The Retailer Winter edition_2020

winter 2020

//  Seismic shift in retail workforce

//  Digital innovations and disruptions

//  New payment trends and challenges


18.00 – 20.30, 10 March

Leading industry figures discuss future roles and skills; and explore the latest ideas, strategies and tools driving successful workforce transformation.

Panellists include:






Join us after work for an evening of interactive panel discussions followed by complimentary networking drinks.


Fundamental restructuring of our industry is triggering a seismic shift in our retail workforce Helen Dickinson OBE Chief Executive British Retail Consortium

The UK has one of the most vibrant and dynamic retail industries in the world. One that contributes £97.1 billion to the UK economy, employs three million people and has higher productivity growth than almost any other industry. Yet, there is a dramatic transformation happening. New technologies are changing customer behaviours and expectations; with companies investing millions in digital services and technological innovations to keep pace. Increasingly sophisticated and personalised online shopper experiences, smart mirrors in stores, shops without checkouts and personal shopper apps are just some of the developments unthinkable a few years ago but now a reality for the industry and consumers. This fundamental restructuring of our industry is triggering a seismic shift in our retail workforce. Our latest data shows 16th consecutive quarters of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce. The fewer roles that remain, or are being created, require a whole new set of skills and capabilities. It means retailers need to understand what skills they have and what additional roles and skills they need. It means they need to look in new and different places to find the right people; and develop different strategies to effectively upskill their staff. It also means finding innovative ways to keep their best talent in an increasingly competitive market place. At the BRC we’re committed to supporting our members and wider retail industry build a workforce fit for the future. Our BRC Learning Live event on 10 March is a great example of how we’re helping retail leaders find the right solutions. I look forward to seeing many of you – and your teams – there on the night.

this issue


Fundamental restructuring of our industry is triggeringa seismic shift in our retail // Helen Dickinson OBE, bRC



Spotlight on: Tamara Hill // bRC


It’s time to transform vocational training // Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP


The new Government must Level up the Levy to create a workforce fit for the future // Chantelle De Villiers, brc








Leading from the front or leading from behind? // oss Tackling mental health problems in the retail workforce // MIKE JACOBS, aon // MANIE VILJON, aon Transforming wellbeing for a retail of the future // NEIL DUFFY, retailTRUST Building financial wellness through earned wage access // NEIL PICKERING, kronos




UK/EU trade


We need a mutually beneficial deal for UK and EU retailer and consumers // William Bain, brc



Market insights and trends


Holiday Post-Mortem: Lessons Learned from Seasonal Retail Challenges // PAUL REDSULL, PRGX Global Inc Howcan retailers thrive in a changing landscape? A reviewof 2019 andour expectations for 2020 // LISA HOOKER, P w C Tomorrow’s retail trends:Lessons from the global marketplace // SUKHJEEVEN NAT, Santander




A Fresh Look at Food Hygiene // FRANK WOODS, NFU Mutual


Cartel claims // NICK WOOD, grant thornton uk llp

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this issue

Climate and sustainability


Veganism in Fashion: purchasing with confidence // Leah Riley Brown, brc ECO-FRIENDLY SUPPLY CHAINS KEY TO BRITISH SHOPPERS // KAREN JOHNSON, Barclays Corporate Banking



Packaging waste consultation unwrapped // ADRIAN HAWKES, Valpak Ltd



finace and payments


Crisis averted in e-commerce – but not yet in the clear // andrew cregan, BRC Buy Now, Pay Later – New Compliance Rules Coming into Force // CARLTON DANIEL, PAUL ANDERSON Squire Patton Boggs



A concerning creep towards credit // MARTIN JÄGERSTAD, TRUSTLY




Combatting click and collect chargebacks in an omnichannel world // MONICA EATON-CARDONE, Chargebacks911 Transaction Declined: Maximising Online Payments Approvals // ROBBIE MACDIARMID, cmspi


retail disruption and innovation


Five big retail innovations and disruptions // RALPH ROBINSON, BJSS Ltd




Fortune favours the optimistic, brave and creative // LINDA ELLETT, kpmg


How staff can drive customer experience in physical stores during 2020 // CHRIS FIELD, Fieldworks Marketing Dipping into retail’s future with Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha // JAMES PEPPER, Vista Retail Support





Advertising is evolving, and it’sraising new challenges for retailers // EDWINA BONES, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP Advising Retail: Are Your Professional Consultants Future Ready? // GRAEME BRADSHAW, Burness Paull LLP Understanding in-store consumer loyalty and its value to your business // DEAN COOKSON, purple



75 Directory of associate members

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Spotlight on:

