A case study in reducing assaults on retail staff by managing risks, training discipline and facilitation of behavioural change.

As a result of Maybo’s work with a major national retailer to reduce assaults on staff, specifically in relation to confronting and detaining suspected shoplifters:    

  • Assaults reduced by over 50%
  • Theft decreased   
  • Restraints are no longer used in the majority of stores
  • Staff responded that the training was excellent and relevant to their role and the business
Reviewing the Risks 

To identify the risks faced by staff a comprehensive review of the nature and extent of violence risks was carried out. This highlighted the common conflict flashpoints:

  • Refunds   
  • Detention of suspected shoplifters   
  • Queuing     
  • Poor service
What We Set Out to Achieve

To manage the identified risks and meet the challenge of changing attitudes and workplace behaviours, the central Health and Safety, Human Resources and Loss Prevention departments were involved as well as managers and staff in all Retail Stores. The aims of the training and other measures were to:  

  • Equip staff with knowledge and skills to prevent and manage confrontations safely     
  • Reduce assaults on staff by providing them with alternatives to arrest     
  • Minimise the risks of harm to staff and suspects by reducing use of restraint and providing safer methods

The actions agreed to achieve the aims were the:

  • Development and communication of guidelines on when arrests could be made     
  • Education of staff on alternative approaches to avoid confrontation including effective ways to deter thieves  
  • Adjustment of performance indicators moving to attaching increased value to safe behaviours and moving away from ‘arrest figures’  
  • Design and delivery of blended training including bespoke eLearning and role specific courses
  • Communication of objectives and store management ‘buy-in’ through a series of regional workshops
How Training Was Implemented

The level of conflict risk that staff are exposed to is affected by their working role and environment. To meet the needs of staff throughout the organisation a number of methods were used to realise the objectives. Personal safety guidance was included in general staff inductions to give all staff a basic awareness and understanding of the situations that might occur and how they would be expected to respond. The company intranet and regional workshops were used to communicate the new guidelines on arrests to loss prevention teams and store managers. Staff working in the higher risk security, loss prevention and store sales manager roles that are required to deal with an escalation of conflict attended training courses.

The training combined a bespoke eLearning programme and practical courses covering how to assess, defuse and manage conflict and aggression, plus skills to avoid and disengage from a physical assault. Certain larger store teams ‘permitted to detain’ received additional training and supporting knowledge in safer holding techniques.

The initial review of policy, risks and current practices identified key conflict scenarios which were used as learning vehicles central to communicating expectations of staff in foreseeable situations.

Training was delivered using a mix of trainer training, where Maybo trained internal trainers from within Loss Prevention to deliver the core programme to the store teams, and direct delivery from Maybo for the higher level training.  

The Longer Term Benefits

Maybo’s comprehensive training initiative provided workable solutions to successfully manage violence risks and areas of behavioural safety that were proving costly in terms of staff injuries. Our client resisted the temptation to provide more training as a ‘sticky plaster’ response to assaults and with Maybo’s expertise and assistance, decision makers in the organisation established root causes and united key stakeholders and subject specialists to create a strategic response to the problem. The new considered and less adversarial approach to conflict situations reduces risk for customers as well as staff and builds upon positive communication and customer service skills. Operational staff who have delivered training receive extensive personal development and the organisation gains expertise in-house.

Key Steps to Success

  • Clearly identify the risks and root causes of violent incidents
  • Achieve ‘buy in’ from stakeholders and senior managers within the organisation
  • Target the training and make it relevant to staff in terms of level and situation
  • Monitor progress and review results






Posted by Maybo on March 20, 2014



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