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Keeping employees safe for Co-op

The challenge

Theft, armed robbery and verbal abuse are a growing problem in retail. The British Retail Consortium estimates that retail crime costs the industry a staggering £700 million pounds. Violent incidents in retail stores have doubled in the last year – the equivalent of 13 workers suffer from injuries or are hospitalised every day.

How a member of staff handles a challenging situation can make all the difference to their personal safety. Co-op is tackling the issue head on with a major initiative to keep its 72,000 strong workforce safe across its 2,800 stores. This includes more CCTV systems, changes to store layouts and a programme of bespoke e-learning developed by Kallidus to help staff handle conflict and hostile situations more effectively.


Watching the drama unfold

Kallidus produced an e-learning programme using hard-hitting immersive video. We filmed 20 actors in Co-op stores to create a real-world learning experience that staff can easily relate to. We used a Co-op employee to present five different video scenarios teaching staff how to deal with angry and abusive customers, age restricted sales, anti-social behaviour, public theft and store robbery.

The learner is asked how they think they should handle each scenario and is shown how to handle the situation correctly and what happens when things go wrong. We used a ‘temperature gauge’ to measure the mood of the protagonists and perspectives from store colleagues and customers to reinforce the learning.


Encouraging behavioural change

All too often assault occurs when a conversation with a customer turns sour. However, there is growing evidence that the use of effective communication techniques and styles can result in a more positive outcome.

The course has been designed to encourage behavioural change and to improve the outcome of the most difficult situations staff face at the till and on the shop floor. We also produced a module for managers addressing crime from a business perspective and showcasing measures that can be taken to pre-empt crime.


Achieving a better outcome

As well as helping staff to deal with conflict in challenging situations, the training course provides reassurance that the business cares about their safety and wellbeing.

Staff who have completed the module are now better-protected thanks to the new skills they have learnt, including:

  • How their behaviour can influence other people’s behaviour
  • How their behaviour can help them and their customers stay safe
  • The role customer service plays in deterring crime
  • Practical strategies for avoiding conflict in store
  • How to respond to adverse events, what they should and shouldn’t do in major situations of conflict and how to get support

“We have delivered out to about 54% of the estate now, so c. 30k colleagues, some very positive feedback from colleagues. Our key stat is pre the activity we started 4 years ago we were 62% adverse for violent incident based on British Retail Consortium stats and we are now performing 12% better than the industry average. This has been down to a number of things including the investment in equipment, process change, strong leadership messages and enhanced training.”

Compliance Improvement & Projects Manager, Co-op

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