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NRF offers training to help retail employees work safely amid pandemic

The National Retail Federation launched two efforts to help frontline retail employees keep working and serve customers safely.

The NRF Foundation is offering two new credentials in its Rise Up program in response to the pandemic. The credentials focus on “Retail Operations” and “Customer Conflict Prevention” to further ensure retail workers — and the millions of customers they serve — can work and shop more safely and help keep the economy open. 

“Retailers have been on the front lines of this pandemic as economic first responders and are going above and beyond to maintaining a safe work environment for themselves, their colleagues and their customers,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “An informed workforce will build customer confidence and show local and state governments that retailers are taking all steps possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” 

While major retailers began implementing training for employees at the outset of the pandemic, the NRF Foundation’s new trainings have streamlined these best practices from retailers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a more comprehensive training for the entire industry. Both programs are targeted toward front-line retail employees of small and mid-size businesses that do not have learning and development teams.

Made possible by American Express, the COVID-19 Retail Operations credential will train customer-facing retail workers, distribution center workers and job seekers to help safely operate during the pandemic. Designed to assist retailers meet state and local requirements for COVID-19 trainings, the course helps educate employees to recognize COVID-19 symptoms, take appropriate actions if exposed and understand CDC best health practices and tools used in retail.

In addition, the NRF Foundation partnered with the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), a global leader in verbal de-escalation trainings, to create the COVID-19 Customer Conflict Prevention credential. Developed specifically for customer-facing retail workers and job seekers, the program focuses on how to help avoid and de-escalate conflict. 

The training is specific to retail’s unique challenges, including mask requirements for customers, customer-to-customer conflicts and line management. It will help equip employees with the skills they need to better manage and resolve customer conflicts, especially during the busy holiday season.  

“COVID-19 anxiety continues to rise in businesses and elsewhere across the United States,” said Susan Driscoll, president of CPI. “Overall tensions are a frequent concern for essential workers who are faced with activating and managing mask mandates, while also trying to keep the peace among customers.


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