We take a look at how to support retail teams through lockdown and beyond.
The effects of the pandemic on the nation’s retail team members have been enormous and the consequences far-reaching. A large portion of workers within the sector found themselves designated as keyworkers, with all the pressures that came with providing essential services to the public. Another group have found themselves furloughed or with reduced hours, along with the financial and mental repercussions of those.
We take a look at some of the ways team members might have been affected, how to support them now and in the future and how looking after your teams’ wellbeing will have a positive effect on your business.
Within the retail sector, the annual cost of poor mental health to employers is between £1,045 and £1,601 per person per year and 36% of retail employees have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. These figures will be worse after the intense pressures of the last year and demonstrate the importance of prioritising employee wellbeing. By supporting team mental and emotional wellbeing, employers will build a workforce that are more engaged with the business, less likely to need extended periods of time off for sickness and feel more valued. This is especially important when there is a big change, such as the announcement of restrictions or lockdown, or on returning to work.
One of the ways in which employers can implement support is through the offering and signposting of tools and resources that raise awareness, support mental wellbeing and build communication. Below we outline some of the free resources you can utilise to get you started.
There are a number of challenges facing retail workers that could have an impact on mental wellbeing. According to Retailtrust, UK retail workers have reported their mental wellbeing to be lower than that of employees in both education and law. For those working to deliver essential services, there are ongoing concerns around personal safety and the threat of abuse. Abuse, threats and assaults against shopworkers have doubled during the pandemic, which will increase team members anxiety about working – especially when dealing with stock shortages and enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing guidance. For team members that are furloughed concerns around job security and being isolated from friends and family may be impacting on mental wellbeing. Employers need to continually keep lines of communication open to be able to support their teams with these pressures and concerns.
Employers should be prepared to take action to support any team members that are struggling as well as create an environment where employees feel they are able to talk openly about their mental health as well as support colleagues who are struggling.
Early last year we made some of our own online resources free to ensure employers could access resources to support teams. Our Personal Resilience and Mental Health Support Champion courses enable team members to identify the signs of mental ill-health, consider personal wellbeing and how to support colleagues to seek help if needed.
More than 125,000 retail jobs were lost last year, and millions of workers who haven’t lost their jobs are now facing another extended period of furlough. Now many months down the line, there may be more financial pressure if people aren’t able to continue to access mortgage or other payment holidays that they did in the first lockdown. And with many people feeling not feeling like their job is secure while lockdown continues, even if they are not financially struggling now, may be concerned about the future. Last year, we teamed up with Wagestream to produce a free Roadmap to Financial Improvement that helps people with building financial resilience and links to further support.