The pandemic has given the UK job market its biggest shake up in years. As with most major changes, there have been winners and losers. Job vacancies are at an all time high, shifting the balance of power in favour of employees. The average wage has increased by 3% as employers scramble to fill over 1.2 million roles.
There is also positive news when it comes to employment rates. There are now 120,000 more people in work than there were before the pandemic, and the overall unemployment rate has dropped to 4.5%.
Unfortunately, not everyone has been so lucky. While the overall picture is one of growth and prosperity, things have been tougher in the retail sector:
- Almost 190,000 retail jobs were lost between March 2020 and March 2021
- Over 15,000 stores went out of business during the same period
Smaller teams are here to stay
Even if you’ve managed to avoid redundancies, you may still face colleague shortages this winter. While we are a long way from the horrors of the “pingdemic”, those who test positive for COVID-19 are still required to self-isolate. Experts also believe that we are in for a harsh winter flu season thanks to lower immunity in the population.
All of this means that you should expect frequent colleague absences, often at short notice. This can put remaining colleagues in a precarious position. Colleagues in smaller teams are more likely to be left alone with customers, and this makes them feel unsafe:
- 37% of colleagues feel vulnerable when they are outnumbered by customers
- 33% fear for their safety when working alone
- 33% feel unsafe when they are unable to contact the rest of the team
These fears are not unfounded. One of the most disappointing aspects of the pandemic was a surge in abusive behaviour from customers:
- 90% of retail colleagues were verbally abused
- 60% were threatened with violence
- Almost one in ten were physically assaulted
This is completely unacceptable. Everyone should feel safe at work, regardless of the size of their team. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to protect colleagues when numbers are tight. Here’s how:
Contact security from anywhere
Relying on a tannoy system to call for security is far from ideal. By the time a colleague has managed to summon help, it may already be too late.
A tannoy announcement is also very public. In the case of an abusive customer, a colleague could make themselves a target by raising the alarm. Our Headsets solve this problem by offering the perfect combination of efficiency and discretion:
- Colleagues can contact security directly at the push of a button.
- Headsets provide a crystal-clear signal from anywhere in store. Colleagues can speak at a normal volume without drawing attention to themselves.
- Our conference feature allows you to create a separate channel for security. This ensures that colleagues can get straight through to the security team in an emergency.
- Telephony integration allows both colleagues and security teams to call emergency services from the shop floor. You can even set up a panic alarm to be triggered by a certain word.
- Headsets are easily visible. Customers can see that colleagues are connected to security, and this acts as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour.
Support checkout colleagues
Checkout colleagues are especially vulnerable to customer abuse. They are tied to a certain area, making it difficult to seek help if a situation escalates.
To make matters worse, checkout delays are a common flashpoint for customer anger. In our recent survey, over a fifth of customers admitted to shouting at colleagues. Waiting too long to be served was the most common reason, accounting for 30% of incidents.
Our keypads are a lifeline for checkout colleagues:
- Colleagues can call for assistance as soon as an issue arises
- Keypads are split into several categories, allowing colleagues to specify the nature of their problem
- Two-way conversation allows checkout colleagues to explain the situation further as help approaches
Whether you have two colleagues or two hundred, we’ve got your back. Contact our team today and let us take care of yours.