Emotional Labor Essay

What is this subject called Emotional labor. Some may say that it is the pain from having a baby or feeling from struggling with a relationship. Well it is neither. Emotional labor is an essential part of success in the work field. It is an employee’s acting ability that hold the picture of how to perform at work. It is the image one should want to keep at work in order to success at work. According to Wikipedia, “Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers, and superiors. This includes analysis and decision making in terms of the expression of emotion, whether actually felt or not, as well as its opposite: the suppression of emotions that are felt but not expressed”. This paper explores the concept of emotional labor since it is common in all types of organizations and across all levels of positions. With the different meanings and interpretation of emotional labor, one definition is not as productive as identifying the words behind the subject.

One way of looking at the above definitions when a person engages in emotional labor, is to identify a few examples of emotional labor that relate directly to workplace. The categories of emotions are labeled as “Nasty” (anger, envy, jealousy); “Existential” (anxiety, guilt and shame); “Emotions provoked by unfavorable/favorable life conditions” (relief, hope, sadness/happiness, depression/love) and “Empathetic” (gratitude and compassion). 2 {textbook}. Understanding the labels of emotional labor in some ways create and maintain a productive business and personal relationship. Meaning, that any message that influences other people to take action and control of these emotions, is a silent requirement for effective performance appraisal, and motivation of staff members. Often, employees feel they have a good grasp on these feelings.

The psychological cost of emotional labor may affect an employee’s interpersonal relationships with their peers. Their productivity may cause employees to feel stress from their co-workers to conform to the norms of their work group. If the position is not satisfying or boring.

Psychological cost of emotional labor may affect an employee’s sleep pattern. When the shift required being at work early in the morning, then doing things at night has vanished. When the shift is for graveyard the day has been missed for sleeping and the night is for working. The employee starts to feel delusional on the days that the sleep pattern is off. When the person is at work, the thought of always being awake is so stressful; they refuse to take a nap on their lunch break. The stress continues even on the employee days off. They go to bed the same time and wake up the same time as if they were getting ready for at work.

Another psychological cost in the workplace is choosing work over family. Positions that affect this cost could be military personnel, cruise ship members, or pilots but also the average worker. Does the worker choose to complete the deadline for that important meeting tomorrow or leave early to attend his child’s high school graduation? Many marriages get destroyed because of the pressures put upon the employee to choose their career over their family.

The fourth psychological cost is the cost of time and money spent studying for a career. One attends school, volunteers, does an externship, field studies, research, etc., and goes on the hunt for their “perfect” career. For many, the delusion of the perfect employment opportunity in their field of study is affected by emotional labor resulting in the employee questioning his or her career choice. For others, all the studying and hard work in their field of choice has gone by the wayside because the field of choice was saturated, leaving the end result of working in a non-related choice of employment. The workplace emotional labor factor has destroyed the educational motivation for many employees. Eventually, we find ourselves just working to pay the bills thus leading to retirement never having fulfilled the career dream.

In order to obtain a more in-depth understanding of a subject, one will ask questions and conduct research. So, to understand more about emotional labor, I conducted interviews at the place of employment of three different individuals. Each individual had a different occupation and worked in a different industry. By meeting in the different work setting, the concept of emotional labor went past mere obligation to comply with the company’s rules and expectations. To enhance the findings of the interview process, the questions and answers were completed in person rather than having a questionnaire filled out. The questions were open-ended questions so as to give the employee more interaction. It required workers to change their personality into a company’s approved personality one, which may sometimes be very dissimilar to their usual disposition.

The first person interviewed was a Ramp foreman for a railroad company. His job consisted of communicating information between the various departments. He is frustrated and angry much of the time, but he is expected to work in a professional manner at all time. He works because of the benefits the company offers, not because he feels important and worthy, he feels stuck in a dead-end job. He rates his satisfaction with the job an “8”.

The second person interviewed was an Administrative Assistant at a manufacturing warehouse. Like the railroad industry, manufacturing required a lot of professional communication. This employee stays with her job because she loves working with people and has the opportunity to work with various personalities throughout the day. However, some of these personalities can be demanding and even obnoxious, but she puts on an act of feeling happy and alert, even if she is frustrated. By the end of her eight hours, she is overwhelmed. She is happy to have a job. She rates her job as a “9” for satisfaction.

The Third person interviewed was a school teacher at a college. She was very satisfied with her career. And rated it as a “10”. She said because of the job requirements and expectations, it made her a very happy person. As a part of teaching, she stated that she is required to be calm, polite and cheerful. This is done by interaction with the student as if they are adults and not as kids. She did state that she feels that some of her students need extra attention either emotionally or academically and at times it can be difficult to not let her emotions get in the way. She also stated that as a teacher she can not get too personal with the students. Even when some students need extra attention.

From the answers of the interviews it is assumes that employees choose to communicate in a positive way. The choice to make an appropriate response for the position one works, or not work at all. To limit their actions in clearly prescribed ways. The Emotional labor process begins when one person wants to give good service information to another person. That’s way this approach is a positive 360 feedback model of communication. Staying in control of these emotions is the goal of organizational effectiveness. Often, employees feel they have a good grasp on these feelings.

The overall conclusion of emotional labor is that in the work field, emotional labor deserved to be accepted as self-directed until proven overwise. Mixed thought about emotional labor is understandable in spite of how people associated the term with the simple process. We need to think about the complexity of feelings and why a functional approach may be useful. Staying in control of these emotions is the goal of organizational effectiveness. The author Arlie Hochschild wrote “Feeling around the world, Emotional labor crosses borders in other ways as well” to express that the feeling is in every culture”. 3 So what profit has a person from all one's labor, in which one toils? The answer is the internal feeling one creates from it. From one person to the next person, all emotions from labor are different. The picture that is hold today of how to perform at work is the image one should want to keep at work in the future.


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