Tamara Hill Policy Adviser – Employment & Skills british Retail Consortium

Tell us a bit about your role at BRC I lead our policy work on employment and skills. This involves influencing government officials and Ministers and helping members understand and interpret the regulatory framework and any incoming changes to legislation. Recently I’ve been working on the Immigration Bill, access to labour and workforce issues, the wider labour market under retail transformation and skills and training policy such as apprenticeship levy reform and T’Levels. Before I came to the BRC I worked at the National Farmers’ Union – I was in the same role so I was already familiar with the policy areas. Since joining my main focus has been to understand the employment and skills policy framework from a retailers perspective. I have also worked at Natural England and, in my earlier career was a Business Analyst at Nationwide Building Society. My policy background, knowledge of how government works and previous experience in a trade association ensures I understand how to work up and deliver on the lobbying asks our members need. We’re in a really exciting phase at the moment and ready to take our Better Jobs initiative to the next level. In 2018, the BRC committed to work with the industry to deliver a strategy for Better Jobs. We’re now looking to maximise the benefit of the industry’s experience and aligned expert insight by sharing good practice, helping retailers to transform what they do and how they do it. A key element of our forward focus will be diversity and inclusion. Workplace diversity is really about creating a respectful, inclusive work environment in which every employee has the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the businesses vision and goals. To celebrate retail and create jobs that are more productive, higher paid, fit for the future and more rewarding for the retail workforce. We’re kicking off a programme of activity with our BRC Learning Live panel discussion on 10 March focusing on future skills, attracting and retaining the best talent and developing a vitally important talent pipeline. With the added expectation of enhanced workers’ rights, and the need to make necessary adaptations to prepare for a post-Brexit labour market, we’ll be following up with a series of roundtables and workshops, with associated guidance notes as key takeaways for our members. What was your background before joining? What are your priorities for the next 6 months? What should members look out for this year?

To get involved

join the HR Community

8 | winter 2020 | the retailer


It’s time to transform vocational training NEWS FROM THE bRC

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP Chair of the Education Select Committee

I am delighted that the theme for National Apprenticeship Week this year is ‘Look Beyond’. Indeed, in the words of my current parliamentary apprentice Dan Swords, “we must stop the apprenticeships snobbery.” Moreover, we must encourage people to look beyond the outdated idea that retail is a first job rather than a career. In my first speech in the House of Commons I argued that we needed to change the way we view apprenticeships so that they are held in the same regard as going to university. I strongly believe that we must transform the nature of vocational training and apprenticeships and show that a career in retail can offer well paid, high value work if we are to equip young people with the skills they need to climb the ladder of opportunity. As we look beyond traditional routes of education and training, it is a fitting week to point out that retail is also in the midst of a transformation and our high streets need to be re-imagined beyond retail. There are thousands of people doing jobs that didn’t exist in the industry ten years ago and retailers are changing how they run their stores to include more experience- based offerings. Through the rise of technology and Artificial Intelligence, we are seeing many more opportunities for people with technical skills to build their careers in retail. So, as the industry continues through a period of significant change, it is fantastic to see retailers using apprenticeships as an important pathway to futureproof their business. There are plenty of dynamic and diverse apprenticeship programmes on offer in retail which include digital marketing, engineering, finance and software development. I encourage all young people to really look at the many options the industry has to offer. Whilst an apprenticeship in retail provides a way to climb the ladder of opportunity, the changing nature of the industry and the evolution of jobs is also playing a key role in addressing the skills gap facing our nation. Retail is very much part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, from touch screens in aisles to customer service bots and simulation modeling across the supply chain. It is an exciting time to be part of the industry as retail creates more opportunities for people from all communities, promoting social mobility across all parts of the country.

As the industry continues to play this important role in society, it is equally important to recognise that challenges remain. Retailers need to see reform from Government in the upcoming Budget if the apprenticeship scheme is to meet its full potential - creating a workforce fit for the future. Recent figures indicate apprenticeship-starts are falling and retailers have identified the inflexibility in funding rules as a key barrier to take-up of the scheme. Currently, there are overly restrictive limitations on what Apprenticeship Levy funds can be spent on, meaning retailers are unable to fully engage with the policy and make the most of apprenticeships. Support to professionalise the industry and promote careers in retail must be part of our educational standards not least as retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK. As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2020, I am delighted to be sponsoring an event in Parliament on behalf of the British Retail Consortium (BRC). I will be welcoming apprentices currently working for retailers across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Pret a Manger, John Lewis, Joules, KFC, The Company Shop and McDonald’s. This is a fantastic opportunity for apprentices to meet with politicians to demonstrate the value of a career in retail. Government, retailers, and training providers, all have a part to play in building the success of apprenticeships and I am determined to do just that. During National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we should all take some time to think about how we contribute to making that happen. Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP is Chair of the Education Select Committee and was former Minister of State for Higher Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Careers in the Department of Education 2016 – 2017.

