November 27, 2015

Black Friday and your staff

Black Friday and your staff


Black Friday is upon us – the time of year where all sorts of products are offered at massively reduced prices and just in time for Christmas. We all saw the TV footage last year of the deluge of customers queuing well ahead of opening time, hoping desperately to pick up a bargain. Black Friday isn’t like the Boxing Day sales that offer old stock at discounted prices, but instead new stock is ordered making the desire to shop for those all-important Christmas presents even more imperative.


However what we also all saw last year was the aggression demonstrated by customers not only towards each other but to employees as well. Did any of your staff complain about how they had been treated by customers? Did you know how to deal with it?


Whether it be one off incidents on occasions like Black Friday or an ongoing basis, if your staff feel that they are being harassed by the business’s clients, suppliers or visitors what is it that a responsible employer needs to do?


Within the Equality Act 2010 there used to be a provision for managing what was called Third Party Harassment, this was where employers were obliged on a three strike basis to deal with employees who complained about someone who was associated with the company harassing them. However this was repealed on the 1st October 2013 as the statistics showed that very few employment tribunal claims were raised for this matter, and the government felt it was unfair to expect an employer to manage this form of harassment when they had little or no control over it happening in the first instance.


However, apart from harassment in relation to a protected characteristic, even if there isn’t any specific law that you are obliged to follow would you want your staff to feel upset and distressed because they have been exposed to as an example a rude or aggressive customer?


If an employee comes to you and complains about being mistreated by a customer / visitor / supplier, then you should take these claims very seriously. Sit with the employee and ask them what has happened, reassuring them that you will look into the matter further.


Once you have made further investigations and found out the facts of the case, then you can make your decision as to how to deal with it. Now I’m not saying it is going to be easy, as you may have to make a decision about whether you are going to deal with that specific person again, which could result in a loss of a client and the associated revenue.


It may well be that even if you can’t do anything about a difficult customer, for example they don’t come into your shop again; isn’t it a responsible action to take to show your staff that you take their welfare seriously? Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and if you are told by a member of your team that an incident has happened, or even a series of incidents, then you should look into the matter further – this in turn promotes loyalty in your employees and a sense of team.

HR Heroes