Workplace wellbeing: the plight of the female retail worker

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Women in retail are much more unhappy with current levels of workplace wellbeing than their male counterparts, according to research. This is a critical issue for businesses given 60 percent of UK retail workers today are women.

The research from ICM, commissioned by Income Protection specialist Unum, found that less than half of women in the retail sector (47%) said they felt well looked after by their employer, compared to 76 percent of men. Only 23 percent of women in the sector felt their wellbeing had improved over the last three years, compared to 30 percent of men, and almost a third (32%) felt their wellbeing had actually got worse over the last three years.

What’s important?

The research identified a number of elements that impact on perceptions of wellbeing. When women in retail were asked what they considered important, 89 percent said a good relationship with their line manager, 84 percent said reasonable hours and 78 percent said feeling empowered at work. It also found one of the most tangible ways for employers to show they care was a full and comprehensive benefits package which was important to 63 percent of women in the sector.

Marco Forato, CMO of Unum said: “This research shows that retail companies face the very real risk of losing talented female workers if they don’t take steps to improve perceptions of wellbeing. With staff turnover costing, on average, £20,114 per employee in the retail sector and women representing an important majority of the retail workforces, this is an issue retail businesses need to tackle now. One of the most tangible ways to do this is to provide a best practice employee benefits package, including long-term benefits like Income Protection which supports staff financially if they fall ill.”

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