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Research shows rising concern in customer-facing businesses including pharmacies due to staff intimidation and abuse

By Irish Pharmacist - 02nd Dec 2023

Recently released research reveals a growing concern among customer-facing businesses such as pharmacies about the impact of criminal activity on staff. A total of 64 per cent of those surveyed were victims of crime in the past year and 24 per cent cited staff intimidation or abuse as the most common form of criminal activity they had experienced.

The research, conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Netwatch Security, also shows that criminal activity had profound psychological and physical effects on staff members of the businesses affected, and was more prevalent in customer-facing sectors including health and social care, retail, forecourt, hardware, wholesale and hospitality:

Fear and stress among employees were the leading concern of businesses asked about the impact of criminal activity was 35 per cent in customer-facing sectors vs. 30 per cent national average;

A total of 30 per cent experienced a loss of staff or a need for leaves of absence due to criminal activity in customer-facing sectors, versus 23 per cent national average across all sectors;

There was a higher incidence of physical injuries in customer-facing sectors at 18 per cent versus 13 per cent.

Looking to the future, staff intimidation or abuse is the most concerning form of criminal activity mentioned by 56 per cent of businesses in customer-facing sectors such as pharmacies, 19 per cent higher than the national average across all sectors. This is the first time that staff intimidation or abuse has appeared in the Netwatch research and is a significant concern for organisations, particularly those with over 50 employees, where 42 per cent of the cohort cited the issue.

In total 255 completed interviews were conducted with decision-makers across a wide range of organisations countrywide from 24 May to 21 June 2023.

Leisha McGrath, a work and occupational psychologist who reviewed the report, said: “The personal and psychological safety of employees should always be of concern for employers, especially where there is any risk of criminal activity or socially undesirable behaviour directed at them. There is a direct correlation between an organisation actively ensuring a culture of safety and support, and its ability to attract, engage and retain staff. Nobody should ever feel unsafe at work. Safe and supported employees are more productive, and are more likely to stay with the organisation, and to speak positively about their employer outside of work.”

Colin Hayes, Netwatch managing director for Ireland and UK, said: “This year’s report highlights an upward trend in business attitudes towards security, with a marked increase in those who perceive security an essential or high business priority. In this year’s survey, crime is reported to be costing business over €30,000 but the unseen, human impact is becoming evident through staff absence and loss of staff due to negative events. That customer-facing businesses such as pharmacies are taking supporting staff seriously, is a positive step for Irish business.”

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