This first article was first published in the Retail Gazette on Monday 3 February.

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The new Government must Level up the Levy to create a workforce fit for the future

‘‘With all the main parties in Westminster committed to lifelong learning, the Government must now reform the Apprenticeship Levy and support the retail industry in its key role in creating to a more productive workforce fit for the future’’.

Chantelle De Villiers External Affairs Adviser british Retail Consortium

The BRC recently welcomed members from across our HR Community to discuss the future of apprenticeships in retail and what the Government must do to support the industry as we continue through a period of significant transformation. It was no surprise that much of the focus was on the future of the Apprenticeship Levy. This was in part due to the obvious reality that financially, the system as it currently operates is unsustainable, but more importantly for our members, the retail industry is not getting its fair bite of the cherry. The retail industry’s levy contribution is significant; we estimate it to be £160m per year, yet broadly our members tell us they can’t even access half of what they pay in. Barriers to access remain, as apprenticeship standards - which define programme content - are not being approved quickly enough by the Institute for Apprenticeships and the process to access funding has become more complex and time consuming than many expected. Now that the general election is over and a new Government is in place, it is vital that policy makers recognise industry’s key role in creating jobs for the future that are higher skilled and drive productivity growth. Apprenticeships are the way to achieve this and we want to work with Government to deliver reforms that ensure the system is fit for purpose. Given the financial trajectory of the scheme and the Budget due to be announced next month, our members are clear that there is no room for an increase in Levy funds. Any gaps in the system must be plugged by Government. It is fundamentally important but also fair that any changes to the system ensure that the status quo is maintained and there is availability of deliverable apprenticeships at all levels and age entry points so retailers can continue to access existing funds for a wider net of skill sets. Though maintaining what currently exists is a priority for members, we should not be complacent when it comes to overhauling the system and freeing up levy funds for other forms of training. With the rising cumulative burden that the retail industry is experiencing through business rates, national living wage increases and costs on crime prevention, there is a clear case for the Treasury to support the largest private sector employer and allow levy funds to be accessed for any form of accredited training to suit workforce needs. With all the main parties in Westminster committed to lifelong learning, the Government must now reform the Apprenticeship Levy and support the retail industry in its key role in creating to a more productive workforce fit for the future.


10 | winter 2020 | the retailer


National Apprenticeship Week Parliamentary Event / Launch member research on apprenticeship data


Levy reform BRC round table





APPG on Apprentice- ship session on 4IR & Digital Skills



World Youth Skills Day


Find out more, go to the HR Hub

the retailer | winter 2020 | 11



Andy Turner, Warehouse Team Leader, says ‘I have gained a better understanding of tools and techniques to help those around me, such as improving my management style to get the most out of my team, which in turn provides continuous improvement for Joules. Joules will now have more knowledgeable team leaders and managers which will improve the business. It’s been good to work with people from across the business and to support each other by sharing ideas’. The apprentices will next be working on Unit 5 next which is Information-Based Decision Making, covering topics such as using data and information effectively, knowledge management, evidence-based decision making, decision-making tools and techniques, communicating decision and communicating to groups. James Cockbill, Learning and Development Manager at Joules says ‘We are already seeing a return of investment from our apprenticeship group, with all of them having put their learning into practice already. Our apprenticeship group are gaining not just individual career benefit from this experience, but they are also seeing their teams benefit from this investment, with our learners leadership development transforming the way they guide their teams to perform at an even higher level. We could not have gone through this development journey as a brand without the support of the BRC, and all our learners are complimentary about the BRCs involvement in supporting the programme.’

In July 2019, we were delighted to announce our collaboration with the BRC to support the development of future retail leaders through the BRC Retail Leadership and Management Apprenticeship. At Joules we are passionate about creating development opportunities, giving colleagues continued chances to learn new skills and gain confidence in their roles. The areas they’ve covered so far during their programme include Managing Team and Individual Performance, Personal Development as a Manager and Leader, Organisational Financial Management and Project Development. The apprenticeship is going really well, with the apprentices loving the combined dual learning method of development days and individual work, fitting well around their day-to-day jobs: Charles Marriott, Senior Finance Manager, says ‘I decided to do an apprenticeship to develop my skills and to learn some new things. I’m hoping to be a better leader, to relay that to my team, build my confidence and learn some useful tools as I progress. I’ve found the apprenticeship really beneficial in terms of reflecting on certain situations that have happened in the past and looking at how I’ve reacted to those and why. I am now a better manager for Joules, I am more forward-thinking, empowering my team, and I have been developing each of them too’. Crissy Wisdom-Chew, Transport Manager, says ‘I like the way the course is broken down into modules and I get to gain from other people’s experience and expertise. The apprenticeship has impacted my current role because I have learnt to be more structured and manage my time more efficiently, and my coaching skills are much better now as I am able mentor others. I have felt really well valued by Joules as my employer as they have wanted to invest in me, and my external trainer has been really supportive too’.

