I've been working at my store for a year next month.
I heard a lot of complaints in my first month, so I asked a manager what the deal was, because like you I didn't think it was that bad. He told me it was upper management. They expect too much out of every single employee and lower level manager.
After about four months I pinpointed the issue with my store:
-When we come in at 10pm we have about 5 1/2 hours to throw freight. We should have more, but our meetings run long, two fifteen minute breaks, and an hour and a half to zone.
-In frozen/dairy we normally get 12-27 hours of freight between two people. Sometimes a third person is split between the two departments. Usually one of the people assigned to either will have an additional 1-4 hours of meatwall. On top of this 1-3 hours of picks. We're expected to be done by 5 and zoning by 5:15.
-Other departments get slammed too. I worked a grocery aisle one day that told me I had 2 hours of live freight. It took me 4 hours in addition to the 45 minutes of picks I had and the 2 1/2 hours of picks brought out continuously through the night.
-Because everybody is slammed, asking for help is a crapshoot. I was promised help in my department at 5:30 this morning. It never arrived.
-Usually half of what we downstack in frozen (we have to separate meat, deli, and bakery products, an average of 10-15 minutes/pallet with two people) and attempt to throw is overstock. I was told by an IMS associate that it wasn't supposed to be like that at all. So somebody in daytime is fucking up the order; the same goes for dairy cooler, which is filled so much with overstock you can't stock yogurt from behind.
-Average of 3 people quit or get promoted every month. We have new associates biweekly, most don't last more than a month or two. Some less than a week. Some don't even finish the shift. We're severely understaffed.
-Management cuts our hours to have us come in up to an hour before first break, always before we hit the bonus, which cuts down the time we can get any fucking work done.
-Night management is bullied and harassed by the main managers. I can't think of my higher ups in any capacity outside of work other than exhausted.
-Dayshift doesn't zone or do jack shit.
-Conclusion: too much work, most of it inefficient, and too much beaurocratic bullshit grind people down. We all end up with our thumbs in the dam trying to stem the tide but still get soaked. I understand not all stores are like this, but ours is.