Black Friday
Photo: Jim Watson, Getty Images

There’s something about Black Friday that seems to bring out the worst in GameStop’s corporate leadership, and this year the video game retailer has found a bizarre new way to appear petty and out of touch. The company has invited employees to submit dance videos in the hopes of winning prizes that include extra work hours during that holiday shopping week.

“Be creative, rope in your team, and have fun with it! Don’t worry, you can’t look as bad as the event team does!” reads the prompt for one of GameStop’s latest employee contests, the Incisiv TikTok Dance Challenge. Stores are supposed to send their best #redwinechallenge videos (any dance routine that’s set to UB40’s “Red Red Wine”) to the marketing firm Incisiv. The winning store will then get awarded an Echo 8, Echo Auto, $US100 ($140) Visa gift card, and “10 additional labour hours” to use during Black Friday week.

“Imagine what you could do with all those prizes!” the contest reads. The company’s event team posted its own #redwinechallenge video on YouTube on October 28 as an example for stores to follow:

GameStop did not respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.

Like lots of retailers, GameStop stores have a limited number of total hours employees can work in a given period. Even if a manager wanted to give out extra shifts around an especially busy time, like say, Black Friday, they wouldn’t be able to exceed whatever their monthly budget was. As anyone who’s ever worked retail knows, work that can’t get done during the allotted number of hours still needs to get done, it just goes unpaid. It’s also wage theft and different forms of it total an estimated $US15 ($21) billion annually in money that’s taken from workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Hours have always been a sensitive subject for the managers,” one former GameStop employee told Kotaku. “They’re typically running their stores off strict hour allotments which causes the managers to overwork themselves or run their stores with limited help.”

GameStop has been criticised in the past for keeping its stores open on Thanksgiving Day in order to get a headstart on Black Friday shopping, but unlike last year the company will keep its doors closed this time around. Instead, the TikTok contest comes at a time when stores are preparing for the launch of a new set of consoles even as the rate of new covid cases begins to spike again across the country. “Some of us have holiday help to hire and train in 3 weeks and prefer to not be on tik tok,” one apparent employee wrote on the GameStop subreddit.

Earlier this year, Gamestop tried to call itself an “essential business” during the pandemic, in order to stay open as state governments ordered shutdowns. They did so while the company’s employees called it out over a lack of resources and procedures needed to operate more safely. In a September earnings call, GameStop CFO Jim Bell (who makes $US700,000 ($977,760) a year just in salary) announced the closure of 100 more stores through the end of the year.

Comments

  • Dance monkey dance. If as an employee you participate in this you deserve all the poor treatment you get. People who who along with this crap just encourage the heads to keep doing it.

    • Indeed.

      I had an ex who worked at both Gamestop in America and then also EB when she moved here. The ‘voluntary’ unpaid hours she said was much worse in her experience at Gamestop, but there was definitely the expectation of it here still.

      I also knew a guy who was a manager of an EB here too, he eventually quit and moved onto a better job largely because he didn’t consider shit like midnight launches, or work to be done before major releases or holidays should be seen as ‘voluntary’ and go unpaid… Go figure. Was always getting in trouble for going over his stores allotted hours because of it, and I think the only reason he lasted as long as he did before quitting was that the store’s location was fairly isolated so a manager from another store couldn’t just rock up to take over if they canned him.

  • If there’s all this wage theft (“volunteer hours”) going on, why hasn’t there been a big expose like with 7-11 or Calombaris’s restaurants? Sounds like there should be.

    • If I remember rightly Mark Serrels was investigating EB doing it a few years back. I feel like it might have been taken to the ACCC? Either way, I cannot for the life of me remember what the outcome of the investigation was.

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