Coronavirus: The Biggest In-Store Improvements You Can Make For Your Frontline Workers

For can’t-close retailers, such as grocery and convenience stores as well as pharmacies and other critical services, frontline workers are putting their own lives at risk for the sake of their customers. Without a doubt, retail workers are playing an essential but much-overlooked role in the fight against the Coronavirus. However, their plight and sacrifices are sadly going unnoticed with many shop workers reporting crime, abuse and detrimental impacts on their physical and mental health.

As a retailer, the health and wellbeing of your workforce should be one of your top priorities. In this post, we are sharing just some of the ways you can help to lighten the load for your frontline workers to increase staff wellbeing and increase business efficiencies.

The Impact On Shop Workers

In the initial stages of the Coronavirus outbreak, shop workers were struggling with the demand in supermarkets during a stockpiling frenzy. Most supermarkets even had measures in place to limit the number of groceries that each customer could buy. However, for shop workers, the stress and struggles of the job have continued.

There have been many reports about the rising levels of violence, assaults, and abuse against retail staff. This seems shocking, considering shop workers are putting their lives at risk and doing their best to keep stocked shelves and keeping their customers happy and healthy. These assaults are not only a risk to physical health but also long-term mental health too. Many shop workers are reporting increasing levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace.  

How To Improve Working Conditions For Retail Workers – Short Term Measures

Increase Worker Safety

The first priority for retailers is to ensure that their shop floor workers feel safe and protected. This includes installing protective screens, guaranteeing widespread distribution of hand sanitiser and supplying anti-bacterial cleaner for their workstations.

Shopworkers may also feel safer with additional security staff on-site to help combat the threat of any violence and abuse by unhappy customers.

All retailers need to have a clear safety plan (incorporating regular handwashing) that all frontline workers can clearly and easily follow during their working day.

Create Wellbeing Areas

Another hurdle for retailers is maintaining social distancing for staff during breaks. Often staff rooms or break areas are small, which means there needs to be a strict rota in place for rest periods to ensure everyone has a time and place to unwind while respecting social distancing.

In some cases, it may be necessary for retailers to create additional break areas across the building. Perhaps deploying a meeting room as a new break area or utilising another area of the building which is currently empty.

With stress levels for retail workers rising during the current crisis, the focus on wellbeing is essential. Consider the aspects that you can incorporate into a break area which will promote welfare. Issuing mindfulness colouring or puzzle books to staff may help, as will playing relaxing music or offering links to wellbeing programs and apps such as guided meditations.

Think about the physical space of break areas too, can you add colour, posters, decorative items and furnishings to make a more comfortable rest area?

Relax and Revitalise Care Packages

Many retailers, such as John Lewis are distributing care packages to frontline NHS workers. However, retailers could offer the same level of care to their workers too. The packages needn’t run at great expense and could be as simple as restorative herbal teas, chocolate and hand cream. However, it is small gestures like this that show workers that they are valued.

Ultimately, it will be gestures such as these which staff members will remember and share with friends and family, helping to increase brand awareness and brand perception. It is tools like this which can considerably improve employee engagement and turn your employees into promoters. This can be particularly important if your business regular deploys Net Promoter Score tests as a measurement of staff engagement.

Long-Term Measures For Improving Frontline Retail Operations

While the outbreak has meant there is an urgency for short-term measures to support frontline workers in the interim; it is also important to consider long-term implications.


The spread of Coronavirus has shone a spotlight on how viruses can spread in retail spaces. In fact, scientists in Finland have even created a simulation of how far airborne virus particles can spread in a grocery store. With this in mind, retail hygiene practices may require long-term improvement in order to maintain the safety of their customers and workers.

Shelf-Edge Technology

Another way to help to reduce the pressure on shop workers is through shelf-edge technology such as electronic shelf labels. These mean that prices and stock changes are updated electronically, so that frontline workers do not have to change prices manually. Consequently, retail workers can focus on customer-centric initiatives and more meaningful tasks.

Electronic shelf labels can also help with managing inventory as well as warehouse to shop floor transitions. They can also help with picking orders (ideal for online orders and click and collect). They can also help customers to find products in-store more quickly with handy search stations in store – this also reduces the reliance on your critical shop floor workers.

Cash Handling Technology

While cash still remains a vital form of payment, it is essential to limit contact with all potentially virus-exposed material (including loyalty and payment cards too) to prevent the potential spread of infection. There are lots of cash-handling technology options available such as one-touch note solutions which are positioned at the point of sale. This means checkout workers can insert, validate and count notes in just one touch. Therefore, eliminating the need to touch notes or count cash at the end of the day.

Furthermore, with cash handling technology till reconciliations take just moments, significantly faster and more accurate than manual cash counting. This can also reduce the time your workers spend on non-customer-focused activities and thus reducing the workload of these busy employees.

If you’d like to find out more about how cash handling technology can reduce the pressure on your workforce while improving time and cost efficiency, get in touch with the team at Volumatic to find out more.

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