Find out how BJSS’ innovative approach to data consolidation and reporting resulted in the creation of a ground-breaking retail happiness dashboard, powered by generative AI.

The Retail Trust's Health of Retail Report 2023 expressed the need for better visibility and proactive measures when it comes to employee wellbeing in retail. It found half of managers noticed an increase in absences due to mental health issues.

Some of the key issues identified in the Retail Trust’s Health of Retail Report included financial worries, rising levels of abuse from customers, and exhaustion. Some of these factors contributing to 18% of staff wanting to leave the retail industry. This presents a huge problem - how to maximise staff retention and avoid the issues of high turnover, including expenses and potential customer experience issues.

Founded in 1832, the Retail Trust's mission is to create hope, health and happiness for everyone in retail. The charity empowers retail colleagues with the tools, support and guidance to lead happier, healthier lives. Retail Trust works with more than 200 retailers to improve the wellbeing of their staff, offering financial, emotional, and practical aid to those in need. The main aim is to promote a healthier and more resilient retail community.

The recently launched Happiness Dashboard from the Retail Trust provides vital insights to help employers identify and aid retail employees navigating wellbeing difficulties. The dashboard also demonstrates the financial and social impact of employee wellbeing.

Challenge

Prior to the creation of the Happiness Dashboard, retailers lacked actionable insights into the wellbeing of their employees. BJSS began working with the Retail Trust in 2022. The goal was to investigate the data sources it held and discover if it was possible to provide retailers with actionable insights into employee wellbeing. This involved actively assessing their happiness and developing an actionable plan to support employees.

The Retail Trust found that 46% of managers reported one or more of their team had experienced a mental health issue that the manager didn’t feel equipped to deal with.

The Retail Trust holds a huge amount of data from different retailers, such as employee satisfaction survey results, alongside its own survey data and third-party data from services such as a virtual GP service. With many data sets, the Retail Trust wanted to use this information to provide retailers with more actionable insights into their employee wellbeing.

Ultimately, the Retail Trust wanted employers to be able to access the data in a visual format. It hoped this would make it easier for them to use the right services and content from the Retail Trust to foster greater wellbeing for their workforce. However, this held a few challenges: the data had to be aggregated and additionally, there were lots of data quality challenges with data cleansing, modelling and analysis needed.

Solution

The Retail Trust wanted a strong partner with the right skills to manage the project effectively and BJSS provided the technical expertise necessary to successfully execute this project.

Following creative ideation sessions with the Retail Trust, BJSS' data engineers and architects got the project under way. BJSS used consultants from SPARCK to ensure that design thinking was an integral part of the dashboard delivery. BJSS focused on creating a unified data repository by consolidating data from diverse sources into a data lake and delivering insights through a tailored dashboard.

Leveraging leading solutions from Microsoft Azure and Databricks, BJSS developed a fully automated insights system utilising Microsoft OpenAI. User-centricity guided every stage, from gathering retailer input to building the system and surfacing insights in the Retail Trust’s happiness dashboard.

Pivoting to leverage generative AI

The project initially began as a traditional data science project, back in early 2022. However, the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022 saw the project move in a different direction. The BJSS team understood the power that generative AI could bring and, taking an agile approach, performed a pivot on the original plan in order to incorporate generative AI.

BJSS utilised Azure OpenAI for trend analysis, actionable insights, and to suggest wellbeing action plans to be taken by retailers. Due to the inclusion of generative AI in the project, the BJSS team carried out continuous learning and testing throughout the entirety of the project. This also meant continuous upskilling of data scientists and software engineers as the emerging technology was incorporated.

Maximising the potential of Databricks

BJSS built the system using Databricks on Microsoft Azure. The extensive capabilities of Databricks were leveraged efficiently throughout the project.

A data lake was built in Databricks, allowing for the inclusion of survey and interaction data from retailers, retail colleagues and multiple other sources. This explored the full potential of what Databricks could achieve. The data platform (data lake) within Databricks provided the ability to carry out trend analysis and benchmarking. This data was then presented to retailers, allowing them to understand their own data and compare themselves against peer groups.

