Emotional labour Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 28 March 2016

Emotional labour

1. According to Bryman (2004), emotional labour is regarded as situation in the workplace where workers are required to shows certain emotion as a part of their job. Bryman (2004, p.103) describes the developing trend of presuming work as a performance, where workplace is seen as stage for performance, while workers are the actors on the stage. He states that workers’ performance that is presented to the customers is vital as it is memorable to customers. Bryman (2004, p.103) emphasizes that emotional labour is capable of creating performative labour. In emotional labour, workers manage their inner feeling to display facial and bodily expression (Bryman, 2004, p.104). He suggests that the emotion shown can be positive or negative depends on the job’s requirement. Hochschild (1983, as cited in Bryman, 2004, p.104) considers emotional labour as acting, and distinguished it into surface and deep acting.

Surface acting is explained as displaying the accurate emotion without feeling it, whereas deep acting involves the true feeling when the emotion is being shown (Hochschild, 1983 cited in Bryman 2004, p.104). Bryman (2004, p.104) states that there is a continuing change from focus on control to formation of commitment to the organization, so that workers are emotionally attached to the organization. Bryman (2004, p.104) states that the creation of emotional tie will cultivate excitement and meaning for workers. Furthermore, Bryman (2004, p.105) suggests that emotional labour directly affects quality of service delivery, which also affects the quality of goods and services provided. Customers are getting more and more concern on the quality of delivery (Bryman, 2004, p.105). Showing positive emotion like smiling and making eye contact will develop good atmosphere when the service is being delivered (Bryman, 2004, p.105).

Bryman (2004, p.105) also states that with the research on flight attendants, it shows that display of positive emotion like smiling must be deeply felt by the workers but not surface acting. Emotional labour is very important as it distinguishes services which have roughly the same products (Bryman, 2004, p.106). Bryman (2004, p.106) explains that the growing understanding of emotional labour as one of the factors that affect customers satisfaction, which is important to repeat business have been the cause for customer care programmes’ growth. He also insists that Total Quality Management (TQM) have affected customer care programmes, which the main focus is on customer satisfaction. Bryman (2004, p.106) have focused on Disney Theme Parks which emotional labour is very vital in its service delivery. Every employee has been trained to show positive emotion all the time when confronting customers (Bryman, 2004, p.108).

Disney has made use of training programmes to create commitments and values which help in emotional labour (Bryman, 2004, p.109). Bryman (2004, p.110) has shown that lots of jobs involves certain level of emotional labour and there is formal emotional guideline in work role. Nevertheless, he argues that displaying emotion based on only formal instruction is a mistake, because it will affect workers’ work because workers themselves have own ability to express emotion needed in work. Bryman (2004, p. 111) states that huge fraction of employees is influenced by the necessity of emotional labour, and women are being demanded in profession related to emotional labour than men. Bryman (2004) relates the influence of emotional labour to workers in airlines, shops, McDonald’s, restaurants, telephone call centres, zoos, and hotels. In addition, Hochschild (1983) as cited in Bryman (2004, p. 121) proposes that emotional labour leaves adverse effect on labourer as it separates worker’s action and feeling.

However, studies (Wouter, 1989; Leidner, 1993; Sharma and Black, 2001 cited in Bryman 2004, p.121) showed that emotional labourers in some jobs feel satisfied when able to assist customers. Bryman (2004, p.122) suggests that the incurrence of bad effect of emotional labour is dependent on jobs environment. He also proposed that ‘philanthropic emotional labour’ is occasionally expressed by worker out of willingness and will not incur negative effect on workers. Besides that, aesthetic labour involves forming employees into desired appearance to portray the image of company (Bryman, 2004, p.123). Bryman (2004, p.123) suggests that the aesthetic and emotional labour are used together in workplace, and the growing importance of style and image will increase the need of aesthetic labour. Hence, emotional labour has been increasingly demanded as it can differentiate one service from another. Emotional labour may inflict adverse impact on emotional labourer, but there are also researches that show the other ways round.

