ILC Film emphasises lifelong support for retail employees
The International Longevity Centre (ILC), the UK’s leading authority on demographic change, has launched an uplifting short film championing the importance of retail employers looking after employees throughout their lives and adapting to the opportunities of an ageing society.
Supporting retail employees throughout their lives makes business sense
The film forms part of the ILC Retail Impact Project to help retailers recognise that as the population ages, supporting employees throughout and beyond their working lives reduces turnover costs, ensures customers receive great service – and makes business sense.
It features interviews with two long-serving former retail sector workers as they share how they have felt valued and cared for both during their working lives and as residents of Marshall Estate in Mill Hill, London, one of five supported living estates provided by retail industry charity, the Retail Trust.
Terry, who worked for John Lewis for 24 years, and Phyllis, who worked for Tesco for 38 years, are among hundreds of retired retail workers living in the Retail Trust’s supported living estates across the UK.
Older people with more than five years’ service in the retail industry, or who are in the care of someone working for or retired from the sector, can qualify for a home in one of the estates in London, Derby, Glasgow, Liverpool, or Salford.
Terry McGhee, former John Lewis employee, said: “John Lewis look after their staff very well, whether you work for them or whether you’re retired from them. I’ve been retired now for nearly 30 years and they’re still looking after us.”
Ailsa Forbes, Retail Impact Fellow, International Longevity Centre said: “The warmth with which Terry and Phyllis talk in the film about their working lives, and how they are now looked after in supported living accommodation provided by the Retail Trust, contrasts sharply with how still too many retail workers say they feel about their work environments and the support they receive from their employers.
“There are costly outcomes if retailers fail to support their workforces. Replacing a member of staff earning £25,000 per annum costs £30,614 on average – including recruitment, training and loss of productivity. Investing in your existing workforce makes business sense. And it’s the right thing to do.
“The film illustrates how it is possible for employees to feel well supported and cared for by an employer over many years. The pride and positivity with which Terry and Phyllis talk about their former employers should inspire all retailers, regardless of their size, to make sure their staff feel supported and positive about their jobs.
“Retailers must never forget that their staff are their superpower. There is no doubt that team members who feel listened to and supported will feel greater loyalty to their employer and are likely to want to remain working for them for longer. This results in healthier workforces and greater profitability for businesses.
“ILC’s healthy retail guides provide advice on how to be more supportive of employees across their working lives and beyond.”
Lawrence Coen, managing director of property and residential services at the Retail Trust, said: “The retail industry has transformed in many ways since Terry and Phyllis began their careers, but the best retail employers continue to understand that supporting their people’s wellbeing remains crucial for the success of their business.
“Terry and Phyllis, and so many other residents of our supported living estates, are testament to the importance of retailers investing in their people to ensure decades of staff loyalty. We’re proud to help continue this work by providing hundreds of retired retail workers with the support they need in older age.”
There is very high turnover of staff in the retail sector, with figures from the British Retail Consortium indicating that the average annual staff turnover rate is now over 50%. Many employees are not remaining in post for even a year. Reasons for leaving jobs include poor atmosphere and lack of care for wellbeing. Two in five retail workers have told the Retail Trust that they experience regular verbal or physical abuse and nearly half say they feel unsafe at work.
The British Retail Consortium’s HR Benchmark Q1 2023 report states that the sector’s average staff turnover rate is now 50.8%.
The Cost of Brain Drain: Understanding the Financial Impact of Staff Turnover, February 2014, Oxford Economics
The Health of Retail Report 2021, The Retail Trust
Employee Trends 2022, Edenred