More and more often these days, you hear stories of how people can suddenly lose it. How a situation suddenly and unexpectedly escalates from disgruntled to angry, from complaint to arguing, and from threats to physical violence. Respect for shop workers just doesn’t seem to be there.
Even from those you would least expect it from, our “I want it and I want it now culture” is causing flash points for potential incidents. I can only imagine what the new law of 5p for a plastic carrier bag, has done to increase the potential of this at the checkout.
(Image from Usdaw’s 2014 ‘Respect for Shopworkers’ week)
“Shocking research reveals that every minute of the working day another shop worker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked.”USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers website October 2015.
This year’s “Respect for shop workers week” has a theme of “Keep Your Cool”, to encourage the public to remember that despite the stresses of the Christmas shopping period, there is never an excuse for abuse or violence to members of staff.
USDAW conducted a survey in January 2015 on the violence and threats faced by shop workers. 5,021 of its shop workers participated and were asked about their experiences last year. The results were:
- 3.1% assaulted
- 33% threatened
- 56.3% verbally abused
So if you apply those percentages to the total number of those in a customer facing role, throughout the UK, that is an awful lot of people who are exposed to a real threat.
Other surveys online have stated, that the costs to businesses and individuals in these sectors is vast. For those staff living in fear of these type of incidents, which are especially prevalent within the retail and licensed businesses. Owners, managers and staff can have a fear of being confronted, which could be affecting their ability to work effectively, as well as causing stress and anxiety at work.
Although we should always respect and sympathise with anyone who is suffering from the effects of fear, or have been unfortunate enough to have suffered from such attacks, the cost to businesses isn’t always just emotional or physical strain on individuals. For businesses, the cost for loss of working hours, disruption and anything associated along with the healthcare & judiciary systems, all add up and affect us all.
There are guidelines and information readily available for business owners to ensure they are compliant with their duty of care to minimise the potential, provide support and manage incidents effectively.
Such as this guide from the British Retail Consortium on the best practise guidelines for tackling violence against staff, which explains all the compliance expected from employers.
Or this advice from HSE, who offer this guide on Violence at work, with tips on how to stay compliant, as well as effectively manage the threat of violence. They suggest speaking to your employees to find the true scale of the problem, by speaking to staff and keeping reports. Deciding what action to take, such as more training or perhaps a safer environment, by installing safety systems. Knowing yourself, and making your staff aware, on how you will take action following an incident, and finally, checking back to see if the measures you put into place are enough.
With Veriserv, we understand the dangers, and have clients in the licensed sector. So we know first-hand the potential for, and the steps required to protect those in vulnerable situations, and to help them feel safe in the workplace while deterring would be incidents.
Our VeriSafe solution is designed specifically for these type of environments and situations, where assistance and support is required at the first sign of a potential threat. With a police response and real time interaction, it is providing a duty of care, as well as helping staff feel safer at work.
You can find out more about the VeriSafe workforce solution on our page or in the graphic below:
We strive to keep people safe in their workplace, and to keep businesses compliant. So if you are responsible for, or believe that your workplace would benefit from an assessment, of how Veriserv are able to help, then please get in touch or mention the VeriSafe solution to your manager/director. You could even share this post, to get more awareness for “Respect for shop workers week” and how you can keep yourself, your colleagues and your whole team VeriSafe over this seasonal period.
For those of you who aren’t involved in working in a customer facing role, or perhaps those of you who forget what it is like to have been in that position, let’s be considerate of all those who are faced with uncomfortable situations. Those who have a duty, and have to abide by the laws within the sectors they work in, such as asking your age to sell certain products. Who themselves, are only human, with a job to do and a boss to answer to. Shop workers should always feel respected, and should always be able to feel VeriSafe.