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PLACING OUR PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE At Company Shop Group, we are always looking for alternative ways to provide development opportunities to our colleagues - creating an environment in which people can grow, develop and prosper.

We always want the professional opportunities we provide to colleagues to be as far-reaching as possible, so our current apprenticeship schemes cover a whole range of areas including the Chartered Management Level 5 Diploma for managers; the Chartered Management Level 3 diploma for our team leaders and supervisors; Business Administration at Level 4; Warehousing and Storage at Level 3 and an ICT programme. In late spring, we are also planning to partner with the BRC to offer the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship in Retail, which will be available through Leeds Beckett University. As a rapidly growing business which employs over 800 colleagues throughout England and now Scotland, we are also exploring how the apprenticeship framework can be extended to colleagues on the ground across our retail stores. We always want to provide all colleagues with development opportunities and so it is important to us that there are opportunities for career progression across all corners of the business, and that we’re getting business support and insight from colleagues across all levels. We want all our colleagues to follow one of our key values – aim for extraordinary – when it comes to their own careers and their professional development. At Company Shop Group, we are all committed to be being a good business, doing good things. Ensuring we engage and develop our colleagues is ultimately essential for continuing to drive forward the success of our business. If last year’s apprenticeships are anything to go by, 2020 is set to be another hugely successful year.

As we enter 2020, we are proudly placing apprenticeships at the heart of our “People Strategy”. Development opportunities such as apprenticeships not only help us to continue to be an employer of choice nationally, but they also allow us to support our colleagues so they can develop the essential skills needed to fulfil their potential. We really recognise and welcome the benefits that apprenticeships bring to our business. From building the foundation of a talent pipeline to providing colleagues with rewarding and fulfilling career paths, apprenticeships help to create a skilled, productive and experienced workforce. They also empower our colleagues to be the potential of our business, which in turn positively impacts our culture and drives our organisation forward. In July 2019, two of our colleagues started the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Management Apprenticeship, in collaboration with lifestyle retailer Joules. The scheme has proved a great success so far and has encouraged us to develop our own internal leadership and management programme using the apprenticeship framework. As part of this new Company Shop programme, we are bringing together managers and leaders from across different areas of our business. The schemes provide opportunities for colleagues to share learnings, experiences and best practice, ultimately encouraging peer to peer coaching and promoting a collaborative working ethos. To achieve this, we’ve aligned our work-based projects, such as embedding our values which form part of an apprenticeship programme, with the colleague engagement activities we are delivering during 2020. This provides a great opportunity for our supervisors and managers to own and lead on these projects, as they directly impact themselves and their teams. We find this helps colleagues to embrace change and new ways of working, and encourages them to live our business values in their everyday work. To kick-start 2020, over 30 new apprenticeships are being launched across Company Shop Group and we are looking to further increase the number and widen the scope of the opportunities available in the next 12 months. Discussing the apprenticeship opportunities, Steph McGinty, Company Shop’s Director of People, Communities and Retail explained how “it is a really exciting time for everyone across the business, as these apprenticeships are providing additional opportunities for colleagues to develop their skillsets, supporting both their personal growth and the positive journey of our business”. “It’s great to know the BRC is committed to working and engaging with the Government to improve the apprenticeship system and also to helping retailers maximise the value from the apprenticeship levy”.


Last November, Rethink Retail, powered by the BRC, took part at WorldSkills UK LIVE at the NEC, Birmingham. This was the first time that the retail industry had been represented at the event and we were excited to inspire the young visitors about a career in retail. Find out more here. National Apprenticeship Week 2020 Last week we were delighted to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week. In addition to holding a Parliamentary drop-in event sponsored by Robert Halfon MP to promote apprenticeships in retail, we also shared successful apprenticeship stories through blogs from Sainsbury’s, Pret, Joules and Company Shop Group. We also heard how our Level 5 apprentices, from Joules and The Company Shop, are progressing, take a look at our BRC Learning Apprenticeship video here.

