Enhancing Retail Safety: How The Works Transformed Staff Wellbeing with Reveal Body Cameras

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Enhancing Retail Safety: How The Works Transformed Staff Wellbeing with Reveal Body Cameras

The absolute beauty of this proof of concept is that it has given us all the answers. In my 30 years in this business this, genuinely, has been the easiest, most rewarding, and most collaborative proof of concept I have ever been involved in, and one that has just been embraced so heartily by colleagues. It's been an absolute joy. Every step of the way, it's felt like a true collaboration.David Pardoe, Head of Profit Protection, The Works

The Works is a British retailer selling books, art and craft materials, gifts, toys, games and stationery. Founded 40 years ago, it now has over 500 stores across the UK and Ireland. Given the nature of its offering, it’s perhaps not so surprising that nearly 60% of their annual revenue is concentrated in the run-up to Christmas. Outside of that period, the stores are managed with a small number of staff, often comprised of young people in their first retail role.

With a predominately adolescent customer base, the retailer saw an increase in abusive, embarrassing, and intimidating behaviour towards their staff – often for no good reason other than exercises in anti-social behaviour. These led to increases in them losing valued members of staff.

Head of Profit Protection David Pardoe began to wonder if body-worn cameras could be an effective solution to this problem.

“Society can be an absolutely cruel place to work in retail. Colleagues are more vulnerable than ever. So, you've got to ask yourself as an employer, “what am I doing to strengthen a feeling of colleague safety?” So that colleagues can come into work and there is a tangible element of assurance around their safety. Colleagues can see when an employer is prepared to put their hand into their pocket for well-thought out, well-crafted interventions that, at the end of the day, give them that level of support that's required.”

Retail Reveal Branded
Retail Reveal Branded

David met Reveal at a Retail Risk event, and had experience of body cameras in a previous role, but none like the Reveal Calla camera: the discreet and lightweight camera specifically designed for use in retail settings. David continues:

“We chose to work with Reveal because a) they offer the technical performance and b) they offer the ability to equip retail colleagues without making them look like a Robocop! Others offer solutions which are totally wrong for a retail colleague, whereas the Reveal device is so discreet. Reveal knew what we needed straightaway. They know retail. They value the retail sector. Plus, they understand our budget constraints. So they advised us on taking a really entry-level piece of kit, which was proportionate and easy for us to use and manage in each store.”

Reveal suggested The Works run a small trial at five of their regional stores to see how this technology would fit with their business.

This three month pilot scheme proved a success. An end-user survey at the end of the trial captured some powerful statistics from The Works store colleagues using the cameras:

  • 93% agreed that the cameras had led to less instances of physical or verbal threats from customers, and acknowledged a reduction in the time they had to spend dealing with abusive behaviour.
  • 83% recorded more job satisfaction.
  • 90% agreed that their personal wellbeing and happiness had improved as a direct result of having access to the technology.

When asked to comment on a scale of 1-10 on how comfortable they were with the cameras (10 being very comfortable) the average score was 9.4.

Colleagues were also given the chance to record comments in their feedback:

“I am so happy we now have cameras! I feel so much safer when involved in incidents. The incidents used to be several times a day and now we have the cameras, it’s reduced massively and I do believe it comes down to the cameras. If we have someone questionable come in, I’ve seen them notice the camera on me and leave.” The Works Colleague (in post-trial survey)

“The cameras are a massive deterrent to unsociable behaviour. I can’t think how we would cope without them." The Works Colleague (in post-trial survey)

To help with that colleague buy-in, Reveal set up face-to-face training in the five trial stores. David Pardoe comments on that experience:

“One of the most useful things for us was Reveal’s investment in face-to-face training – and they were patient and flexible with that.

At no point through this journey was there a time when I felt Reveal were trying to upsell to us. Quite the opposite – they advised us to have smaller types of docking stations in each store, which has been a real-time shift in terms of looking after our needs.

And when they led the training, you could see when they were explaining the technology even the most cynical colleagues were brought on board, so that was absolutely key to the success of the initiative.”

The Works are on course to formalising their proof-of-concept trial to embed Reveal body cameras and software in their people protection roadmap. David Pardoe summarises:

“Reveal have been awesome. The staff surveys; L&D materials; comms; the catch up meetings – just the whole approach. I've genuinely felt this wholly customer-centric attitude throughout the journey so it’s been absolutely fantastic.

They get the business needs, they get the challenges that our business faces, so that, at every turn, they're just coming up with suitable, proportionate solutions to satisfy our needs.”