How Retailers Are Using AI To Boost Worker Wellbeing

The retail industry is standing at the cusp of a transformative era with the introduction of generative AI technologies aimed at enhancing staff wellbeing and retention. The Retail Trust, a pivotal charity within the sector, has taken a groundbreaking step by developing a ‘happiness dashboard’, in collaboration with leading retailers such as FatFace and Next, and tech partners BJSS and WorkL. This innovative platform aims to track and improve staff wellbeing trends, showcasing the tangible value of mental health initiatives not only for businesses but also for the broader economy.

In a sector where 80% of workers reported declining wellbeing in the previous year, with nearly half feeling unsafe at work due to a surge in assaults and retail crime, the need for robust support systems has never been more urgent. The dashboard operates by identifying trends in employee usage of Retail Trust wellbeing services, generating actionable recommendations to enhance engagement, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and bolster staff retention.

One of the dashboard’s most compelling features is its ability to quantify the economic impact of mental health strategies. By calculating savings from reduced sick leave, improved worker efficiency, and decreased turnover, it provides a compelling argument for the financial viability of investing in staff wellbeing. Research supported by the Retail Trust indicates that for every £1 spent on mental health support, businesses could see a return of £5.30.

The platform also utilizes the Wellby standard, a life satisfaction measure that suggests improving an individual’s happiness by one point on a ten-point scale could contribute £13,000 to the economy, highlighting the broader societal benefits of such initiatives.

Feedback from participating retailers underscores the dashboard’s effectiveness. FatFace reported valuable insights into employee feelings and engagement with recommended resources, particularly among remote workers. Similarly, Next praised the platform for offering actionable insights into their staff’s wellbeing needs, facilitating a supportive and inclusive work environment.

As the retail sector navigates the post-pandemic landscape, the challenges of maintaining a healthy and motivated workforce are significant. However, the Retail Trust’s happiness dashboard represents a promising leap forward, harnessing the power of AI to not only track and improve staff wellbeing but also to demonstrate the undeniable value of such investments. This initiative marks a vital step towards a more sustainable and human-centered retail industry, setting a precedent for other sectors to follow.

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