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Leading from the front or leading from behind? NEWS FROM THE bRC When a customer visits a branch of a multi-national chain they’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect. But despite the same branding, the same in-store layout, the same uniforms and the same product choices, it is possible to have two completely opposing experiences. What’s the difference? How the retail leader leads the environment. To explain the point further let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I visited New York City, and like millions of other tourists I took the elevator up to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. When the doors opened, I was ‘greeted’ by three members of staff who looked bored and totally disengaged. Their arms were folded and despite the incredible views they looked as though they wanted to be anywhere else. For me this was a once in a lifetime event, but my experience was influenced by how I was greeted upon exiting the lift. Later in the trip I visited the Rockefeller Centre and made the journey up to the observation deck. As the doors opened, I was once again greeted by members of staff, but my experience couldn’t have been more different. The team of greeters were smiling, talkative and high fiving guests. The energy was so positive and the experience was fantastic. In both scenarios the jobs were essentially the same, to greet visitors as they exited the elevator. However, it was clear that at the Rockefeller Centre the team were inspired, they were motivated, and they were empowered to do their job extremely well. The difference? How the leader created the environment for their team. At OSS Foundation I will be running coaching workshops to help delegates understand how they unlock the best version of themselves. By being their best-selves they are able to create the best environment for the team. A good question to ask yourself as retailers - is the environment a product of you or are you a product of the environment? To answer that every leader must decide whether they are leading from the front or whether they are leading from behind. Leading from the front Leading from the front simply means leading by example and asking the team to follow. It is the notion of showing your team what can be done and setting the tone of the workplace by your actions. This is quite a traditional method of leading, however the notion of ‘command and control’ doesn’t have the impact it once used to.

Leading from behind The modern workforce looks for purpose and meaning in what they do. They are empowered by ownership and responsibility within their role. When a leader leads from behind the team are elevated to the front. Leading from behind relies on an understanding that the importance of a colleague is not just based on their salary or position. It is the impact that they can have on the customer. In the earlier example to me (the customer) the most important people who had the greatest impact on my experience were the greeters. To me, the young, low-paid staff had the greatest power to impact my visit to these iconic places. A leader who leads from behind would empower these greeters to create their own environment. To take ownership of their role and the space within which they work. In order to achieve this the leader should invest time in getting to know the team on both an individual and collective level. Being present, known as a listener and getting involved only when required will help you understand what the team are good at and where they want to grow. This will help you tailor the roles to fit their skills and help them to develop wherever possible. Nelson Mandela famously said: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” Nick Booth is founder of SEVENTHWAVE®, a consultancy which coaches and supports newly appointed leaders through the transition from individual talent to becoming an effective and engaged leaders. Nick leads a series of interactive coaching workshops at OSS Foundation. He will explain to delegates how great retail leaders understand when and how to take a coaching approach with individuals and the team. They will then practice the key techniques to develop a coaching style they can then use to engage and develop their team. For more information about OSS Foundation please visit or to find out how the programme can support your Graduate Managers in Retail Operations & Head Office Functions, Department Managers please contact Terry Lees on How can we unlock the best version of you, unlock the potential of individuals.

14 | winter 2020 | the retailer

the retailer | winter 2020 | 15


Tackling mental health problems in the retail workforce



WHY SHARPENING THE FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH WILL PAY DIVIDENDS FOR RETAILERS The importance of good mental health is becoming a more important topic in organisations in the UK. Factors such as money and debt, divorce and separation, bullying, health issues and loneliness, can all have an adverse impact on an individual’s mental health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are over 600 million people globally suffering from mental health issues such as depression and/or anxiety. In the workforce, the knock -on effects of mental health problems are becoming more pronounced; the WHO estimates that depression will be the world’s most common illness by 2030, with over 12 billion working days lost annually. For retailers, where employees are on the ‘front line’, often facing physical and verbal abuse from customers – a recent Co-op report ‘Safer colleagues safer communities’ found that violence in the retail sector has reached ‘unprecedented levels’ – tackling mental health in the retail workforce faces a number of particular challenges. These range from the multi-locational nature of most businesses (e.g. distribution centres), the size and transient nature of the workforce (workers whose first language often isn’t English), low pay, long hours and the lack of clinical options for treating mental health issues beyond those provided by the NHS. But there are steps that retailers can take, supported at the top level, to help their workforce including the development of a definition of wellbeing within the organisation, putting in place a strategic mental health framework, and implementing measures to prevent, detect, treat, and support mental health issues; creating a culture where “it’s OK not to be OK”. Mental health defined The WHO defines ‘good’ mental health as a ‘state of well- being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ The modern worker is however vulnerable to an ‘always on’ technology shaped culture that has, along with other factors, driven up levels of anxiety, depression and reduced levels of mental health. Research from mental health charity Mind reveals that nearly half (48%) of workers are experiencing poor mental health in their current job and only half of those feel able to talk to their employer about their problem. The consequences of this for the retail sector range from increased absenteeism to lower employee engagement and higher staff turnover. As well as the potential impact to brand and reputation, all of this translates into a hit on the bottom line with some estimates putting the annual cost of poor mental health for retailers at between £777 and £989 per person per year. Given the scale of the problem, how can retailers go about tackling the issue?

