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How can HR monitor retail workers’ mental health?

Mental health at the workplace is increasingly being viewed as a key aspect of the overall wellbeing and success of employees and organisations. In the retail… View Article


How can HR monitor retail workers’ mental health?

Mental health at the workplace is increasingly being viewed as a key aspect of the overall wellbeing and success of employees and organisations. In the retail industry, where employees experience a range of exceptional challenges ranging from high-pressure environments to client-driven service provision, retail workers’ mental health issues are equally critical. 

The mental wellbeing of retail employees is affected by a multitude of factors, both internal and external, such as poor facilities or the cost of living crisis. In 2023 the Retail Trust reported that more than half of retail workers (52%), say the escalating costs associated with living expenses are adversely affecting their mental wellbeing.

To be competitive in today’s retail industry, you must prioritise the mental health of your employees.

Through their positions, chief executives and HR professionals can facilitate early intervention, support, prevention and wellbeing strategies that contribute to an overall positive working environment. As an HR professional, it is your responsibility to pay attention to the mental wellbeing of your workforce in order to guarantee the overall success of your business. 

This blog will discuss why the mental health of employees in retail is equally vital, and the strategies that HR may use to monitor retail workers’ mental health and take supportive actions. 

How can HR support retail employees’ mental health?

HR managers are the critical point in establishing a work environment that encourages employee mental wellbeing. Proactive HR initiatives accompanied by professional monitoring techniques can help HRs promote the mental health of retail workers.

A study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that investing in mental health services not only improves employee health but also pays economic dividends.

HR Initiatives for improving workplace wellbeing

By effectively managing mental wellbeing in the workplace, retailers can better safeguard their workforce and set their employee offerings apart from competitors by offering better work-life balance conditions.

A good starting point for HR teams to establish a mental health support retail strategy is by embracing the three-pronged approach advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Preventing risks to mental health;
  • Protecting and promoting mental health by strengthening the capacities of managers;
  • Supporting retail workers with mental health conditions to thrive in their work environment.

As a result, the organisations have initiated several initiatives as discussed and highlighted below:

  • Campaign on a positive workplace culture: Campaigning for a positive workplace culture will involve free and active communication while destigmatising the nature of mental illness. Besides, promoting a culture of openness and compassion through a safe environment where workers feel they can seek help and support is critical.
  • Implementing HR policies and support systems: Retailers can provide employees with mental health support through HR policies and work-life support systems. Offer flexible scheduling, ensure access to mental health resources 24/7. Provide an employee assistance programme for one-on-one, confidential counselling on personal or work-related issues.
  • Supporting employee development and engagement: Morale and sense of belonging in retail organisations can be increased through reward schemes and employee recognition programs with unique approaches. As a result, employees feel valued and appreciated at the workplace, which enhances their job satisfaction and likelihood to engage.
  • Leveraging digital innovation for mental health support: Finally, the last modern feature of the digital transformation in HR is the usage of technology to support their workers’ mental health and wellbeing. Virtual counselling sessions facilitate convenient and private help. Digital HR solutions allow for a more proactive approach to the problem and can compile multiple metrics to identify mental issues and intervene. Moreover, there are apps, boards, and whole online education systems for every aspect of mental health. All this can help a worker self-manage their physical and mental wellbeing.

By implementing these holistic HR initiatives, retailers can proactively address the mental health needs of their employees. This will create a supportive and nurturing environment where employees can thrive both personally and professionally.

How can HR monitor and measure mental health in retail?

Retail HR departments must emphasise the need to develop and implement strong and systematic strategies for monitoring and measuring the mental wellbeing of their staff. In order to accomplish this, retail HR professionals must stay abreast of HR trends and use the right tools to acquire adequate data to act beforehand in detecting cases when problem measures are necessary. 

Here are a few of them to consider:

  • Conduct eNPS surveys: eNPS surveys capture employee satisfaction. They measure the probability of whether workers would suggest their organisation as a good place to work based on the above information. With frequent surveys, HR staff can measure employees’ engagement, get a sense of their general attitudes towards the workplace, and detect potential issues. Obtaining such data allows for specific and relevant interventions geared towards promoting staff mental health and happiness.
  • Use of digital tools: As the world continues to go digital, there are numerous digital tools and platforms that can be used to implement stress management and reduce stress. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) provide employees with an opportunity to receive confidential counselling and other mental health resources. For example, virtual counselling is a digital tool that makes mental health support available on demand. Such digital resources are important as they guarantee easy access to tools and resources that can contribute to employees’ mental health.
  • Employee surveys: Another way to utilise employee surveys is to monitor levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace and get an overall picture of workers’ mental health. For example, questions to capture mental health and wellbeing concepts can be added to standard general workforce surveys. By doing so, line management and HR teams can have clear information about whether or not employees are content and if there is a need for concerns in terms of mental health and safety. 
  • Measuring employee retention metrics and absenteeism rates: These factors can serve as important indicators of poor mental health conditions at the workplace. In some cases, drastic changes from the norm can inform human resources departments of possible issues of stress and burnout at the workplace. Regular monitoring of patterns of these trends can also help prioritise prevention methods.

