During the process of reopening campus in Fall 2020, University of Arizona researchers will study the physical and mental health of our own frontline workers such as UArizona facilities and custodial staff to better understand the challenges they face and to build workforce resilience. The internal “Frontline Worker Resilience Study” is funded by the Office of Research, Innovation, and Impact (RII).
While much of the University of Arizona campus workforce rapidly transitioned to remote work, many UArizona employees have had to maintain an active, in-person presence to provide disinfection services and maintain critical operations. Reopening campus in Fall 2020 will require an expansion of this frontline workforce, including facilities and custodial personnel, food service workers, parking and transportation employees, and more. These individuals are being asked to work under uncertain conditions that could lead to negative physical and mental health outcomes. The success of UArizona’s reopening plans relies on a robust commitment from frontline workers across all campus divisions, and support for this workforce is vital. Funded by RII, the project team for the “Frontline Worker Resilience Study” will work collaboratively to understand the perceptions and concerns of these valued members of our campus community. Based on those surveys, the team will recommend strategies to support frontline workers at the UArizona.
Mona Arora, PhD, MSPH of the Zuckerman College of Public Health is the principal investigator (PI) of this study and Brian Mayer, PhD of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is the co-PI. The research team also includes Melissa Barnett of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Family Studies and Human Development and Sabrina Helm of CALS Retail & Consumer Sciences. The study will be conducted in collaboration with Life & Work Connections (LWC) and the Chief Wellness Officer. The same group of researchers has also implemented a separate project, looking at the impacts, risk perceptions, and concerns of frontline workers in the broader AZ community.
Dr. Mona Arora says, “We are living in an environment where there is a constant fear and risk of COVID-19, but jobs where workers consistently interact with others can increase stress and anxiety. Our project hopes to understand how we can best protect and support our frontline workers.”
Brian Mayer, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Sociology at the University of Arizona. His research interests focus on individual and community resilience after disaster and the role of social capital in facilitating disaster recovery. He has conducted quantitative and qualitative research projects using community-based participatory research strategies to understand the processes linked to disaster recovery after the BP Oil Spill and Hurricane Sandy.