Mental Health and Wellbeing for Retail staff

By Craig Bulow, Corporate Away Days

In an industry where positive customer experience is paramount to success, employees’ mental wellbeing needs to be looked after so that retail professionals can handle problems and unhappy/challenging customers. This requires a high level of resilience, self-discipline and self-management. As we know Retail can be very stressful especially during the Covid-19 crisis.  You may be seeing this sapping employees’ energy and motivation.

There is some recent research which I found fascinating. It revealed that over 50% of the 2,000 retail workers questioned could not recognise the signs of someone needing emotional support, and around 25% would not feel confident approaching an upset colleague.

It was every encouraging that it led to seven leading retailers joining together to improve the mental wellbeing of staff, with the help of the Samaritans, to develop “Wellbeing in Retail”.

This has been designed to help retail workers look after their own mental health, give advice on how to support others who may be struggling and signpost where to go for extra help.

Here are SIX suggestions for implanting/maintaining mental health in your retail business

1.Use traditional methods like job rotation, training in different departments, swapping hours and shifts, staff break out areas etc. They have their place in creating interest and engagement.

2.Good communication between all levels of staff – on a work and also on a personal level. Reliance on texting/messaging can have negative effects. We need team members to talk.

3.Invest in your employee’s with support from Wellbeing coaches and mental health professionals who specialise in retail. Give individuals including senior leaders the tools to go back into the business and share with co-workers.

In addition, engagement in the role / team / company can be tackled by building a fun place to work. This can be done with a range of activities – some currently limited by Government advice but which can be planned for the future:

4.Bring your staff together. Have an away day with a wellbeing theme. This connects them in a unique way as a team, out of their working environment, and allows them to open up and be themselves. Creating excitement before the event, a buzz on the shop floor, discussions and something to look forward to.

5.Make you staff feel appreciated. Have an employee of the month award with a trophy given out, offer an extra hour in bed, a positive message board where employees add and discuss positive messages on the day or week.

6. Have an Idea board, post -it notes with ideas how to improve the customer experience. This empowers your staff, let them feel like they make a difference. Make a competition out of it. The best idea gets rewarded.

From my experience building such activities into your way of conducting business will not only improve morale, engagement and inspiration, they’ll help maintain them at a high level.

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