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Why Calling Your Workers Heroes Can Backfire

At the height of pandemic-era lockdowns, the term “hero” was used to describe full-time workers including frontline health workers, bus drivers, supermarket cashiers, and other workers who had to appear at work in-person. In 2020, Instacart launched a “Household Heroes” campaign to recruit 300,000 workers to the platform. While moralizing work like this might seem to have benefits for workers and the company, interviews with Instacart workers shed light on the mixed feelings many workers held about the label. The authors share these findings on how the label might backfire and identify three groups from the interviews: Skippers, Stallers, and Strugglers.

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