The Works, a UK high-street retailer renowned for its arts and crafts supplies, stationery, toys, games, and books, faced a significant challenge in 2022. The retail sector in the UK and Ireland was grappling with a disturbing surge in abuse towards staff, causing concerns about employee safety, recruitment, and retention.
In response, David Pardoe, appointed Head of Profit Protection in December 2021, recognised the urgency of addressing crime risk and disorder affecting The Works’ stores. This case study delves into how The Works successfully tackled this challenge and prioritised the safety of its employees.
As verbal abuse and violent incidents towards retail staff reached alarming levels in 2022, The Works found itself confronted with a critical issue. The ACS Crime Report highlighted over 800,000 incidents of verbal abuse and 25,216 violent incidents towards staff within the year, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity among employees. The challenge was affecting staff well-being and contributing to a recruitment and retention crisis within the industry. With safety concerns becoming a part of the job description for retail workers, The Works aimed to address the issue head-on.
Pardoe led the charge in finding a solution that prioritised the safety of The Works’ employees. The search led to adopting the MySOS device – a discreet, easy-to-use personal safety device. This innovative device allows users to activate an alarm at the press of a button, connecting them to Peoplesafe’s dedicated Alarm Receiving Centre within seconds.
Trained Alarm Controllers are available 24/7 to handle situations and take the necessary actions, including directly summoning the police to the user’s location if required. All alarms raised are recorded and admissible as evidence in prosecutions.
The portable nature of the MySOS device allows employees to wear it on a lanyard, keyring, or belt holster, catering to individual needs. Colleagues who feel unsafe during their commutes can carry the device outside working hours. The Works has adopted a proactive approach, allocating MySOS personal safety devices to any site where employee safety may be compromised.
Implementing the Peoplesafe service has yielded positive results for The Works, enhancing employee safety and providing peace of mind, knowing that help is available 24/7. The proactive approach to issuing MySOS devices to all at-risk sites, including store colleagues and those potentially unsafe during commutes, showcases The Works’ commitment to its staff’s well-being.
Pardoe emphasised the importance of providing a service beyond official working hours, especially when colleagues are expected to open or close retail stores. The initiative reflects The Works’ dedication to its people-centric values, aiming to ensure that every colleague in the team feels safe and supported. This safety solution’s success protects retail heroes and reinforces The Works’ position as a responsible and caring employer in the ever-evolving retail landscape.