Workplace Profiles

2021 Thriving Workplace Score

Rank

#10

of 19

Retail trade

65.4/100

+2.3

65.4

+2.3

0
100

The Retail trade industry includes motor vehicle, fuel, food, furniture, sporting goods, hardware, clothing and pharmaceutical retailing.

Graph – Thriving Score and Domain Score for the Retail Trade Industry over time

Industry Thriving Score: Progress over Time

The Retail industry saw good gains in all five thriving domains in 2021 and is now sitting just below the national average with a score of 65.4 out of 100.

Of particular note is a large increase in the policy domain of 4.4 points to 64.3, reflecting the many changes in processes and policies this industry has undergone throughout the pandemic.

Connectedness remained the highest scoring domain at 68.9, showing workers in the industry work as a team and support and respect each other.

What’s working well

2021 saw strong improvements in retail workplaces having effective bullying and harassment policies, as well as providing access to confidential counselling and support. Workplaces have also done well in helping staff feel connected and committed to their team.

Graph – Thriving Score and Domain Score for the Retail trade industry over time

Areas to focus on

Workers want to support each other but they need the skills

Retail workplaces can focus on making sure staff have the knowledge and skills to support each other’s mental health and wellbeing. The good news is there’s already a culture of teamwork and support in the industry, so once workers’ capability is uplifted they will be able to leverage this culture to support their colleagues’ mental health.

What you can do?

The good news is there are lots of options to improve mental health literacy and peer support capability. Free resources are available through organisations such as R U OK?

Check out the RUOK? website

SuperFriend’s Peer Support Booklet provides practical suggestions to individuals for listening to, and supporting, work colleagues who may be experiencing issues with their mental health.

Download the SuperFriend Peer Support Booklet

Or if you’re interested in training, some great options are SuperFriend’s Understanding Mental Health and Wellbeing presentation or Workplace Mental Health Essentials for All Staff online course, which focus on understanding mental health and illness, self-care, and peer support.

Check out our mental health training options
Learn more about how SuperFriend can help

Help workers find meaning in their work

Another area for improvement is around helping workers find purpose and meaning in their roles. Workers already feel committed to their team and workplace, with 67.6% intending to stay with their employer, but they currently score lower on feeling supported to find purpose and meaning in their work.

What you can do

A great way to support workers to find purpose and meaning in their roles is to encourage job crafting. Job crafting is when workers adjust elements of their jobs to make them more enjoyable. This improves engagement, job satisfaction, and resilience.

For more information listen to Amy Wrzesniewski, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Yale School of Management speak.

YouTube: Amy Wrzesniewski on Job Crafting

Check out SuperFriend’s Be Your Best at Work: Positive Strategies for Success course, which provides individuals with knowledge and skills to promote engagement and enjoyment in their work.

Be Your Best at Work: Positive Strategies for Success course
Learn more about this course

Within this industry…

58.5%

of workers have experienced a mental health condition* in the last 12 months
*Refer to Technical report notes

51.4%

of workers feel their workplace is highly supportive of workers’ mental health and wellbeing

67.6%

of workers plan to stay with their workplace for the next 12 months

Psychosocial Risk Profile

Psychosocial risks are workplace operations that increase stress and reduce mental wellbeing.
Read more

Inappropriate workload

2.4

Low recognition

2.5

Poor change management

2.4

Poor management support

2.4

Low job control

2.4

Poor role clarity

2.3

Poor workplace relationships

2.2

Poor working environment

2.2

Traumatic events

2.1

Key:

Table – Psychosocial Risk Profile for Retail trade industry

Highest Psychosocial Risk

The highest psychosocial risk facing the Retail trade industry is low recognition.

How can you manage this risk?

Being recognised for good work is vital for workers to feel valued and can impact their mental health. Leaders can make a big difference in this area and create a culture of recognition by:

  • Praising great work and effort right away
  • Displaying acts of appreciation towards employees at the end of their shift (e.g., Thank you for your hard work today)
  • Regularly and publicly celebrating successes (e.g., customer satisfaction ratings, % of on-time deliveries)
  • Rewarding star performers with personalised gifts (e.g., gift card based on a brand they like), and
  • Sending staff a personalised thank you email or card.

