Retail Workers Are Having a Tough Time

A significant portion of retail workers report worsening mental health and working conditions, according to a recent survey.
Retail workers

Four in 10 retail associates report their mental health has worsened over the past year, and, sadly, less than half believe their managers care––48% believe their manager actively seeks to improve their mental well-being, and 45% believe their mental health is not a concern to their manager. That reveals a big divide in how workers feel their managers view mental health.

This news is according to the 2022 Retail Associates Mental Health Report, a survey of 500 full-time retail associates that examines the well-being of retail workers and the factors that affect their mental wellness by retail operations platform Zipline. The report comes as the labor market has tightened in what economists have dubbed The Great Resignation, with workers quitting jobs and moving to new ones at a rapid clip. Retailers have reported more challenges filling open roles, and companies have increased incentives and wages to recruit talent.

Retail has been one of the hardest hit sectors by The Great Resignation. In the last year, 48.4% of full-time associates have considered quitting, according to the survey, with 31% citing insufficient pay as the top reason. Another 22% reported high anxiety, 19% said poor management and 10% cited difficult customers.

At the same time, retail workers are dealing with challenging work environments. For example, 64% of workers surveyed report an increase in verbally abusive customers since March 2020. Nearly half (48%) have experienced or witnessed a verbally abusive customer. Furthermore, 31% of full-time retail workers said they have additional income, through a second job outside the retail industry (44%), another retail job (11%) or investments, including cryptocurrency (24%). That reveals retail workers may be facing financial burdens and limited leisure time.

In addition, most retail workers (73%) report work-related stress around the holidays, when retailers make a huge portion of their annual sales. Roughly one-fifth of workers attributed the added stress to working long hours during the holiday period.

However, the report wasn’t all doom and gloom for retail workers, as 45% report their company provides some sort of mental health service already, such as counseling/therapy, gym memberships or access to meditation apps. Just under half (49%) of respondents said they feel their company recognizes their hard work, and 48% said they feel support from managers when a customer becomes verbally abusive.

“It’s clear from the report that many retail associates are struggling during this turbulent time, but the data also helps to illuminate a path forward for retailers,” Melissa Wong, CEO and co-founder of Zipline, said in a statement. “From streamlining in-store communication to showing greater support and appreciation for already-stressed workers, there’s room for growth, and it’s promising to see that some companies are already taking steps to improve employee satisfaction.”