There’s a wellbeing ‘crisis’ in retail – the Retail Trust is using data and the cloud to tackle it

An initiative to improve the wellbeing of retail staff across the UK and help them feel happier and more appreciated has been launched by the Retail Trust 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 it handed out £800,000 in financial aid in 2021 – double the amount in 2020. Over the past two years, more than a quarter of a million people accessed the Retail Trust’s helpline and digital self-help support, and the organisation delivered over 14,000 counselling sessions.

Now, the 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 sector. These preventative and curative services will use Microsoft services such as Teams, Dynamics 365, Azure, Sharepoint and Power BI, and hosted on a range of platforms to ensure help is reaching employees in a way that suits them.

The trust is also looking to create a Retail Wellbeing Index that will give retailers a view of their wellbeing performance and let them compare it with others. Combining anonymised data and relevant third-party information, companies can see how they compare on topics such as workforce diversity, employee retention and attrition, and absenteeism. They can also view upcoming trends, as well as see recommended actions to improve wellbeing among 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 retaining it – now spiralling, the retail industry must choose to make their teams happier, feel more appreciated and truly care for their wellbeing. This needs to be driven by the leadership, and managers at all levels need to be trained and focused upon colleagues’ health and wellbeing.”

There are around three million people working in the retail sector across the UK

The Retail Trust, Microsoft and digital platform WorkL are running a hackathon at Retail Week Live in London on May 24 and 25. Participants will be tasked with analysing anonymised industry to understand the scale of the happiness problem across the retail industry, visualise their findings and pinpoint areas of concerns for retail leaders.

The results of the hack will contribute to the first Retail Wellbeing Index.

Howard Lewis, Head of Retail, Consumer Goods, Travel and Transport at Microsoft UK, said: “The retail sector has been on the frontline of the COVID pandemic, providing communities with vital products and services. However, the unprecedented challenges have taken a toll on the wellbeing of staff. Microsoft is working with the Retail Trust to provide digital tools and services that can empower retail leaders to better understand individuals in their teams and offer the right support, at the right time.”

Click here to learn more about improving wellness in retail.