New HEAL Study: The workplace as a therapeutic landscape: Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of food hospitality employees
A team of researchers led by Alexandra Overvelde with Louise McEachern, Alexander Wray, and Jason Gilliland recently published an article entitled: “The workplace as a therapeutic landscape: Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of food hospitality employees.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prompted changes in everyday environments to prevent transmission of this illness. Notably, workplaces were transformed by these precautionary measures, interrupting people’s routine interactions at work. This study investigated the pandemic-related modifications to food hospitality businesses in Ontario, Canada and their effects on the health and wellbeing of workers.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 food hospitality employees in Ontario between June 2020 and May 2021 as part of the Food Retail Environment Study for Health and Economic Resiliency (FRESHER). Transcripts were analyzed inductively using grounded theory as a means of allowing themes to be distilled organically from this relatively new area of research.
Therapeutic landscapes emerged as a framework for the resultant themes. The three main themes in this analysis are compromised based on the physical, social, and symbolic spaces of a therapeutic landscape: physical aspects of food hospitality businesses as influencers of wellbeing, social relationships as sources of support and stress, and symbols of fear and safety within food hospitality workplaces.
Results indicate that, for food hospitality employees, the workplace was an imperfect therapeutic landscape with a mix of benefits and threats to wellbeing. Further study is needed to understand how these spaces might be reconstructed to better promote wellbeing.
Citation: Alexandra Overvelde, Louise McEachern, Alexander Wray, and Jason Gilliland. “The workplace as a therapeutic landscape: Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of food hospitality employees.” SSM-Qualitative Research in Health (2023); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmqr.2023.100334