Retail Drinks has announced a new partnership with workplace wellbeing company Luemo, which will expand the existing service offering for members through enhanced mental health resources.

The partnership aligns with a commitment to the expansion of member services, which was recently identified in the Retail Drinks new three year strategic plan. CEO Michael Waters said the enhancement of existing wellbeing tools was an important part of this expansion plan, particularly after the events of 2020, which saw a steady increase in calls to the Member Hotline about mental health and wellbeing matters.

“Whilst recognition of the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has no doubt come leaps and bounds over the past few years, we still think that there is room for improvement, particularly in the retail liquor sector and we want our members to know that we are here to service and support them,” Waters said.

“We are extremely proud and excited to have now officially launched our partnership with Luemo. As a national industry association representing the needs and interests of the entire retail liquor sector and all liquor retailers, we have a strong role to play in educating our members as to the importance of many aspects of running a successful business and retailing responsibly, and this includes mental health and wellbeing and the practical steps that they can take to look after their own and their staff’s mental health.

“We hope that through this partnership we will be able to inspire changes across the industry leading to better mental health outcomes across the board.”

In addition to the existing mental health tools offered by Retail Drinks, members can now access a range of Luemo’s resources for free through the new partnership. Such resources support awareness and education around workplace wellbeing, and members can also subscribe to the Luemo portal to share them with their whole workforce.

Waters encouraged all members, regardless of their circumstances, to take advantage of the partnership and what it can offer. This will also be showcased at the upcoming Retail Drinks Liquor Retail Summit next month, where Luemo has been invited to deliver a keynote presentation.

Margaret Aboody, Director at Luemo, said the partnership with Retail Drinks will help members embed a good mental health and wellbeing culture into their workplaces, making them able to enjoy the advantages of a healthy workforce.

Aboody gave some background on Luemo and how it works with businesses in this way and told National Liquor News: “There are some key themes we see when business leaders come to us for help in the area of workplace mental health and wellbeing.

“Firstly, business leaders want to grow corporate knowledge and confidence about mental health in order to manage business risk and meet obligations. Secondly, smart businesses know that healthy and engaged employees are productive employees and these businesses value a wellbeing strategy as a way of connecting their workplace and improving productivity. Thirdly, businesses want to show their employees how to take responsibility for their own personal wellbeing and how they can support one another – these businesses know that a proactive strategy to build resilient individuals and teams leads to a more resilient workplace.”


Mental health in liquor retail

Speaking about the partnership, both Waters and Aboody identified some key reasons that liquor retailers in particular should keep mental health and wellbeing front of mind.

Waters said: “Being a business owner or manager can present many unique challenges. Whether it’s working alone, financial pressures, staffing issues, long work hours or just the grind of day to day life – looking after yourself is not often a top priority. Paying bills, ordering product, managing employees and often family will take your attention away from you.

“Being aware of your own wellbeing, both physical and mental not only makes good sense personally, but it is fundamental to the success of your business. A liquor store can be a highly stressful workplace for employees, particularly with issues such as customer aggression and even violence directed towards them, which is completely unacceptable but we know is on the increase.”

Aboody added that “workplaces do not exist in a vacuum” and each employee may be dealing with differing circumstances. Some may bring external distress into the workplace from their personal lives, while for others, the workplace may be a source of mental health problems.

This is why Aboody says it makes sense to use the workplace as a space for wellbeing education and support, especially considering how much time is spent there amongst colleagues.

“There is a great opportunity for liquor retailers to become wellbeing workplaces to support employees and reap the rewards of a resilient workforce. There definitely needs to be more talk about mental health and wellbeing to raise awareness and normalise the issues – this is one of the simplest things that a workplace can do,” Aboody said.

“Awareness and normalisation reduces stigma and increases help seeking behaviour, which are some of the key ways to address better mental health in our workplaces, homes and community.”

Waters stressed the importance of this message, and urged all members to be: “taking care of their own and their employees’ mental health and well-being as a priority rather than a secondary issue.

“You simply cannot afford to ignore mental health and wellbeing and not being proactive about this issue will lead to bigger problems down the track.”

According to Aboody, taking this approach is extremely relevant for the wider off-premise liquor industry.

“Liquor retailers have a prominent and strong position in our community and are doing a good job promoting responsible alcohol consumption. The mental health and wellbeing message is complimentary to that agenda and liquor retailers have an incredibly positive opportunity to position themselves as responsible wellbeing workplaces and have a positive impact,” she said.

You can find more about mental health and wellbeing resources, as well as information about the upcoming Liquor Retail Summit, via Retail Drinks.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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