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Emotional Labor in Workplaces

Loraine Aybar

CUNY School of Professional Studies

HRL 210- Interpersonal & Group Communication

Prof. Beth Rosen

December 13,2018

Emotional Labor in Workplaces

 In life, certain experiences usually define the emotional reaction towards them. This usually happens in general and may be triggered by the field that one is in. Emotions do occur from time to time, and it may be difficult to describe what a person feels or how they react to something, just by looks. However, are situations where individuals are forced to act in a manner that describes a particular act, such as showing a smiling face to show happiness, to remain in the line of work. This condition is generally referred to as emotional labor and is mostly seen in services centers, such as in flight, banking, and clinical services centers.

Presumably, emotions are regarded as a feeling that can be used for profit realization. In The Managed Heart, the author dictates of two different cases where employees are compared, and conclusions drawn on the type of output that one has, in regards to their job roles. The first listing entails a factory boy, whose main role includes making wallpapers. On the other hand, the author introduces a flight attendant, whose main role was to ensure that clients were served appropriately and that they had retained the satisfaction level in the company (Hochschild, 2012).

There is a discussion that The Managed Heart places on emotional labor, especially in workplaces. Ability and content are some useful aspects that most professions require, but in the service industry, the aspect of emotions comes in. Emotional labor, therefore, could be defined as the process by which employees manage to control their emotions, such as smiles and anger, which helps them in fulfilling the core emotional requirements that the job specifies. It is most common in service industries, such as the front office field, flight attendants, as well as other professions that generally deal with physical clients on a first-hand basis.

The core reason as to why this topic is worth mentioning is the desirable benefits that companies enjoy, as well as the transformations that each employee undergoes to suit the job requirement. Additionally, we are in an era where working with people has been considered as a skill, and therefore need to identify and be able to conform to each requirements. It is also worth mentioning of the negative effects that these individuals are placed in, considering the transformation that one needs to have, to suit the needs of the business, as well as the clients being served.

In business, marketing and technological advancements act as one of the key tools that each company has to adhere to, and allow any innovations to be implemented, which boosts the competitive nature of the business. This, in addition to the mindfulness and the emotional labor of the employees, ensures business success. In trying to explore the benefits of these two aspects in business, Wang et al. did an exploration of the service center and concentrated more on the impact that emotional labor and mindfulness created in the workplace (Wang, Berthon, Pitt, & McCarthy, 2016).

 The analysis was aimed at proving how the emotional labor aspect could lead to changes, where individuals could be forced to shift from a surface acting to a deep acting aspect, which could later affect their social lives. Wang further engaged managers and members of staff, enquiring how the two aspects could make a difference in the industry, and still be in a position to retain the emotions of individuals. The study was concluded by engaging and sharing ideas on how emotional labor and mindfulness could be handled, at the interest of both parties, which included a close analysis on how clients and the workforce interacted (Wang et al., 2016).

In a similar analysis conducted by Junting et al., emotional labor was handled, and emphasis was put on the aspect of leadership. This was majorly done to see the impact that leadership and management had on the workforce, and how it significantly influenced the interactions between teams. The study did a cross-examination of how leadership influenced the employees’ emotional labor. Random sampling was done on employees in a food company in China, and an analysis done deduced that servant leadership had a negative reaction on how employees responded to clients, by the use of bodily movements and facial expressions. However, the same aspect of business did have a positive relationship on how the employees regulated their inner emotions, during work time. The research was mainly based on the effect of leadership on emotional labor, and findings deduced that in general, emotional labor was highly influenced by the servant leadership, and could vary based on the role that an individual had in the company (Lu, Zhang, & Jia, 2018).

While researching on the interdependence between emotional intelligence and personal selection in most workplaces, Sarah et al. conducted research that was aimed at establishing whether emotional intelligence played a role in the selection process of flight attendants in a certain hiring process. In the research, group exercises were used to determine whether the applicant could regulate and control their emotions, and this further determined the probability that each had towards the selection process. While the process was based on single and group duties, the analysis deduced that single duties had a huge impact on the performance of an individual, which further showed that the effect on performance was dependent on task type. The analysis ended up concluding that the aspect of emotional ability was important in businesses and that it was crucial for companies hiring to impact the ability, which would determine how selection occurred (Herpertz, Nizielski, Hock, & Schütz, 2016).

This research has brought about a clear aspect of the service industry, and how performance is evaluated, especially in places where the output cannot be quantified. Generally, the service industry mostly relies on its employees to interact with the clients, and later bring about profit in the business. However, it is usually difficult to determine how the employee performance is, unless by inspecting the employees on a personal level, which could have a negative impact on the management-employee relations.

 Through this research, it has been made clear on the role that the management and leadership play in influencing emotional labor in a workplace. It is worth noting that the objectives and roles set by leaders greatly influence the actions of the employees, especially in the service sector. This then forces them to adapt to the requirements, and shift their emotions, to suit the needs of the clients. The effect that is created after that is worth noting, although most leaders end up ignoring the impact created on the employee.

Emotional labor has had a massive impact on individuals in the service and healthcare sectors. As they perform their roles in the workplace, they are forced to shift and adapt to the environment, which involves being energetic, swift and friendly, as well as showing a frequent smile. However, the state that these individuals are placed in creates a gap, which is brought about by their inner feelings, compared to the adapted feelings, which include facial expressions. It would, therefore, be rational, for companies to consider the impact that emotional labor has towards the employees, and devise ways under which this could be controlled, which at the end ensures that each party is fully satisfied in what they are doing.



 Herpertz, S., Nizielski, S., Hock, M., & Schütz, A. (2016). The relevance of emotional intelligence in personnel selection for high emotional labor jobs. PloS One, 11(4), e0154432.

Hochschild, A. R. (2012). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Univ of California Press.

Lu, J., Zhang, Z., & Jia, M. (2018). Does Servant Leadership Affect Employees’ Emotional Labor? A Social Information-Processing Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 1–12.

Wang, E. J., Berthon, P., Pitt, L., & McCarthy, I. P. (2016). Service, emotional labor, and mindfulness. Business Horizons, 59(6), 655–661.

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