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Grocery workers suffer mental health effects of customer hostility

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28.11.2021

With the holiday season here, consumers are understandably desperate for a “normal” holiday season. For many, that includes big family dinners and shopping sprees.

Retail and service sector workers have been laboring to keep shelves stocked and customers happy from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life on the front lines has been exceptionally stressful for these employees. Suddenly, they found themselves identified as “essential workers,” providing critical services while working in close contact with customers and coworkers. But unlike health care workers, grocery store employees had no prior experience or training in combating infectious diseases.

Early in the pandemic, the public celebrated grocery workers. They were hailed as “heroes” who were risking their lives for the benefit of their local communities. Billboards and the nightly news reminded the public to show kindness and compassion to store workers.

Major grocery chains initially offered their employees a “"hero bonus,” but that quickly went away. Many grocery workers soon felt forgotten as businesses and customers adjusted to the new normal.

We are a team of researchers from the University of Arizona with expertise in worker health, retail marketing, human development and public health. We have been following the impacts of the pandemic on grocery workers across the state of Arizona.

Our research and that of others show that rates of mental health distress among grocery workers are very high. In a newly published study, we reported that 20% of employees working in Arizona grocery stores in the summer of 2020 exhibited signs of severe anxiety and depression. And the mental health struggles of these workers do not show much improvement since we began our research in summer 2020.

Anxiety, depression and stress

By the........

© Japan Today


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