Burnout is a huge problem in the Australian workplace. Over 60% of Aussies feel burnt out from working too much in 2022. While burnout affects people in any industry, retail workers are especially vulnerable to it.

Here’s a closer look at retail burnout and how to protect your staff from experiencing it.

What does burnout look like?

Burnout is exhaustion caused by excessive, ongoing stress. The fatigue caused by burnout isn’t just physical; it can also affect people’s minds and emotional states. Burnout sufferers often feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained. They may be unable to meet the constant demands of their job and may lose interest in doing good work when they are there.

There are many physical, mental, and emotional signs of burnout, such as:

  • Feeling constantly tired or drained
  • Frequent illness, headaches, or muscle pain
  • Changes to your sleep habits or appetite
  • Feeling helpless, defeated, or trapped
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lacking satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities or procrastinating
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Burnout is more than just stress. When people are stressed, they can imagine that things will get better once everything is under control. People suffering from burnout may simply stop caring about their job. They may feel used up and unable to experience any hope that things could change for the better.

Why do retail workers feel burnt out?

Retail sales is one industry where burnout is common. In a 2021 study of retail workers in Australia, the UK and the US, 63% of retail workers said that burnout was the number one reason for quitting their job.

So why are retail workers likely to feel burnt out? Here are a few reasons:

  • Retail jobs are demanding. Retail workers are often under intense pressure. They are responsible for keeping the shop stocked and clean, making sales goals, and handling customer complaints—all while keeping a smile on their face! Juggling these different demands is challenging at times, especially during public holidays and other busy periods.
  • Hard work doesn’t always get you ahead. In many industries, hard work can help you advance in the workplace. But in retail, hard work is often “rewarded” with longer hours and greater expectations.
  • Workers often feel unappreciated. Despite how demanding the job is, retail workers often go unrecognised by managers. Customers also fail to appreciate the hard work that retail staff put in so that they can shop in comfort.

In addition to those listed above, retail workers may also feel they are underpaid for the amount of work they do. Others say that poor management is a problem. Regardless, as the pressure continues to build, stress and displeasure are sure to follow.

How to protect your retail workers

As a retail business owner, part of your job is taking care of your employees’ wellbeing. Helping them avoid burnout is essential to fulfilling your duty of care, but it also helps keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.

Here are four ways to help you and your retail workers avoid burnout:

  • Take their concerns seriously. Employee concerns and complaints may be an early warning sign that burnout is coming. Listening to what your staff has to say and taking steps to better the situation could help you avoid bad outcomes. Offer uninterrupted time for employees to talk to you, both as a group and individually, and take their concerns to heart wherever possible.
  • Make safety a priority. Employee injuries and illnesses can greatly affect morale and lead to burnout. Consider creating a risk management plan with steps to help you and your staff avoid dangerous hazards and how to respond if they do happen.
  • Create realistic expectations. You may have big plans for your shop’s growth, but are your goals realistic? Is the work needed to reach them sustainable in the long term? If your expectations are leading to constant overtime and poor work-life balance, then burnout might not be far behind.
  • Show more appreciation. Thanking your employees for their hard work can go a long way! Simple perks like staff breakfasts, early releases, or a spa voucher could help your staff feel acknowledged and appreciated.

Protecting your retail business

Burnout is something that every retail business owner should be aware of. No matter the size of your staff (even if it’s just you!), stress and overwork could cause problems for your small business. Taking steps to alleviate burnout and prevent it entirely may help your retail business reach higher levels of success.

There’s no insurance policy for employee burnout, but there is insurance to help retailers protect other key areas of their small businesses.

Insurance for retailers (the different forms of coverage available to retail shop owners) helps shield you against the financial fallout caused by common claims and lawsuits. From accidents and injuries to broken glass and damaged stock, insurance for retailers gives you peace of mind so you can focus more energy on your employees’ wellbeing.

Compare insurance for retailers with Public Liability Australia and get instant coverage today!

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.