Emotional Labor in the Workplace Organizational Behavior Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Emotional Labor in the Workplace

Organizational Behavior

Emotional labor is a concept whose origin can be traced back to 1983 and is commonly used to describe activities that service employees undertake beyond their physical and moral responsibilities. Some of the most common ways that these workers display emotional labor include demonstrating a genuine and huge concern for the needs of customers, making positive eye contact, and maintaining a positive bodily and facial expression. These activities are referred to as emotional labor because they are necessary factors to the success of service workers in their respective duties and fields. Therefore, emotional labor has emerged as an important concept in the modern workplace because of its significance and applicability in several areas of business. It's extremely important for service-oriented workplaces to focus on emotional labor because of its role in promoting success of workers.

Emotional Labor -- Psychological Stress in the Workplace:

Based on an analysis of the different descriptions of emotional labor, this concept can be described as a means of controlling one's feelings in order to create a noticeable demonstration of bodily and facial expression to the public. As an important concept in the modern workplace, emotional labor is an approach to feelings that provides a distinctive model of viewing work responsibilities and duties (Hocschild, 2008). Employees tend to experience different feelings such as sadness, envy, joy, and elation regardless of their respective business areas or working environments. This concept provides them with a mechanism for managing the feelings in order to achieve success in their respective job duties. Actually, without effective management of feelings, employees like service-oriented workers are likely to fail in their duties. This concept promotes success by enabling workers to not only control their feelings but also attempt to create the right feeling for their work.

Therefore, emotional labor can be regarded as subjective effort and ability that employees must be involved while conducting their job duties (Battistina, 2013). When workers engage in emotional labor, they achieve success through controlling their feelings in order to accomplish organizational goals and expectations. In most cases, the practice of this concept either involves expressing positive feelings only or managing or concealing negative feelings while working ("Emotional Labor," n.d.). Since dealing with negative feelings is not an easy process, employees tend to show feelings they don't really experience, hide their actual emotions, or develop a suitable feeling for the specific situation.

There are two major techniques used in emotional labor to control an individual's feelings i.e. surface acting and deep acting. Surface acting is described as faking or pretending to have an emotion through twisted verbal communication and non-natural body language. On the contrary, deep acting is control of one's internal emotions and directing them towards a certain desired direction. This technique is different from surface acting since it does not involve pretense, but convincing oneself against experiencing a negative response.


As discussed earlier, this is a vital concept in the modern workplace because of its significance and role in achieving success across different work settings, especially service-oriented business areas ("Defining Emotional Labor," n.d.). In the traditional work settings, emotional labor was considered as a characteristic of certain occupations and professions like nursing, hospital employees, counselors, and restaurant workers. Today's workplace settings no longer view the concept as a requirement for roles in certain occupations but as a necessity for interpersonal job demands across various occupations. As a result, it's currently applied in nearly every work setting in order to achieve organizational expectations and objectives.

The use of this concept in different work settings is because it goes beyond mere obligation to comply with organizational rules and processes. It requires workers to change their personality into an organizational-approved one, which may sometimes be very dissimilar to their normal disposition. The need for altering one's personality is because emotional labor is not only directed towards customers but towards the workplace setting itself. Emotional labor is expressed or directed towards the employers, supervisors, co-workers, and customers.

In attempts to understand the role and significance of emotional labor in various work settings, I conducted interviews of employees in different work settings. The survey involved interviewing at least two people from each working environment by making contacts through individuals known to me. To enhance the findings of the interview process, the surveys were completed in person rather than requesting subjects to fill out the forms or questionnaires. The interviews were conducted in different work settings including & #8230;


The first survey was conducted among hotel employees given that hotels have become a major source of business for entrepreneurs and organizations. The hotel industry is an extreme customer orientation environment that employees should comply with regardless of their position in the organization. The two respondents in the interview expressed a high rate of job satisfaction of 8 on the scale of 1 to 10. Their high rate of job satisfaction was attributed to their satisfaction with their current workplace environment.

The first respondent reported a 7 point satisfaction with his current work setting because the hotel has provided him with the necessary opportunities, resources, and time to meet customer demands. The main reason for his high job satisfaction was a comfortable work schedule that not only addresses his work obligations but also addresses his basic needs. The second respondent did not disclose the reasons leading to his job satisfaction in the current working environment but only stated a rate of 8.

The respondents reported the high emotional expectations from their work duties because the hotel industry is an extremely customer oriented business. They reported being notified by their employees that management of their feelings is extremely important in delivery of quality service. These employees are not only required but also expected to manage their feelings in order to ensure delivery of good service to customers. One of the most important ways for these employees to control their feelings is to maintain personal contact when serving customers. Secondly, they are required to smile in all situations despite the customer's moods, attitudes, and response to their service.

These hotel workers also reported feelings of stress in certain situations because of the demanding nature of their work. The stress contributes to feelings of fatigue and frustration, especially when dealing with customers with negative attitudes. These stressful conditions are also fueled by the requirement to pretend or suppress their actual feelings when having different feelings. The second respondent gave an example of this scenario when he was required to be polite, forcefully smile, and welcome guests he did not like.

Fast-food Workers:

The second working environment where the interviews were conducted is in the fast-food industry where Employee A and Employee B. were interviewed. Similar to the hotel industry, the fast-food industry is a highly-demanding workplace because of the huge numbers of customers served on a daily basis. These employees reported that their outlets serve a minimum of 200 customers on a daily basis, which contributes to feelings of fatigue because of the nature of the job duties.

Despite of the vulnerability to feelings of fatigue, both employees expressed their satisfaction with the job and current working environment. They stated that they enjoy serving people and their jobs give them an opportunity to interact with many customers albeit for a few minutes. Their high job satisfaction that was rated at 7 over 10 is mainly attributed to their desires and passion of serving people to meet their specific needs. They loved their current working environment because of the huge number of customers who visit daily and the opportunity it gives them to interact with them.

As part of customer service, Employee A stated that he is required to present himself to clients in a polite and welcoming manner. To provide this warmth and comforting environment, Employee A is required to smile at all times and approach clients in a caring manner regardless of his actual feelings. Employee B. states that she is required and expected to provide clients with a comforting environment where they can enjoy their food while relaxing. This is achieved through demonstrating concern about the customer's life by asking questions like "How are you?" Is everything okay?" She also stated that the fast-food chain has a code of conduct that the employees have to go through daily before commencing their respective work duties.

The two employees reported feeling frustrated and irritable when facing a situation that provokes them to anger and dissatisfaction. Such incidents tend to occur when they are attending to ungrateful customers or when accused of incompetence by their employers or coworkers. Sometimes, these employees are required to work for long hours while maintaining enthusiasm, passion, and energy, which may not be their actual feelings and lead to stress.

Social Workers:

Three social workers i.e. Employee X, Employee Y, and Employee Z. were interviewed in this process of identifying emotional labor. Employee X, Y, and Z. reported 9, 8, and 9 job satisfaction respectively and an 10 over 10 satisfaction with current…

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