Heavy mental health toll for retail sector as challenges intensify

More than three-quarters of retail workers have experienced stress, anxiety, or depression in the past four weeks as retail crime and the rising cost-of-doing-business take a debilitating toll on mental health, according to a new survey.

An Australian Retailers Association (ARA) survey has revealed the extent of the crisis ahead of RUOK? Day, next Thursday the 14th of September.

Some of the key findings include:

  • 78% of respondents experienced stress, anxiety or depression in the past 4 weeks. ​
  • 49% of respondents have been physically assaulted or harassed while working.
  • 36% of respondents say their mental health has not improved since end of pandemic.
  • ​34% of respondents say retail crime is affecting their team’s mental health​
  • ​45% of respondents need more support to manage mental health issues.

In wake of the findings, the ARA is urging Government to provide more tools and support to help businesses combat the rise of mental health issues in the workplace.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said it is one of the most challenging times for the sector in recent history.

“The cost-of-living crisis, the cost of doing business crisis and the fear of being assaulted or abused at work is having a detrimental effect on the mental health and stress levels of retail workers,” he said.

“This isn’t a battle that retailers can fight alone. Almost half of our respondents say they need more help to manage mental health issues in their workplace.

“Retailers are at the coalface of the post-pandemic economic crisis, but they’re also shouldering the social ramifications such as the increase in violent and anti-social behaviour.”

Retail is the fourth highest industry lodging Workers Compensation Claims for Mental Health as recorded by Safe Work Australia.

“The rise of workplace mental health claims is another significant and increasing cost to businesses”,” Mr Zahra added.

Ahead of RUOK? Day, the ARA is pleading with shoppers to be respectful of retail staff.

The ARA has an upcoming webinar to help retailers address mental health, discussing the effects of high stress, burnout, challenging financial situations and the relationship to anxiety and depression.

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