An initiative to improve the well-being of retail staff across the UK and help them feel happier and more appreciated has been launched by the retail confidence and Microsoft.
There are around three million people working in the retail sector across the UK, making it one of the largest employment sectors in the economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on frontline staff and their families, with the Retail Trust revealing that it gave out £800,000 in financial aid in 2021, double the amount in 2020. In the last two years, more over a quarter of a million people accessed Retail Trust’s digital self-help support and helpline, and the organization provided more than 14,000 counseling sessions.
Now Retail Trust plans to launch a series of digital tools, content and courses on physical, mental and financial health to help more employees enjoy a long and happy career in the industry. These preventive and curative services will use Microsoft services like Teams, Dynamics 365, Azure, Sharepoint, and Power BI, and hosted on a variety of platforms to ensure help reaches employees in the way that works best for them.
The trust also seeks to create a retail wellness index that will give retailers insight into their wellness performance and allow them to compare it to others. By combining anonymous data and relevant third-party information, companies can see how they compare on topics like workforce diversity, employee retention and attrition, and absenteeism. They can also see upcoming trends as well as see recommended actions to improve the well-being of their staff.
Poppie Foakes, Director of Product and Innovation at the Retail Trust, said: “The retail industry is at a crisis point, with many workers choosing to leave the industry with no plans to return. With the war for talent – and retention – now spiraling, the retail industry must choose to make their teams happier, feel more appreciated, and genuinely care about their well-being. This must be driven by leadership, and managers at all levels must be empowered and focused on the health and well-being of colleagues.”
The Retail Trust, Microsoft and the digital platform WorkL they are organizing a hackathon in Retail Week Live in London on May 24 and 25. Participants will be tasked with analyzing the anonymized industry to understand the scale of the happiness problem in the retail industry, visualize their findings, and identify areas of concern for retail leaders.
The results of the hack will contribute to the first Retail Wellbeing Index.
Howard Lewis, director of retail, consumer goods, travel and transport at Microsoft UK, said: “The retail sector has been on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, providing communities with vital products and services. However, the unprecedented challenges have affected the well-being of the staff. Microsoft is working with the Retail Trust to provide digital tools and services that can empower retail leaders to better understand the people on their teams and deliver the right support, at the right time.”