The project team is conducting a randomized control trial (RCT) among people working in low-wage, precarious retail jobs to evaluate the impact of a new form of online organizing – facilitated discussion groups – on physical and emotional well-being, as well as health-related workplace engagement. Using a customized version of the mobile app WorkIt, developed as a resource for low-wage workers by the non-profit organization United for Respect, the researchers will test the relative effect of a facilitated discussion group compared to an online group that receives health-related information only.
- What is the effect of participation in an online, work-focused group with relational facilitation on a group member’s physical and emotional well-being?
- What is the effect of exposure to an online, work-focused group with relational facilitation on a group member’s propensity to become involved in collective action related to health?
- What is the effect of exposure to different experimental conditions on the size and density of participants’ conversation networks?
- What is the relationship between the size and density of people’s conversation networks and people’s physical and emotional well-being?
- What are the effects of relational facilitation on solidarity and generalized altruism?
- What is the relationship between feelings of group-level solidarity or generalized altruism, on the one hand, and individual-level well-being?
- What is the relationship between group-level solidarity and propensity for involvement in collective action?
- Build a culture of health by fostering shared values and improving health outcomes among a vulnerable population by providing information on the values and possible drawbacks of forming an online community.
Health & well-being: self-reported physical wellbeing; sleep (amount and quality); exercise (steps per day); psychological distress
Other: Sense of community; collective efficacy (participation in online petitions, filing complaints with an employer, reaching out to coworkers about work-related health issues); feelings of solidarity; generalized altruism
The researchers are using a randomized control trial (RCT) design, in which participants are randomly assigned to one online community of 200 participants each (accessed through a customized app), where each online community is in one of two experimental conditions: a relational facilitation condition or an information only condition. The researchers are complementing this with a mixed-methods observational study of the workplace discussion groups to explore relations between physical and emotional wellbeing and a) levels of online participation; b) changes in language use; and c) network positions in the discussion group.