Webinar available on how to support staff dealing with abuse

Please find below a link to a webinar that took place yesterday about dealing with abuse of retail and hospitality staff called ‘Don’t take it out on us – How to support employees in retail and hospitality’. 

Get the recording

Some key points to come out of the webinar include:

  • 28% of employees surveyed by Sonder who delivered the webinar said they had been threatened or assaulted in public.
  • A Retail Trust survey of staff from over 200 retailers in the last quarter of 2023 showed that 41% of retail workers are shouted at, spat on, threatened or hit every week, and 47% are left feeling unsafe at work.  42% are considering changing jobs as a result of the abuse.
  • 64% of those surveyed said confronting a shoplifter had caused that abuse, and these incidents have increased over the last 2 years.
  • The cost of living crisis, mental health, criminality (e.g. armed gangs), behavioural change (increasing polarisation of views and social media trolling) and the changing nature of retail are all factors as to why assaults and abuse of staff have increased.
  • The impact on staff is a decrease in morale, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, being frightened of leaving work and being in the workplace, reducing standards of work and productivity and increasing turnover of staff.  Plus you have a legal duty of care to your employees.
  • The concern is that as the incidents increase, the issue can become normalised and even minimised ‘it’s only verbal abuse’, when it shouldn’t be tolerated.
  • Practical things you can do to support staff:
    • Personal Safety Culture in the workplace – talk about the issue, make sure everyone knows it’s not acceptable, it’s not ok, and it will not be tolerated.
    • Risk Assessments – consider the risks to staff and things you can do to mitigate them and improve things for staff
    • Training – make sure staff know about the risk assessments and what’s in them, what to do in the event of an incident, provide conflict management and de-escalation training (see a free video from the British Retail Consortium here).
    • Report – report every incident both internally (if you are a small business, make sure you keep a record, measure and monitor), and externally to the police
    • Review – after incidents occur, review procedures, risk assessments and amend / update as appropriate.  Make sure staff are kept informed and involved in the process.
    • Post incident support – Make sure you support staff after an incident.  This could include regular contact / check-ins with staff, annual or special leave, signposting to or providing counselling, listening to staff and finding out what support they need, demonstrate what you have done as a result of the incident to show you have taken it seriously and value the safety of staff.
    • Colleague Support – encourage colleagues to look after each other and advise management or senior staff members if they have any concerns about the welfare / wellbeing of a colleague.  Provide training for how to look after others in difficult situations and what to look out for.

If you would like more support dealing with abuse of staff and workplace safety, please get in touch with me, we can arrange training sessions and workshops to support you and your business.