Emerging from the shadows The positive news is that the importance of tackling mental health problems at work has emerged from the shadows and there is now a growing awareness of the need to remove the stigma once attached to those suffering from a mental health issue. In this more open culture, there is an opportunity for retail organisations to address mental health problems more effectively without incurring significant costs. An effective framework Having a mental health framework in place to help map the direction of travel is critical. An effective framework should include measures to raise employee awareness through making information, tools and support available; an encouragement of open conversations about mental health during the recruitment process and throughout the employee’s career with an organisation; the provision of good working conditions and a focus on a healthy work/life balance; training for managers to ensure that all employees are able to have regular conversations about their health and wellbeing; and, effective routine monitoring of employee mental health and wellbeing. Good communication is a challenge particularly in a retail workforce where many employees might not have access to corporate email or an intranet. But it is important to get people feeling comfortable talking about mental health. It’s also vital that line managers play their role within the framework and enabling them to become mental health champions in the workplace is key – only 25% of managers in the UK currently have some form of mental health training and this needs to be addressed. Make use of existing resources As part of the focus on mental health, there are often resources that employers can draw on such as their occupational health provision. If they have an income protection plan as part of their employee benefits package, the insurer will often also offer some form of proactive mental health education and support. Employee Assistance Programmes can be effective in offering 24/7 employee support and are a cost-effective solution available to organisations of all sizes. In addition, there are publicly available resources available from the NHS through GPs and initiatives like Every Mind Matters. Another option is to partner with a mental health charity like Mind.

“The importance of tackling mental health problems has come out of the shadows.”

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“Identify where there is a mental health problem and develop a strategy to tackle the problem”

Keep it simple However an organisation approaches mental health, the key is to keep the approach simple and realise that a lot can be done at low cost to develop strong overall wellbeing within an organisation. Tackling mental health problems in the workforce is not only the ‘right’ thing to do – today’s employees coming into the workforce will expect employers to offer a more robust and enlightened approach to mental health than was perhaps offered to previous generations – but employees with strong overall wellbeing will help deliver business dividends in the shape of improved productivity and higher profitability.

MANIE VILJOEN // // +44 (0)7393 143030 MIKE JACOBS // // +44 (0)7979 245693

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article.

This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 13.11.19. Aon UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

the retailer | winter 2020 | 17


Transforming wellbeing for a retail of the future



Retail Week’s Shopping for Retail’s Front Line report in association with Catapult identified that the average cost of recruiting retail staff is around £1,500 and staff turnover remains a key concern for retailers. Therefore, ensuring line managers are engaged with their teams can reap huge benefits for an organisation. 3. Support managers to support themselves and their staff in turbulent times It’s not just employees who have wellbeing needs, what about managers? It is crucial to recognise their needs and provide specific tools and resources to help them and their team. A number of retailers including New Look have prioritised their managers’ wellbeing and equipped them with practical tools to support their wellbeing needs and build their resilience. This is particularly important in our ever-changing industry and will become a key priority for retailers in the future, if it isn’t already. 4. Showcase your wellbeing programme and share best practice As you progress through your wellbeing journey, take pride in your programme, and share best practice and key learning with peers. Attend industry events to talk about your experiences and learn from others. There is a vast amount of knowledge in our industry which we can harness to meet the needs of our employees. And, let’s not forget those in our industry who are approaching retirement. How can we support their wellbeing throughout retirement and beyond? One in seven people will be aged over 75 by 2040. The Government’s healthy ageing challenge asks industries, including ours, “to develop products and services to help people remain independent, productive, active and socially connected for longer.” Given that our sector accounts for one third of the UK’s working population, it is imperative we make our wellbeing programmes as holistic as possible, to address the needs of our older employees. The aim is to help people enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035. We’ve embraced this challenge through our cottageHOMES estates. Our new, pioneering ‘smart villages’ give residents much greater choice over how they receive the care and support needed to maintain their independence and safety, and enhance their quality of life. There are many considerations as well as numerous opportunities to transform wellbeing throughout our organisations, so that individuals can get the right help at the right time. Together, we can be ready to support our people in a retail of the future.