2. Emotional labour has greatly influence the service industries nowadays
(Bryman, 2004). However, arguments exist within the issue of emotional labour over the years (Smith, 1999).  Firstly, it is agreeable that emotional labour is related strongly with service performance (Bryman, 2004, p.105). This is due to positive emotion in service delivery to customers will provide satisfaction to customer which satisfaction implies good quality of service delivery (Bryman, 2004, p.106). Involving emotions when facing customers is vital to keep loyal customer and repeat business as it give much satisfaction to customers (Albrecht & Zemke, 1985 cited in Grandey,2000 ). Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) as cited in Grandey (2000) states that handling emotion may cause positive delivery of service as it reflects good image of organization and makes customers feel good. Positive expressions of emotion like smiling and giving compliments are some example of involving emotion to boost service performance (Adelmann, 1998 cited in Grandey, 2000). Studies from Pugh (1998) as cited in Grandey (2000) showed that there is a direct relationship between emotion shown by bank teller and customer contentment.

Besides, it is undeniable that women are more demanded than men in jobs related to emotional labour (Bryman, 2004, p.111). He states that it may because of women are more suitable to display emotion in some particular jobs (Bryman, 2004, p.112). According to Fay (2011), gender differences are significant in occupations with high level of emotional labour. Finding by Simpson and Stroh (2004) as cited in Fay (2011) showed that women are more probably conceal their negative feeling, whereas men are likely to hide their positive feeling. In addition, research by Mann (2007) as cited in Fay (2011) revealed that men express true emotion on what they actually feel, while women tend to show warmth and not affected by their true feeling.

Women have higher level of emotional expressivity (Rafaeli and Sutton, 1989 cited in Grandey, 2000). Therefore, they can accomplish service jobs better which require emotional labour (Grandey, 2000). Apart from that, Bryman (2004) stresses that women are more suitable than men in some occupations where sexuality is a key element. Example of those work that suit women is nursing, nurses are required to express strong emotion such as care, affection and kindness (Henderson, 2001). The nursing work suit women since they have high level of emotional expressivity. From all 2,500,000 nurses, only 6% are men and this showed that nursing is an occupation dominated by female (NursingSchool.org, n.d.).

Hochschild (1983 cited in Bryman 2004, p.121) argues that worker engaged in emotional labour will have negative effect inflicted to them. However, it is not always the case that emotional labourers are adversely affected. Studies have shown that emotional labourers like flight attendants, beauty therapists and insurance agents do not feel the negative impacts of emotional labour when being involved (Wouters, 1989; Leidner, 1993; Sharma and Black, 2001 cited in Bryman, p.121). Research by Ashford and Humphrey (1993) as cited in Grandey (2000) showed that workers involved in emotional expression to satisfy have more jobs satisfaction as they make their jobs less dull. A study on table servers reported that employees who really put feeling in the jobs are more satisfied than employees who do not (Adelmann, 1995 cited in Grandey, 2000). Hence, those studies have shown that workers involved in emotional labour are not harmfully affected, but they gain job satisfaction from it.

Finally, cast members in Disneyland must show emotional labour when facing every customer (Bryman, 2004, p.109). This aspect of emotional labour in Disneyland is not the best emotional approach to bring the best out of the cast members. This is because workers feel horrible when their emotion is totally controlled by the organization (Hohschild, 1983 cited in Bryman, 2004). Lack of control and autonomy over their own emotion can lead to life stress and work stress (Rodin, 1986 cited in Grandey, 2000).

Research from Wharton (1993) as cited in Grandey (2000) discovered that employee with high emotional autonomy have relatively low emotion fatigue than employee with low autonomy. Eventually, low autonomy and high emotional regulation in workplace can cause withdrawal behaviour (Grandey, 2000). Grandey (2000) suggests that emotionally exhausted workers might leave the organization in the long run due to burnout. A court case involving customer service workers sued the company because they were required to smile even though they were sexually harassed by customers (Grandey, 2000). Thus, Disneyland which takes away workers’ emotional independence might cause negative result.

In conclusion, many arguments still persist in the aspects of emotional labours. Therefore, more researches and studies needed to be carried out so that emotional labour can bring the best out of workers and ultimately the organization.

