The Works is a prominent high-street retailer with over 525 stores across the UK and Ireland selling arts and crafts supplies, stationary, toys, games and books. A staple of the British high-street, it is seen as the go-to place for reading, learning, creativity and play.
Britain’s retail sector is facing a widespread problem as abuse towards staff continues to rise. In 2022 alone, the ACS Crime Report estimated that there had been over 800,000 incidents of verbal abuse and 25,216 violent incidents towards staff. Too often, employees do not feel safe, and this is leading to a recruitment and retention crisis.
Risk has become part of the job description for retail staff. Workers in this sector think about their safety more than any other industry, with 27% thinking about it at least once a week. Despite not being viewed as a dangerous profession, violence and abuse against retail workers is nothing new.
When David Pardoe joined the company as Head of Profit Protection in December 2021, he quickly found that a number of retail stores were reporting events of crime risk and general disorder on a weekly and occasionally daily basis. In Dave’s view, the events experienced by store colleagues required mitigation outside of the security measures that were currently in place. The question of colleague safety and crime risk quickly rose to the top of his agenda.
“Acts of aggression and violence towards retail workers have become so prevalent across the sector now, that many employers run the risk of the problem racing out of their control”, says David Pardoe. “The retail landscape has changed beyond all recognition, and we have experienced that first-hand in our own stores.”
The Works set out on a search for a solution that teams would feel comfortable using, ultimately opting for the MySOS device. The MySOS is a discreet, easy-to-use personal safety device which allows users to activate an alarm at the press of a button.
Within seconds, users are connected to Peoplesafe’s dedicated Alarm Receiving Centre where trained Alarm Controllers are on hand 24/7. Alarm Controllers will handle the situation, ensuring the right course of action is taken – including summoning the police directly to the user’s location bypassing the 999 system, should the need arise. All alarms raised to the Peoplesafe ARC are recorded and can be admissible as evidence in prosecutions.
The device can be worn on a lanyard, keyring or belt holster, to best suit the needs of the employee. The portable nature of the device also means that colleagues who feel unsafe commuting can carry the device with them outside of working hours.
The Works now allocate a MySOS personal safety device to any site where employee safety may be compromised.
Implementing the Peoplesafe service has not only improved employee safety but has provided peace of mind that help is available 24/7, should it be needed.
By providing this service to our people, we aim to live and breathe the people-centric values that have always formed the foundation for our business. We believe it’s fundamental that every colleague in our team feels safe and supported.”