All businesses have unique needs, characteristics and employees. The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, emphasise the importance of taking a holistic and proactive approach to wellbeing centred on the individual. By looking at the whole person, organisations can meet the emotional, physical, vocational and financial needs of their employees. People benefit immensely from work. According to Dr Adrian Massey, author of ‘Sick-Note Britain’, “Work is therapeutic. Study after study has found that it helps to keep well people well, and ill people to get better. Work provides purpose, routine, financial security, social interaction, distraction from life’s other problems, and opportunity for career progression and social mobility.” Employers also benefit from an engaged workforce. The CIPD found that health and wellbeing activity boosts engagement and morale, which creates a healthier and more inclusive culture, and in turn lowers sickness absence. This demonstrates why employee wellbeing is imperative for business success, but not enough organisations are putting the wellbeing of their people first. Leading wellbeing experts shared their experiences at the retailTRUST Wellbeing at Work Forum in November . We have brought together some of the main challenges and opportunities highlighted on the day to help you prepare for a retail of the future. 1. Gain buy-in from the board to invest in employee wellbeing Wellbeing starts with leaders so it is vital to get your senior team on board. Wellbeing initiatives don’t have to be expensive and you can use as many existing and free resources as you can. Positioned as part of your staff benefits package, digital platforms such as, which has been created specifically for everyone involved with retail and the supporting service industries, can be extremely cost effective. Digital support enables colleagues to take proactive control of their wellbeing needs, develop their skills and build their personal resilience. This means that they can access help whenever and however they choose, particularly before any issues escalate. This form of early intervention is found to be less intensive, it increases self-esteem and motivation, and provides a longer and fuller recovery. 2. Ensure line managers are engaged with their teams The quality of the employee and line manager relationship is key to an individual’s health and wellbeing. People who feel listened to and valued are more likely to remain with their employer. Respect, care, kindness and flexibility can have an enormous return on investment.

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retailTRUST is the trade charity for everyone working in retail and the supporting service industries. The charity has been improving the wellbeing of employees and their families since 1832. For more information about how retailTRUST can work with your business, visit or email me directly at


the retailer | winter 2020 | 19


Building financial wellness through earned wage access


HOW GIVING EMPLOYEES GREATER CONTROL OVER HOW AND WHEN THEY ARE PAID CAN TRANSFORM MORALE AND ENGAGEMENT In this age of economic uncertainty, financial security can be hard to come by, regardless of the industry in which someone works. Rising prices of goods, weak wage growth and a plethora of other factors are contributing to a situation where many workers are living paycheque to paycheque. The retail sector is no different to any other in this respect. An instant recovery for the UK economy might be unlikely, but there are a few things retailers can do in the here and now to give an extra helping hand to their employees. One option is to look at how working culture has evolved to embrace greater agility – think flexible hours or remote working – and consider how this can be adapted to give employees greater financial independence. This is where extending this flexibility to the way retail workers are paid – by embracing earned wage access – can make a big difference. A time of trial for workers The typical UK worker is facing a huge number of challenges, each of which represents a hurdle to achieving financial wellness. The cost of things like rent, transport and household bills are all on the rise. Combine this with political challenges and the country’s economic struggles more generally, and it is easy to see how the outlook is a tough one for many employees. The increase in demand for food banks is a case in point: despite their best efforts, many working people are feeling the squeeze. Flexibility for workers is key Despite these difficulties, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future if retailers are open to adopting new ways of working. We now live in an era where flexible working in some form is the norm rather than the exception, which serves to relieve the pressure on employees by giving them more autonomy when it comes to when and how they carry out their assigned working hours. For retail specifically, this includes not just the better-known practices like flexible shifts or part-time work, but also staggered hours or job-sharing arrangements for management staff. This desire for working conditions that are better tailored to individual employee circumstances is becoming more pronounced as millennials and Generation Z become the dominant demographics in the workforce. Evidently, showing that you have your employees’ best interests in mind goes a long way towards reducing absence and increasing engagement. That said, there is room for this flexibility to stretch further.

