The back of a colleague in store

We’re doing a lot to make stores safe places to work, but even the store with the best protection can be susceptible to crime. There will always be incidents that need external support, so we’re looking at ways to build strong, supportive networks for colleagues both before and after they experience retail crime.

Our Local Community Fund is helping create safe environments for our colleagues to work in, and we’ll be discussing that later this week. Investing in our local causes is a key part of building communities that can protect our stores from retail crime, but we can do more, like communicating with police in the right way.

Building a safe community with help from local police

Most police forces are majorly cut back. When colleagues report small incidents that don’t threaten the public and they can’t do anything about, it can be a nuisance. What’s not a nuisance – and actually really helps – is building relationships with the police before crimes happen.

Stores have started inviting them to visit to discuss the community and have a brew, and it’s making a difference to their safety. In one area, the sergeant now books constables and PCSOs to patrol nearby and check in on colleagues. Seeing a regular police presence in the area is a huge deterrent for criminals, and it also makes colleagues feel safe and supported. They can do their jobs confidently and without feeling like they’re alone. It’s also encouraged the stores to get involved in community initiatives like Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers, which adds an extra level of support.

Responsive, impartial after support from LifeWorks

LifeWorks is our after support service. Every time there’s an incident, a robbery or an assault that impacts colleagues, they get in touch with the right people and provide the right support. This often means going into store, talking to colleagues who’ve been affected and helping them through it.

At the beginning of the year, one store had four robberies within ten weeks. Apparently, when Lifeworks went in, the whole team just started crying. Having someone visit that was dedicated to caring for their wellbeing was a huge release, and they went back to work the next day feeling refreshed and like a huge weight had been lifted.

It’s important that we’re there for our colleagues as soon as they need us, and with LifeWorks this is a lot easier. They get in touch with colleagues right away, planning support visits within hours of me informing them of an incident. They’re flexible too, and can support stores in whatever way’s best. They can meet at a local community centre or anywhere that makes colleagues feel safe and provides the supportive environment they need.

Ryan Smith
Retail Response and Resilience Officer