“BJSS' commitment to understanding our needs and challenges has been evident in their approach, resulting in a solution that exceeded our expectations."

Tim Walpole, Head of Product & Innovation, Retail Trust

Outcome

The launch of the Happiness Dashboard establishes Retail Trust as a trailblazer at the forefront of workplace wellbeing technology, empowered by BJSS’ data science, engineering, and design expertise.

In only 13 months, a fully generative AI-powered happiness dashboard was launched. The dashboard was built in collaboration with nine retail partners and enables retailers to gain clear insights into workforce wellbeing and employee interaction with support services. The dashboard also demonstrates the financial and social impact on their business, with the information and actionable insights enabling retailers to customise their approach to employee wellbeing.

Driving profitability through actionable data

Analysis by Deloitte, utilised by the Retail Trust for the happiness dashboard, estimates that mental ill health currently incurs costs of up to £56 billion annually for UK employers. However, investments in supporting employee well-being yield a £5.30 return for every £1 spent.

The dashboard measures the financial ramifications of implemented actions taken. This includes decreased absenteeism, increased presenteeism and reduced colleague churn rate, leading to lower contingency costs and enhanced profitability. And on a more human scale, it provides a visual representation of the positive impact on productivity stemming from the data and recommendations.

The dashboard provides insights into how various actions and initiatives impact key metrics related to workforce productivity and stability. By addressing these factors proactively, businesses can reduce costs, optimise performance, and drive higher profitability.

Proactive support for employees

Retailers can now spot any early indicators of employee dissatisfaction, or employees in need of support.

The team also added the metric of social return on investment based on government-backed analysis by Loop. Since the platform was built, the team was able to respond rapidly and add this important metric in a matter of just five days. This enhances and quantifies the understanding of the positive impact of various wellbeing measures and helps to explore the financial value of the outcomes of these measures.

For example, when the team provides a trauma specialist to support employers for incidents such as an armed robbery or a death of a colleague, based on a government backed methodology, the Retail Trust can demonstrate a clear value for these important services.

Through this preventative approach, there is a reduction in the reliance on NHS services when alternative services are offered via the Retail Trust. Data is generated based on the wider impact of the wellbeing of employees. By taking a proactive approach, cost savings to the NHS, as well as the impact on NHS resources, can be calculated.

The user-friendly Happiness Dashboard provides metrics on the number of colleagues supported, their health and happiness and the business impact in terms of numerical value. This aligns with the Retail Trust’s cause of creating hope, health and happiness for everyone in retail - providing insights into all three, based on real data.

Generating a plan of action for employers

Using generative AI, the dashboard also provides leaders with a customised action plan which encourages wellbeing strategies within the industry, based on the presented data. This plan includes suggested next steps and is presented in intuitive dashboards created by PowerBI.

The distinct abilities of this dashboard mean that not only the business impact of employee wellbeing is reported, but also the human impact. This opens conversations outside of just wellbeing or human resources teams, allowing leaders throughout retail organisations to have a clear overview on company-wide welfare.

BJSS inclusion on Microsoft Open AI accelerator programme

BJSS was one of only a small number of companies to be included on the Microsoft Open AI accelerator programme, a UK initiative that aims to support the adoption of innovative and fast-moving Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and solutions. This results from our track record of providing technology solutions across various industries and our data capabilities.

“Retail Trust is founded on one foundational principle - creating hope, health and happiness for everyone in retail. This is a noble ambition that I felt was epitomised in this project when the joint teams of Microsoft, BJSS and Retail Trust. The teams came together to utilise ground-breaking technology in revolutionary ways to pursue this ideal, helping Retail Trust fulfil their aims, but more importantly, making a tangible and marked impact on the wellbeing of retail workers, every day.”

Matthew Jones, Global Azure Specialist, Capital Markets & Banking, Microsoft

A huge effort from the Retail Trust and BJSS’ delivery team resulted in the release of the first-of-its-kind Happiness Dashboard powered by generative AI. The dashboard is poised to forever transform the way we gather wellbeing information and act on it to improve outcomes for retail workers.