Does tech hold the answer to retail staff wellbeing?


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Does tech hold the answer to retail staff wellbeing?.

Retail is facing one of the most challenging periods in modern history and following a year of uncertainty, isolation and furlough, staff will be feeling this pressure in a range of ways. Taking care of both the physical and mental health of teams will be central to a retail bounceback – especially amidst continued social contact restrictions.

But how can retail employers take care of the mental health of their workforces? Jonathan Elvidge, co-founder of health tech brand Moodbeam and former founder of The Gadget Shop, discusses how a simple piece of tech can hold the key.

It is often said that happiness is productivity by another name, but we cannot underestimate the power of staff happiness particularly in retail and must look beyond metrics and money. When employees and teams are happy at work, they are motivated, and this creates a buzz that is really felt by everyone in the store. A happy team with good morale will provide better customer service – thereby creating more brand-loyal customers who will come back again and again due to their in-store experience.

Central to looking after employee mental health, morale, and happiness is understanding how staff are feeling day-to-day. An employer wants to know that its staff are okay and provide a simple mechanism by which they can feedback – especially if they are suffering in any way. Equally, staff want to feel like they have a voice within their business – and most importantly that they are being listened to. This is where health tech can really benefit a business – and any simple-to-use device that allows daily sentiment tracking has the potential to be a truly powerful and transformative tool.

The simple lanyard design of the Moodbeam One lends itself to busy retail environments as it doesn’t require anything except the simple touch of a button – and vibration reminders can be set to prompt people to quickly log their mood at chosen points throughout the day. Users are able to report events during the working day that make them feel happy or unhappy with this data being tracked within a companion app that presents visual trends. No additional equipment is required, and the feedback can be given instantaneously from any location.

It is important to remember that retailers often have a longer chain of management to pass feedback through and those at the top – such as area managers – will have a larger remit of responsibility, meaning that they may only visit each store once a month. This longer chain of command means more gaps for feedback to fall through and more opportunity for miscommunication. However, Moodbeam’s dashboard feeds everyone’s thoughts back in the same manner and can help upper management identify how and where to prioritise their time. The data also can be beneficial to HR or people and culture leads, as well as managers in support of general wellbeing.

The dashboard can prove to be a very valuable tool for a business with multiple stores or sites thanks to its ability to compare ‘circles’. These groups can be selected based on the employers’ requirements – such as different stores, regions, or even different departments within larger stores – and allows comparisons to be made. If the data shows that a particular circle is not as happy as other areas of the business, this can be investigated to find a solution.

For example, an area manager could re-prioritise the frequency of visits to a particular store to help identify issues and solutions where staff morale may be low. Should a particular group’s morale suddenly dip, this is also flagged up much quicker and allows for a solution to be found before anything can escalate – after all, when staff are unhappy and cannot see change happening, they are much more likely to exit a business.

Equally, the data collected by Moodbeam’s dashboards can act as a catalyst for positive change. If there is a particular team or location that is tracking a much more positive happiness pattern, we can go in and identify why this is and ideally replicate this across other areas.

It’s more important than ever that we find new ways of giving staff members a voice, and a method of providing real time feedback on things in a manner that doesn’t rely on being in the same room – this is an area that health technology can provide tools of real value to employers. We are all about using technology for good, putting the power into people’s hands to help them show what happiness – work-related or not – looks like to them.

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