Alexandra Overvelde Successfully Defends her MA Thesis

The HEAL would like to congratulate Alexandra Overvelde who successfully defended their thesis under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland in July 2023.

Food Retail Environment Study for Health & Economic Resiliency (FRESHER)

Alexandra Overvelde successfully defended her MA thesis titled Investigating the Effects of Pandemic Related Workplace Changes on the Wellbeing of Ontario’s Food Hospitality and Food Retail Employees. Alexandra completed her Master of Arts in Geography and Environment under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland. During her studies, Alexandra explored how COVID-19 transformed food hospitality and food retail businesses in Ontario and investigated how these changes altered employee wellbeing.

The experiences of 39 staff members across these two industries were collected via semi-structured interviews that took place between June 2020 and May 2021. Grounded theory analysis was used to explore this dataset and a distinct theoretical frame emerged for the food retail and food hospitality industries respectively.

Results demonstrate that for food hospitality employees their workplaces provided a combination of benefits and threats to wellbeing. In contrast, food retail employees emphasized the imbalance that existed between their perceived efforts and rewards. Future studies should consider investigating how these workplaces might be adapted to better support employee wellbeing.

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