More than a quarter of retail workers want out, new research shows

The workforce crisis in retail is threatening to drive existing workers away from the industry according to new research released by Deputy, the leading workforce management app.

In total, 28% of UK retail workers want to leave their jobs, with 20% hoping to switch to a new industry and 8% looking to quit, with a view to retiring or returning to education.

Despite the current worker shortages across the sector, 63% of retail workers say they are concerned about job security, with 27% ‘very concerned’.

These concerns stem from a combination of Covid-19 and the economy, with 60% of retail workers citing Covid-19 as a reason for their concern and 58% citing the economy.

The findings are revealed in Deputy’s global State of Shift Work report, which looks at workforce trends across the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

David Kelly, general manager for EMEA at Deputy, said: “One of our key industries is caught in a vicious circle. When you’re struggling to recruit, it puts more pressure on your existing staff, which in turn can lead to burn out and the decision to leave the industry altogether.”

Data in the report highlights the impact that the double-whammy of Brexit and the pandemic has had on businesses and their workers:

  • 62% of the UK shift workers surveyed reported that their company had had difficulty hiring in the last 12 months
  • As a result, 46% have had to work more shifts
  • And 45% have found it harder to take time off

Workers’ top three dislikes about shift work were found to be negative health impacts, a lack of control, and unpredictability.

Kelly said: “Retail workers have been through an enormously tough time over the past two years. This data highlights the importance of business owners and managers maintaining regular, two-way communication with their workforce to allay fears about job security and to make sure staff feel valued.

“Chaotic last minute shift scheduling, and regularly asking team members to work unplanned overtime, can contribute to financial, emotional and family stress. This sort of scheduling gap makes shift workers dependent on last minute shifts to keep food on the table and is bound to affect staff retention. If we want to attract more workers into these industries, we need to treat our shift workers with respect, pay them fairly and provide them with more protection and predictability of when they will be working.”