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How can retail leaders support their team’s mental health?

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One of my favourite talks at #RTS2022 was retailTRUST’s Chris Brook-Carter’s presentation on mental health in retail. Did you know 90% of line managers say there has been an increase in mental health issues within their teams? 

I read another report by retailTRUST and was shocked to discover that retail workers are “suffering the lowest mental wellbeing of any employee group, with the pandemic continuing to worsen staff’s mental health.” I also discovered that 25% of retail workers would not feel confident approaching an upset colleague.  

More and more is being asked of retailers each year. A typical Store Manager juggles a 30% increase in workload since 2019, is expected to use 30 tools, reports, dashboards (etc…) every week and spends 6 hours a week reviewing this data. It’s overwhelming and it’s causing a great amount of stress – and I am not surprised! 

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, StorIQ are raising awareness and offering ways retail leaders can support their teams.

Tackle stigma 

Some of the first steps retailers can take is communicating the importance of looking after your mental health. This is key reducing stigma across the business. 

Mental health is all too often still seen as a taboo topic in retail environments and there is a large reluctance to talk about it out of fear of being discriminated against. Working Mindset European clinical psychologist Dr Rebecca Holt says: “Retailers first need to reflect on their organisational culture around mental health. The number one priority has to be tackling the stigma and creating a culture of openness where people feel safe and comfortable to talk about their mental health.” 

It is essential that retail leaders communicate regularly with their teams to reinforce the importance of looking after staff wellbeing. Leading by example is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to shift workplace culture.  

Lead by example 

Self-preservation is something I long misunderstood – along with many others I imagine. However, it is not selfish to look after yourself first. It is fundamental to assess your own wellbeing needs so you can help others to the best of your ability.  

“Please put on your own life jacket first before stopping to help others” 

It’s challenging to start doing this – especially when you know people need your help. But there is a necessary reason we are told to put on our own life jackets; you can’t help unless you take care of yourself first.  

Not only does this allow you to help others more effectively, but it also enables you to set a great example to your teams: it’s okay to take a break to look after yourself. 

Implement a transparent mental health plan 

66% of line managers believe they are not equipped to deal with the mental health issues they see in their staff and 28% of retail workers say they are not offered enough support from their employers.  

RetailTRUST research found that companies with a strategic and transparent initiative were better able to signpost and allocate resources for a more holistic approach to tackling mental health issues. These approaches should also be considerate of different levels of support required by people in different areas of the business.  

Adopting a transparent mental health plan is key in giving businesses the visibility to measure their impact on staff wellbeing. Dr Rebecca Holt notes that a mental health plan “should include how the retailer plans to address the work-related causes of mental health problems, how work/life balance will be supported, and offer clear guidance and training for managers as well as establishing what support will be offered to those experiencing poor mental health.” 

Retail leaders must train their staff and provide them with the necessary tools. It is essential they can: 1. spot what’s wrong and 2. signpost accurately and promptly. Albeit daunting, there are lots of programs and resources available to train your staff with. Why not start with Mind Training or St John Ambulance

Looking for ways to see how StorIQ can assist in your retail operations? Click here to see what our platform could do to improve your retail employee experience. Or click here to download StorIQ’s RETAIL THRIVES AGAIN eBook.

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