I came across a post that purports to be from an Apple front-line employee this week. It’s always interesting to get insider views from major companies – particularly ones like Apple which like to carefully manage their public image and fiercely guard their corporate secrets. I have no idea if this account is legitimate, but assuming it is there are several insights that I gained from the post:

  • First and foremost, Apple seems to be as prickly and protective about company secrets with its employees as with consumers and news media. Based on this account Apple store employees appear to get little or no warning of major announcements – presumably to avoid leaks.
  • Along the same lines, Apple management clearly enforces strict rules on everything from sales restrictions to product information. So the casual, cool atmosphere of stores apparently doesn’t preclude fairly strict protocol on staff behavior.
  • Apple seems to make special effort to involve staff in product launches (once the information is public) through special briefing sessions, store events and training.
  • Though this employee feels pressured to sell – something true of any retail environment – he/she acknowledges the effort Apple makes to support and encourage staff in their efforts. Some of the activities are what you would expect from an uber-hip company like Apple – a masseuse on site, ordering in food, etc. It also appears staff get bonuses for the brutal hours during product launches.
  • For better or for worse, Apple seems to be doing a good job promoting their culture  and credo (what the staffer calls a cult) through collateral, training sessions and management reminders. This writer isn’t quite sure they like the taste of the cool-aid.
  • The staffer mentions the lure of becoming one of Apple’s famed “genius” staff, which suggests there is opportunity for advancement…and presumably commensurate benefits in reaching that position.

Overall, this seems like a fairly exciting workplace with pros and cons. It’s interesting to note the staffer barely mentions things that are often hailed as Apple’s workplace assets – including free/cheap use of products, pride in working for a global leader and an atmosphere of innovation. That’s a good reminder that all jobs are ultimately judged through our personal perspective and day-to-day activities.