Impact of coronavirus puts deskless retail workers’ mental health under strain, Quinyx research shows

New research from workforce management expert, Quinyx, reveals the impact coronavirus is having on the mental health of deskless retail workers across the UK. The research reveals that pre-existing anxieties and mental health issues among deskless retail workers are being made worse as a result of the pandemic. 

Prior to the outbreak, 38% of deskless retail workers said that their job negatively impacted their mental health in the last 12 months. Since the outbreak, more than half (54%) say that coronavirus has made this worse.

Cuts to pay are likely to be playing an important role. 

Prior to the pandemic, 38% of deskless workers in the retail industry who said that work contributed negatively to their mental health over the last 12 months cited low pay as one of the main contributing factors. During the coronavirus crisis, 35% of deskless retail workers have reported cuts to pay due to reduced hours or sales. A further 18% have reported being furloughed, which will likely have had implications on pay. 

Concerns of closures and redundancies in the industry may also mean that job security is taking a toll on the mental health of these workers. Since the pandemic, 46% of deskless retail workers still employed either do not plan or do not know if they plan to stay in their jobs long term.

And, in a sector that is facing increased pressure during the pandemic, potential underlying anxieties around expectations and the working environment could also be playing a role. Prior to Covid-19, 41% of those who felt that their job has negatively impacted their mental health over the past 12 months cited expectations of employers/managers being too high as a main reason, and 62% said they had considered quitting their job because they were unhappy with their work environment.

The research also revealed that before the outbreak more than half (51%) of deskless retail workers who felt that their job negatively impacted their mental health over the last 12 months said one of the main reasons was that they felt that they were not appreciated for the work they do, while 29% said one of the main reasons was that they were expected to work extremely long hours.

Erik Fjellborg, founder and CEO at Quinyx said: “Deskless workers in the retail industry – especially those supplying essential goods such as food – have been critical to the UK response to coronavirus. As the UK moves into a recovery phase and more shops start to open, they will continue to play a key role. 

‘’Meanwhile, with the disruption pushing many retail businesses to the brink and fighting for survival, huge numbers of deskless workers in the sector have been furloughed or are experiencing cuts to pay. Unsurprisingly, our research shows that the impact on the mental health of all of these workers is significant.

‘’For retail businesses to survive the crisis and adapt to their new normal, it is vital that employers do all they can to protect the mental health of their deskless workers. Whilst in the current context, many employers can’t afford to increase salaries, there are other more immediate ways in which they can support their workers. Employers in the retail industry can show their deskless workers how valued they are, and reduce potential anxieties, by building more flexibility into busy schedules and keeping channels of communication with employees open – ultimately finding adaptable ways of working that work for all.’’