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As Supply Chain Woes and Worker Burnout Rages in Retail, New Study from Zipline Finds 40% of Associates Report Worsening Mental Health

The study finds 64% of retail workers report an increase in verbally abusive customers while at the same time, only 48% of associates believe their manager cares about their mental health


Zipline, the leading operations platform for distributed teams, today released its 2022 Retail Associates Mental Health Report, a survey that examines the well-being of retail workers and the factors that affect their mental wellness. The report comes as companies are feeling the effects of labor shortages post-holidays and into the third year disrupted by the pandemic. 

Zipline’s Mental Health Report surveyed 512 retail workers to better understand the stressors and burdens they face, as well as what companies are doing - and can do - to improve the well-being of their employees. 

Key data from the report reveals: 

  • 48% of retail associates have considered quitting in the last year, up seven percentage points from Zipline’s 2021 Labor of Love Report findings in May 2021 
  • 48% believe their manager actively seeks to improve their mental well-being, while 45% believe their mental health is not a concern to their manager – a clear divide in how associates feel their managers view their mental health
  • 40% report worsening mental health in the last year 
  • 42% have cried due to the stress of work or customers
  • 64% have noticed an increase in verbally aggressive/confrontational customers since March 2020, and 48% have experienced or witnessed a verbally abusive customer
  • 48% report the largest source of workplace happiness came from their coworkers

Among the most impactful findings was the percentage of full-time employees with an additional income - 31%. Among that group, 44% held a position outside of the retail industry, 11% had another retail job, and 24% supplemented earnings via investments, including cryptocurrency. The number speaks to both the financial burden workers face as well as the limited leisure time available to rest and relax. 

The survey also exposed a darker side to what many consider the happiest time of year: the holidays. When asked if retail associates had work-related stress due to the holidays, 73% of retail workers said yes, with one-third of all respondents citing difficult customers as the primary stressor and nearly one-fifth attributing stress to long hours. 

Despite some of the alarming results of the survey, the findings also highlight successes within the industry. More than 45% of respondents shared that the company provides some form of mental health service already, including counseling/therapy, gym memberships or access to meditation apps. Meanwhile, 49% also report that they feel their company often recognizes their hard work. Another 48% share that they felt they fully had management’s support when a customer became verbally abusive. 

“It’s clear from the report that many retail associates are struggling during this turbulent time, but the data also helps to illuminate a path forward for retailers,” said Melissa Wong, CEO and Co-founder of Zipline. “From streamlining in-store communication to showing greater support and appreciation for already-stressed workers, there’s room for growth, and it’s promising to see that some companies are already taking steps to improve employee satisfaction.” 

To view Zipline’s complete findings, click here.


Zipline surveyed 512 full-time in-store retail associates and representatives in the U.S. to better understand how their jobs influence their mental well-being. The survey was fielded from November 29 to December 6, 2021.  

About Zipline
Zipline is the leading provider of execution solutions for brands with field locations. Proven to drive better business agility and employee engagement, brands that use Zipline experience a 130% increase in sales execution and millions of dollars in labor savings annually. The company has a Net Promoter Score of 78, and CB Insights ranked Zipline as one of the 100 most promising B2B retail tech companies in the world. Zipline is Great Place to Work-Certified for its employee engagement, culture, and healthy work-life balance, and was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. Today more than 65 brands like Rite Aid, Sephora, Gap Inc. and AEO Inc. depend on Zipline to align and empower their field teams worldwide.

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