3. Emotional labour have increasingly significant to business nowadays. Everyone has the experience related emotional labour whether on the giving or receiving end. I have encountered many occasions associated to emotional labour in which I’m on the receiving end. After reading text by Bryman (2004), I felt that emotional labour is extremely important in today’s workplace to satisfy customers after reflecting on my own experience. The most memorable encounter I had experience was at electronic shops. I was surveying between the shops to purchase an electronic device I wanted. As I was surveying between electronics shop, I realised that the attitude of salespersons towards customer are different from one another.

When I was at one of the shops, the salesperson welcomes me with a bright smile and offers me help whenever I need it. He was explaining patiently the feature of the device to me with a pleasurable tone and his smile never went away even it took a long time to explain to me. On the other hand, when I was at another electronic shop, the situation was totally different from the first shop. The salesperson did greet me when I entered the shop but his face was gloomy and most importantly without a smile. From his tone when speaking to me, I felt that he was not willing to serve and explain his product to me.

He did not proactively explain his product and only answered my inquiry with a low tone. Finally, I bought the device from the first electronic shop. In my case, salesperson as the frontline service employee is very critical as they are the key to generate sales to consumers (Smith, n.d.). So, they are the workers who should involve emotional labour to perform their task effectively (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993 cited in Grandey, 2000). In my case, the first salesperson expressed positive emotion which satisfy me as a customer but the second salesperson did not. Eventually, the first salesperson succeeded selling his product to me.

In conclusion, after reading the text by Bryman (2004), I realised that the importance of emotional labour especially in service industries. I understand the significant even more deeply when it relates to my own experience as myself had influenced by emotional labour.

Adelmann, P.K., 1995. Emotional labor as a potential of job stress. In: S.L. Sauter and L.R. Murphy, eds. n.d. Organizational risk factors for job stress. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp.371-381. Albrecht, K. and Zemke, R., 1985. Service America! Doing business in the new economy. Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin. Ashforth, B.E. and Humphrey, R.H., 1993. Emotional labour in service role: The influence of identity. Academy of Management Review, 18(1), pp.88-115. Bryman, A., 2004. Disneyization of Society. [e-book] London: SAGE Publication Ltd. Available through: Tun Hussein Onn Library website [Accessed 16 August 2012]. Fay, C.L., 2011. Gender differences in emotional labour. Ph.D. The University of Texas at Arlington. Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2012]. Grandey, A.A., 2000. Emotional Regulation in the Workplace: A New Way to Conceptualize Emotional Labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, [e-journal] 5(1), pp. 95-110. Available through: Penn State website [Accessed 23 October 2012]. Henderson, A., 2001. Emotional labor and nursing: an under-appreciated aspect of caring work. Nursing Inquiry, [e-journal] 8(2). Available through: Nursing Network on Violence Against Women, International [Accessed 20 October 2012]. Hochschild, A.R., 1983. The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press. Leidner, R., 1993. Fast Food, Fast Talk. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mann, S., 2007. Expectations of emotional display in workplace: An American/British comparative study. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 28(6), pp.552-570. NursingSchool.org, n.d. Nurses by the number. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2012]. Pugh, S.D., 1998. Why do happy employees have happy customers? Emotional contagion as an explanatory in research on customers service. First Conference on Emotions and Organizational Life. San Diego, CA. Rafaeli, A. and Sutton, R.I., 1989. The expression of emotion in organizational life. In: L.L. Cummings and B.M. Staw, eds. n.d. Research in organizational behaviour. Greenwich, CT: JAI
Press. Vol. 11, pp.1-42. Rodin, J., 1986. Aging and health: Effect on the sense of control. Science, 233, pp.1271-1276. Sharma, U. and Black, P., 2001. Look good, feel better: Beauty therapy as emotional labour. Sociology, 35(4), pp.913-931. Simpson, P. and Stroh, L., 2004. Gender Differences: Emotional Expression and Feelings of Personal Inauthenticity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(4), pp. 715-721. Smith, D., 1999. Emotional labor. Soundings, [e-journal] 11(spring). Available through: Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust [Accessed 25 October 2012]. Smith, G.P., n.d. Customer Service success. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2012]. Wharton, A.S., 1993. The affective consequences of service work: Managing emotions on the job. Work and Occupations, 20(2), pp.205-232. Wouters, C., 1989. The Sociology of Emotions and Flight Attendants: Hochschild’s Managed Heart. Theory, Culture and Society, 6(1).

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