Key Insight

Abusive customers are a disturbing reality for retail workers

Retail is an essential part of every community, and the largest employer of young people, yet many workers face violence or bullying while trying to do their jobs. Nearly 1 in 6 (16%) retail workers experienced violence from customers and other external workplace contacts in the last year. It’s even more common if you’re a woman (19%) or aged 18-24 years (22%). Workplace bullying is also common, affecting 15% of all retail workers. This includes bullying from customers, suppliers and even colleagues! Workers aged 45-54 experienced more bullying than any other age group in the last year (19%), closely followed by younger workers aged 18-24 (17%).

It’s important to remember that these are real people – mums, dads, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons – who are being abused while providing much-needed services to their communities. They’re paying a heavy price too: three quarters (75%) of retail workers who faced workplace violence and bullying experienced a mental health condition in the last 12 months, and 61% of those believe their current workplace caused it or made it worse.

Customers are extremely nasty and they don’t care how they treat the staff. They just lash out at the staff and then I take it home with me, can’t sleep, and worry about it for days.”

Key Insight

Productivity takes a hit when violence and bullying occur

Retail workers who have experienced workplace violence and bullying are less productive than those who have not. These workers reportedly feel “burnt out, exhausted and dread every shift” and that “some days it doesn’t seem worth the tears”. Their work suffers, which affects business overall.

Workers experience lower job satisfaction, lower commitment to the job, higher absenteeism as well as reduced morale and motivation. Unfortunately, these experiences also take a toll workers’ physical health and personal lives. Reports from workers have said that some customer encounters increase anxiety and negatively affect their sleep. These incidents can manifest into longer lasting symptoms of stress disorder, mental health issues, anxiety and depression.

With Christmas shopping in full swing, this is something to think about next time you are interacting with retail workers. Kindness goes a long way and ‘making a scene’ is unnecessary – there is no situation where it is okay for customers to compromise retail workers’ mental or physical health.

Customers are extremely nasty and they don’t care how they treat the staff. They just lash out at the staff and then I take it home with me, can’t sleep, and worry about it for days.”

Key Insight

Workplaces need to put their workers first

Business leaders and owners have a responsibility for the safety of all their workers, and that means physical and mental safety. However, only 41% of retail workers who were bullied and 65% of people who experienced violence reported what happened. Do they feel their concerns won’t be taken seriously, or worse still, are they concerned they will be shamed for making a report? It’s one thing to have a great policy in place, but it’s another to know your manager, leader or supervisor will have your back. Creating an environment where workers feel safe enough to report customer incidents, and confident that they will be handled appropriately, is absolutely critical.

Many of the retail workers who experienced customer abuse in the last year are considering working for other retailers (37%) and/or leaving the retail industry altogether (44%). If this mass exodus of retail workers takes place, the remaining staff will face even more pressure from customers due to being short-staffed and needing to training new starters. Customer service levels are likely to decline, potentially prompting increased customer abuse. With that in mind, it’s time to change the retail mantra that puts customers first, because the customer is not always right. Retail workers have every right to feel valued and respected from their customers, suppliers, colleagues and managers. Anything less is not acceptable.

What can you do

There are many strategies to support retail workers regarding workplace violence and bullying from management, customers, suppliers and colleagues.

Managers, leaders and supervisors need to make sure they are providing a work environment that supports the organisational goals, meets the bottom line and also takes care of the worker. Wellbeing is everyone’s business. Effective approaches that could be explored include:

  • Having a clear policy that outlines the organisation’s position against violence and bullying and provide training that supports the policy
  • Leading by example and demonstrating a clear commitment to identifying, preventing and responding to workplace violence and bullying
  • Monitoring incident reports, complaints, claims, patterns of absenteeism, sick leave and staff turnover to establish a pattern or review sudden changes
  • Building a relationship of trust with staff through connecting with workers and taking time to compliment great work, as well as acknowledging when workers have managed tough situations
  • Providing opportunities to debrief after difficult conversations and challenging situations
  • Including role play scenarios into meetings as an opportunity for workers to practise and share their skills with their peers when managing challenging situations
  • Developing clear guidelines about what to do if violence or bullying occurs at work, and making sure this is regularly explained at meetings or via internal communication
  • Making sure workers know they have a confidential space to report violence and bullying behaviours and these will be taken seriously
  • Having open and regular communication about mental health services with workers to reduce stigma, and making sure all staff have information about the organisation’s EAP, as well as other support services
  • Participating in activities or events aimed at reducing stigma about mental health and in promoting positive behaviours
  • Identifying and creating job adjustments for workers who have experienced violence and/or bullying in the workplace to feel safe and supported
  • Developing customer, supplier and employee awareness campaigns which may include having signs that support positive interactions and ways of behaving
  • Holding regular scheduled discussions about culture and workplace behaviour at management meetings, board meetings, staff meetings and health and safety meetings, and
  • Including team building activities into each quarter as a way to connect to workers and to build trust.

