This article is provided by BRC Associate Member, Roubler.


Highly competitive, ever-evolving and almost entirely dependent on consumer demand, the retail industry in the UK can be unpredictable even during times of relative stability. Employees often bear the brunt of the lack of certainty, particularly when things are in a state of flux.

Add to this the extra layer of uncertainty caused by the fact that some retail workers have indirectly been deemed “non-essential”, and it’s little wonder that 51% of employees in the UK are considering a career change.

Resulting staff shortages emphasise the need for retailers to create the stability their people need in order to thrive – and to stick with the industry in the short- to medium-term. In such a customer-centric industry, where your people are your best asset, retaining your best talent has a direct correlation with success.

At a time when the impact of unpredictability has never been more evident, it’s time for retailers to focus on retaining staff by creating a work environment where employees feel as certain as possible about their industry of choice.

Clear communication, a physically safe environment, and a roadmap for the future of your business will all contribute towards a psychologically safe workplace where employees can see a clearer future.

Put all your cards on the table

Communicating openly and honesty with your employees is more important than ever during times of transition and change. When schedules, working patterns and headcount can change at a moment’s notice, your people look to you for guidance, and will appreciate an open and honest approach – even when you don’t have all the answers.

Whether it’s providing them with regular updates as situations change, giving them quick access to the appropriate policies and procedures, or seeking their input via surveys or one-on-one consultation, clear two-way communication with staff will boost engagement and morale.

Effective internal communication processes often come down to having the right technology in place. Provide your team with access to their rota, essential documents and training materials in one central location, so they don’t have to go looking – ideally via a mobile app. This will not only reduce the administrative burden, but will ensure they don’t miss out on vital updates.

Show, don’t tell

Not so long ago, face-to-face interactions with co-workers and customers were simply the norm. Today, such a simple concept is fraught – and is a potential cause of anxiety among employees.

Your team wants to believe you’re investing in their health and safety, and they understand all too well that their wellbeing depends on it. So don’t just tell your staff you have it covered – demonstrate exactly how you are continuing to maintain hygienic practices the workplace – and how they can contribute.

Equip your employees with the knowledge, tools and training they need to feel safe, and to help them go the extra mile for themselves and for your customers. Try implementing digital solutions such as contactless clock-in, health questionnaires, and contact tracing reports to keep everyone protected. These precautions will help you maintain happy and healthy workforce, and increase retention.

Encourage mind over matter

When it comes to health and safety, taking care of your workforce from the inside out can be truly beneficial. Research shows that staff satisfaction leads to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and ultimately a more profitable business – which is why focussing on mental as well as physical wellbeing is so important.

This year, 84% of retail workers say they have suffered from a deterioration of their mental health. So many have been furloughed or had hours reduced, exacerbating their concerns around future job prospects and financial security. Ultimately, the current lack of certainty is taking its toll in an emotional sense.

This is undoubtedly a complex problem – but it is one employers can help address by putting initiatives in place with emotional wellbeing at their heart. Ensure your team has access to an employee assistance program, let them know that HR are there to lean on, and try implementing mindfulness in the workplace to help maintain a sense of calm day-to-day.

Prepare for the road ahead

It’s been very much on the horizon for several years now, but the concept of digital transformation is now accelerating towards us at a lightning-fast pace. Retailers are coming to understand the ways that workforce management technology will help them future-proof their business – not the least by creating efficiencies and increasing employee engagement.

After all, today’s retail staff are used to a constant digital presence – and rely on digital tools to help them feel connected with their friends, family and colleagues. They expect their employers to provide the same easy access to information they experience in their personal lives via the likes of Google and social media.

Empowering them to manage their shifts from their mobile phone, access policies and payslips, and complete training on the go are all part and parcel of meeting the demands of today’s employees – and ensuring your business is well equipped to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Roubler’s all-in-one workforce management software helps retailers including Estee Lauder, WHSmith and MAC keep staff healthy and engaged, helping retain employees and leading to happier more productive workforces. To find out more visit