COVID-19, Christmas and working conditions are stressing retail workers out
Some retailers may have eliminated hazard pay, but the threat of COVID-19 is far from over and frontline workers are feeling the pressure.
Fifty-five percent of retail workers are feeling more stressed during the crisis, 60 percent report having higher levels of anxiety and 53 percent greater frustration, according to the findings of a new survey by TollFreeForwarding.com shared with RetailWire.
The length of the crisis and the associated pressures are also affecting retail workers’ job performance. Thirty-one say it has affected the quality of their work, 42 percent cite less motivation and 48 percent report having sleep issues.
Workers need and are looking for more support from their employers, with many expecting to see even more demands placed on them as the Christmas selling season approaches. Retailers are looking to spread out the crowds of people in stores by beginning holiday promotions next month. This may help in one respect, but many believe the workload will be shifted to store-level workers engaged in fulfilling online orders and those laboring in warehouses, struggling to keep pace with potentially record levels of purchases made by consumers.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that workers in online fulfillment warehouses have seen conditions on the job deteriorate as they try to keep up with demands.
“We see it every year: When demand increases, so does the pressure on warehouse workers,” Beth Gutelius, associate director of the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Post. “This year, many workers are already operating at elevated levels because of the pandemic. Then you layer the holiday peak season on top of that, along with a surge of new hires, and there are real questions about worker safety.”
Amazon.com is expected to run its annual Prime Day promotion next month and many others are likely to have competing events. Sales generated in last year’s 48-hour promotion exceeded Amazon’s combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Research from Coresight Research recently found that one-third of Americans are expecting to make purchases on Prime Day this year. Twenty-five percent expect to do the same on Cyber Monday and 16 percent will purchase something on Black Friday.
- Workplace Burnout: How is the Current Health Crisis Affecting our Mental Health – TollFreeForwarding.com
- Overworked and exhausted, warehouse workers brace for a frenzied holiday rush – The Washington Post
- COVID-19 will redefine the meaning of Christmas creep in 2020 – RetailWire
- Will the late Prime Day sabotage or catapult holiday spending? – RetailWire
- Can retailers mitigate holiday delivery fee spikes? – RetailWire
- Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever? – RetailWire
- How can retailers cope with anxiety about the future? – RetailWire
- Are large grocery chains putting profits before people? – RetailWire
- Should Amazon, Walmart, others be held liable for workers sickened by COVID-19? – RetailWire
- Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes? – RetailWire
- Fear, heroism and wrongful death lawsuits in the age of coronavirus – RetailWire
- Should working in retail warehouses be safer than stores? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that demands related to the continuing pandemic and the upcoming holidays are increasing stress levels for retail workers? How can retailers meet the needs of customers and protect the health of its workers, including their mental health, in the weeks and months to come?
Join the Discussion!
8 Comments on "COVID-19, Christmas and working conditions are stressing retail workers out"
You must be logged in to post a comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Managing Director, GlobalData
The holidays are always a stressful period for retail workers. While it is supposed to be a jolly time of year, for those in retail it is busy and often involves having to deal with stressed and occasionally rude customers. Add the concerns about the pandemic and some of the operational pressures from things like increased fulfilment from stores into the mix and you have a recipe for a very challenging period. Retailers must ensure they look after the health and wellness of their employees and provide good training and a generous bonus for a job well done.
B2B Content Strategist
The pandemic and upcoming holidays are stressing out everyone in retail – except Jeff Bezos.
As the studies show, frontline and warehouse workers face intense physical, emotional and mental stressors this year. Retailers need to pay attention, as workers’ sense of uncertainty and powerlessness harms productivity and morale.
It’s in retailers’ best interests to keep workers feeling healthy, safe and valued. Providing a degree of schedule flexibility, Q4 bonuses, mental health resources and, ideally, health benefits and permanent roles could help workers feel cared for and motivated to persevere and give their best.
Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM
There is no question that retail, CPG, healthcare, police and so many other professions are working “with their hair on fire” due to all of the crises today. For retailers, the need is there to be sensitive to the mental and physical health of employees. With the holiday season approaching and expectations reaching record levels for revenues, the time is now to survey all employees anonymously to identify critical trends and immediately respond to those issues with targeted solutions.
Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates
Remember those photos of hundreds of shoppers eager to storm the doors for Black Friday sales? Those people will be shopping, but from their homes, and a new army of sales associates will be tasked with fulfilling those orders from stores. It will be important for retail companies to take care of those workers, and compensate them fairly. Reputations depend on it.
Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics
I’d now add the whole delivery chain of workers to this list. From warehouse pickers and packers to USPS, and UPS, and FedEx, and Amazon van drivers, and …
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
Exactly right, Jeff! And further back into the food chain to those (often migrants and others who are without the wages, care, dignity and support they deserve) who are growing, picking, processing and transporting our food and other products.
Professor, International Business, Guizhou University of Finance & Economics and University of Sanya, China.
Loyalty & Marketing Strategist, Comarch
Holiday season in general coupled with the pandemic is sure to increase stress levels of retail workers. Retailers need to tie up with health experts to provide the necessary support their workers needs at this time, including a good incentive program to appreciate them for all their hard work.