Enter earned wage access This is where the concept of earned wage access has great potential. It is a relatively new idea, but one that we see becoming much more commonplace in 2020 and beyond. In short, earned wage access means employees are able to get hold of their earned money immediately after completing a shift, rather than waiting until the end of the week or month as would traditionally be the case. Its aim is to help workers break free of the month-to-month cycle that can leave many struggling for funds in the run-up to pay day. Essentially, the ultimate goal is to help employees achieve financial wellness: a state where they are able to plan their outgoings more effectively. This helps to reduce many of the common money-related anxieties, such as unexpected emergency expenses, a reliance on pay day loans, or a need to pay costly bank fees or credit card interest. How can retailers make it happen? Making earned wage access a reality might seem like a sweeping change to the way payroll works, but there are methods and technologies available that can make this evolution much more straightforward than it seems. Inevitably, there will be some alterations to established processes and a wider cultural change that will have to be communicated to employees, but with the right approach, this need not be too disruptive to the business. As is so often the case, technology is the crucial enabler here. Firstly, it is important that retailers have a comprehensive human capital management system in place that enables worker time and attendance data to be recorded accurately in real-time. Once this clarity has been achieved, companies are in a much better position to effectively monitor employee movements, and align this with budget and cashflow planning. This can then be combined with specialist earned wage access software, which enables earnings to be released to employees almost immediately, without interfering with other payroll activities or impacting on cashflow. A bright new dawn for worker wellbeing Financial wellness is the next great hurdle for retailers to conquer as far as employee welfare is concerned. Flexible working practices are very much an established characteristic of the sector, but there is still plenty more that can be done to give workers that extra degree of independence that will help them cope financially during tough times. Earned wage access is a practice that might not be ubiquitous in the retail workplace as yet, but can have a transformative effect if companies are willing to consider it. After all, the value of a motivated, fulfilled and happy workforce can never be underestimated, especially in an industry where so many employees deal directly with the general public on a daily basis. By offering this added financial flexibility, retailers can break new boundaries in positive employee engagement.

20 | winter 2020 | the retailer


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the retailer | winter 2020 | 21

UK/EU trade


We need a mutually beneficial deal for UK and EU retailer and consumers

William Bain Policy Adviser - Europe and International british Retail Consortium

Firstly, in order to achieve an agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas, the EU has set: • Red lines of a deal on mutual fisheries opportunities with the UK by the middle of 2020. • A clear level playing field agenda of dynamic alignment with EU rules on state aid and competition. • Non-regression clauses on environmental, social and labour rights. During the UK General Election campaign, the Conservatives declared the ambition for autonomy on state aid rules. Pragmatic analysis of the economic impact of the trade-offs between autonomy and market access will be key to any compromise here. Secondly, on regulation – given the UK Government rejects both a Single Market arrangement and the approach signposted by the 2018 Chequers White Paper for wholesale alignment across trade in goods – can both sides reach an agreement to limit new trade friction? A deal based simply upon the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreements, or the World Customs Organisation (WCO’s) customs agreement, or World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) agreements on Intellectual Property, would represent a significant rupture from the regulatory model of the last thirty years. New barriers on customs red tape, transit, indirect taxation, sanitary and phytosanitary paperwork, conformity assessment - via border or market product checks - would bring costs, delays, and reduced product quality for consumers on perishable items. A good alignment, deal could limit friction in several ways: • Through a common SPS system involving no checks between GB and the EU or within the UK. • Common regulatory approaches on toys, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electrical and industrial products. • Keeping customs red tape low through agreed waivers from the need for exit or entrance summary declarations. • Common framework for VAT and excise. • Accords on conformity assessment, transit, security, safety.

We need a mutually beneficial deal for UK and EU retailer and consumers The UK General Election of 12 December 2019 resolved the ‘if’ and the ‘when’ of the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020. But the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of the future relationship is still shrouded in winter fog. The redrafted EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill received Royal Assent at the end of January, paving the way for the UK to enter the transition period on 1 February when existing trading rules on customs, indirect taxation and goods regulations will apply and be enforced until the end of 2020. The UK Government intends to rule out an extension to the transition period, meaning any new trade agreement will have to be negotiated and capable at least of provisional application by the end of this year. Attention has turned quickly to the shape of the future UK-EU trading relationship. The election results appear to have taken options such as a customs union or Norway-style relationship with the EU off the table. It is inevitable that some new friction will apply to the movement of goods between the UK and EU by retailers and other industries. To offer one example, retailers moving goods between the UK and France will need to be aware of the new requirements from rules of origin - which will depend on the tariff relationship between both sides and what will count as qualifying content involving third party inputs or processing. It will mean additional red tape in terms of proving the origin of goods crossing the border. Some form of customs declarations appears inevitable, costing as much as £56 per individual item, with further implications on costs for goods movements. On the application of the new trading arrangements for Northern Ireland (NI), rules of destination will similarly apply to goods despatched from Great Britain (GB) which may terminate their journey in NI or pass into the EU Single Market through entering the Republic of Ireland (ROI). There are two key areas required to avoid a cliff-edge fall into World Trade Organisation (WTO) trading terms at the end of this year – a zero tariff, zero quota commitment, and a good alignment, low friction deal which limits new red tape for retail and costs and delays for consumers.

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