A new report by industry charity the Retail Trust has found that one in five (21%) British retail workers and nearly a third (31%) of people working for the UK’s biggest retailers are planning to quit the sector.
The Retail Trust’s survey, of more than 1500 retail staff, published within its new Health of Retail report, found that most of those intending to leave blame concerns around their finances, rising levels of abuse from customers, and deteriorating mental health coming out of the pandemic.
More than eight out of 10 (83%) said they have experienced a decline in their mental health in the last year, with retail workers aged between aged 16-29, those working in distribution and warehouses, and employees of larger retailers found to be struggling the most.
It found that 85% of retail managers also reported an increase in mental health problems among their teams, and more than half (54%) said team members have experienced issues that they felt ill-equipped to deal with. A quarter (26%) of retail managers say they also want to leave the industry.
The Retail Trust also interviewed leaders of 20 household name retailers for its report, and worked with employee engagement platform WorkL to assess the wellbeing of a further 4500 retail workers, which found that retail is one of the unhappiest industries to work in, compared to other sectors.
Despite the declining levels of mental health across the workforce, half of the retail leaders that the Retail Trust spoke to said they believed the wellbeing of employees had improved over the last year, and nearly a third said they believed it had stayed the same.
The Retail Trust has now joined forces with Microsoft, WorkL and business and technology firm BJSS to create the first retail wellbeing and happiness index, launched at Retail Week Live, which will allow retailers to track the progress of any measures to help improve the wellbeing of employees.
Chris Brook-Carter, chief executive of the Retail Trust, says: “People working in retail have moved from one period of turmoil to another. They are exhausted after two years of a global pandemic and are now facing a world dominated by a brutal war while coming to terms with a cost of living that threatens to put our standards of living back decades.
“We believe the retail industry is committed to improving workplace wellbeing, but our research shows there’s a clear gap between how retailers think their employees are feeling and the reality. A worrying 83% of retail workers have experienced a deterioration in their mental health, and too few line mangers say they are equipped to deal with this. This poses a serious long-term challenge as more and more people turn away from the sector. The retail industry must foster a happy and healthy workforce if it is to attract and retain the talent it needs to survive and thrive.”