With the UK’s vaccine programme drastically reducing deaths and hospitalisations, it would be tempting to say that we’ve won the war against COVID-19. But this is only half the story. We may have learned to keep the physical symptoms at bay, but there is another side to the virus: its effect on the nation’s mental health.
The pandemic has brought chaos to millions of lives. Business closures and job losses have left many in financial peril. Multiple lockdowns have created an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. All in all, the UK is on the brink of a mental health crisis:
- More than one in five adults experienced depression at the height of the pandemic. This is twice as many as in 2019.
- 35% of people who reported financial difficulty also reported symptoms of depression.
- 55% of people are anxious about returning to normal life after the pandemic.
Retail colleagues need our support
The pandemic has taken an especially heavy toll on mental health in the retail sector. A recent study by the Retail Trust painted a worrying picture:
- 84% of colleagues said that the pandemic had damaged their mental health.
- 50% felt pessimistic about the future.
- Retail colleagues scored an average of 35 on the survey’s happiness scale, compared to a national average of 50.
As stores reopen and life returns to normal, we need to do everything we can to prioritise colleague’s mental health. As well as being the right thing to do from an ethical point of view, this approach also makes financial sense. A recent study found that nearly 40% of UK employees are planning to quit their jobs in 2021. Another found that 85% of Millennials and 91% of Gen-Zers are more likely to work for a company that prioritises mental health. The message is clear. If you want to retain colleagues and attract young talent, you have to take wellbeing seriously.
This is where we can help. Our system tackles the stresses and strains of the shop floor so that colleagues never feel overwhelmed. We do this in three main ways.
Last year we asked retail colleagues to name the hardest parts of their job. Many common problems had the same root cause: a lack of communication:
- 50% of colleagues said that communicating with co-workers was the biggest challenge during the pandemic
- 70% felt isolated from their colleagues
- 47% said that better communication technology was the key to improving productivity
Our headsets allow colleagues to communicate instantly from anywhere in the store. This has a significant effect on wellbeing:
- Colleagues can call for help at the push of a button. Even if they are working alone, they never feel abandoned.
- Full duplex technology allows for natural two-way conversations. Colleagues can chat as easily as they would in person, helping to maintain a sense of team spirit.
- Message casting allows HQ to send messages to all colleagues at once. This ensures that important updates are not missed. Colleagues can rest assured that they are always working with the most up to date information.
Colleague shortages are likely to continue for the rest of the year. As self-isolation guidelines remain in place, you may often find yourself short-handed. This can place a lot of strain on remaining colleagues. Luckily, we can help to ease the pressure:
- Hands-free headsets allow colleagues to answer customer queries while continuing to perform other jobs.
- Personalised voice reminders ensure that colleagues do not forget time-sensitive tasks, even when they are busier than usual.
- Our system can save you up to 105 minutes a day by improving task efficiency. This allows colleagues to get more done in less time so that they never feel overwhelmed by their workload.
Unfortunately, there is another element to the mental health crisis in retail. It seems that many customers responded poorly to the stress of the pandemic, taking out their frustrations on colleagues:
- 90% of colleagues were verbally abused in 2020
- 60% were threatened by customers
- One in ten were physically assaulted
Colleagues have enough to worry about without being victimised by customers. By connecting colleagues to security teams, we hope to provide peace of mind at all times:
- Colleagues can call for backup at the push of a button. Security teams can be informed of incidents as soon as they happen.
- Headsets act as a visible deterrent to antisocial behaviour
- Colleagues feel 52% safer in VoCoVo-equipped stores
Colleague wellbeing is too important to ignore. By focusing on communication, efficiency and safety, you can create a more pleasant environment for everyone. Give us a call to find out more.