Support your employees’ mental and physical health and develop a retail company culture that is supportive and holistic. You can find more resources on how to tackle mental health in retail in our Employee Mental Health Toolkit For Retail HR article.

Examples of retailers tackling mental health

Several retailers have implemented initiatives to support the mental health of their employees, ranging from mental health training programmes to the creation of advisory boards dedicated to mental wellbeing. 

Here are several success stories:

  • M&S Mental Health Training Programme: Addressing mental health awareness in the workplace, Marks & Spencer initiated a new mental health training programme. The programme ensures that the team members have sufficient knowledge and expertise to support young individuals who suffer from mental health issues. Through extensive training, M&S reveals its endeavour to create a supportive and friendly working environment that puts employees first. 
  • Dunelm’s Cafe Staff Mental Health Awareness Training: Dunelm has also implemented a mental health awareness training, which seems especially important due to the cafe staff having direct contact with customers, some of whom are potentially experiencing mental health disturbances.

Dunelm’s training allows cafe workers to become more educated about the issue and alerts them to signs and indicators, which may require them to provide supportive responses and further assistance. Therefore, even through a relatively simple and basic approach, Dunelm shows that it values and fosters a compassionate and understanding environment among its employees, clients and business partners.

  • Lululemon’s Mental Wellbeing Global Advisory Board: To push through its mental health schedule, this iconic athletic apparel retailer established a distinctive Mental Wellbeing Global Advisory Board. As a result, a team of industry specialists was formed to provide Lululemon with recommendations and advice from mental health industry experts to help the corporation build and execute reliable ways to ensure retail workers’ wellbeing.

Lululemon aims to construct an environment of awareness and power over all things associated with mental health to ensure its staff has the necessary resources to flourish using the mental health professionals’ expert perspectives.

  • Wellbeing in Retail Guide: Tesco has collaborated with six other retailers (John Lewis Partnership, Sainsbury’s, ASOS, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer and NEXT ) and the Samaritans to create the Wellbeing in Retail Guide. The guide provides advice and support to retail workers on how to look after their mental health problems, as well as a useful resource of information that directs them to additional help.

Best mental health software for retail HR

Just like investing in HR software for retail, companies must invest in mental health tools. Mental health software enables HR professionals to enhance retail workers’ wellbeing and gather data on physical and mental health concerns in the workplace. Frequently, HR software incorporates wellness and mental health features, enabling comprehensive support and data analysis for a healthier workforce.

Some of the best software available on the market includes:

  • UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group): Ultimate Kronos Group offers holistic workforce management software by Ultimate Kronos Group whose specially-designed module helps workers take care of their mental health. The solution helps detect patterns based on data analytics and workers’ feedback to identify problematic aspects and make valuable recommendations.
  • Dayforce: is a single solution for HR, payroll, and workforce management needs, covering mental health tracking and maintenance. It features real-time insights into both employee wellbeing and intuitive reporting.
  • Workday: Workday, a cloud-based HR software that includes monitoring employee mental health and wellbeing initiatives. HR professionals can use its user-friendly interface and personalisable dashboards to investigate key indicators and respond with specific responses.
  • Officevibe: is a comprehensive employee engagement system that includes a mechanism for supervising and improving the working environment. The software even offers launch pulse surveys, feedback loops, and data analytics to help HR teams determine and eliminate mental health issues.
  • Woliba. Woliba is a known provider of mental health and wellbeing solutions for the workplace. Their software includes instruments to monitor employees’ stress levels, easy access to resources, and assistance in building a peer support network. The platform is primarily oriented towards developing resilience and promoting positive mental health effects.
  • Headversity is a mobile mental fitness platform that helps individuals and employees develop strength and manage stress. Offers customised training sessions, mood monitoring tools, and mental health resources to help retail workers stay healthy.

Final thoughts

Taking retail workers’ mental health seriously is not just a matter of morality – it is a matter of good business. 

Ensuring retail employees’ wellbeing has become one of the main challenges for HR teams. HR in the retail sector is quickly realising that by building a people-focused culture and operations system, they can address the mental health of their workers. Through it, they can improve worker satisfaction, retention, and boost their own businesses. It is time for HR in retail to bridge the gap and take mental health seriously.

If you are looking for ways to empower your retail workforce and improve employee and customer engagement, don’t miss our upcoming HR CENTRAL 2024 retail conference on May 15th. Save your spot today.


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