Learn More

Read SuperFriend’s blog The 11 most impactful actions for improving worker wellbeing.

The 11 most impactful actions for improving worker wellbeing: SuperFriend

Read SuperFriend’s How to spot someone in distress blog.

How to spot someone in distress: SuperFriend

You can read more about starting a conversation in SuperFriend’s The art of checking in blog.

The art of checking in: SuperFriend

Developing the skills for all staff, including leadership in managing difficult conversations by enrolling in SuperFriend’s Managing Challenging Interactions for All Staff course.

Managing Challenging Interactions for All Staff
Learn more about this course

Increase leaders understanding of mental health to help them connect with their workers through learning at SuperFriend’s Workplace Mental Health Essentials for Leaders course.

Workplace Mental Health Essentials for Leaders
Learn more about this course

Read Heads Up’s tips to develop strategies for a healthy workplace.

Strategies for healthy workplaces: Heads Up

Learn how to have an ROUK conversation.

How to ask “Are you OK?”: RU OK?

Learn More

Read SuperFriend’s blog The 11 most impactful actions for improving worker wellbeing.

The 11 most impactful actions for improving worker wellbeing: SuperFriend

Read SuperFriend’s How to spot someone in distress blog.

How to spot someone in distress: SuperFriend

Read more about how to start a conversation in SuperFriend’s blog, The art of checking in.

The art of checking in: SuperFriend

Developing the skills for all staff, including leadership in managing difficult conversations by enrolling in SuperFriend’s Managing Challenging Interactions for All Staff course.

Managing Challenging Interactions for All Staff
Learn more about this course

Increase leaders understanding of Mental Health to help them connect with their workers through learning at SuperFriend’s Workplace Mental Health Essentials for Leaders course.

Workplace Mental Health Essentials for Leaders
Learn more about this course

Learn how to have an ROUK conversation.

How to ask “Are you OK?”: RU OK?

Read Heads Up’s tips to develop strategies for a healthy workplace.

Strategies for healthy workplaces: Heads Up

Tips for retail workers

It is important that our workplace supports the challenges that may happen in the workday. As a retail worker, you can have a direct impact on your ability to manage circumstances through the following strategies.

Try to detach from what is being said, not to take it personally and maintain a professional manner in your exchange.

Don’t tolerate continued violence or bullying from anyone; seek assistance if you find yourself in this situation and are feeling overwhelmed.

Understand your organisation’s policy and procedures about workplace violence and bullying, and ask your manager, leader or supervisor about this, if you are unsure.

Read about SuperFriend’s blog The five ways to wellbeing to improve your mental health and wellbeing everyday and try SuperFriend’s free 15 minute Wellbeing check-in and action plan.

The five ways to wellbeing: SuperFriend
Wellbeing check-in and action plan: SuperFriend

Access your organisation’s EAP, alongside other support services, such as an organisational wellbeing and safety app like Sonder.

Sonder’s mission is to build a world where people feel accepted, supported, and heard anytime , day or night – for safety, medical or mental health.

Wellbeing support for your organisation: Sonder

Explore the National Retail Association website. They champion awareness and look for ways to address issues that impact the health and wellbeing of retail workers.

Essential workers, essential support | Retail health and wellbeing: National Retail Association

Heads Up have a number of ways to care for yourself, or others in your workplace.

For employees: Heads Up

Understand and learn more about stress via Kelly McGonigal’s How to make stress your friend TED talk.

How to make stress your friend: TED

Learn more about mindfulness to switch off and disconnect from work.

What is mindfulness?: Smiling Mind