Employees eat at least one meal per day in the workplace on a regular basis, carrying implications for their physical and emotional well-being. For migrants, this can be challenging, owing to food culture differences. This study explores migrant workers’ perceptions of the food eaten in the hospitality workplace.Design/methodology/approachEleven in-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were carried out with migrant workers in three- and four-star hotels in the southwest of England.FindingsThe findings show that the food eaten in the workplace is perceived as unhealthy and fattening and therefore unappealing. This partly informs a decision to eat home country food away from work.Research limitations/implicationsFurther research is needed across many more organisations to investigate whether this would actually have the positive impact on employee well-being (migrant or home national) and employer reputation.Practical implicationsProviding additional “off-menu” meals for migrant employees is recognised. However, staff turnover within the hotel environment may mean that dishes acceptable to one nationality may not be acceptable to another. Alternatively, it may be that attention to such details and the provision of a food offering that is seen as fit for purpose by staff may reduce turnover and demonstrate “care” on the part of the employer. An annual staff survey could be conducted to gauge employee opinion.Social implicationsThis study helps to show the significance of food for migrant well-being. It highlights that in increasingly globalised workplaces, food provision is important for both emotional and physical health. The study's findings have relevance to other multicultural workplaces where the food provided to staff may have consequences for employee well-being.Originality/valueLittle research has focused on the link between the food consumed in the hospitality workplace and migrant worker well-being. This study therefore makes an important contribution to knowledge by exploring feelings about the food eaten at work from the perspective of migrant workers themselves.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 14, 2020
Keywords: Workplace eating; Wellbeing; Migrant workers; Unhealthy; Fattening; Ethnic cuisine
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