Emotions and Moods – Emotional Labor

Emotional labor is described as anything that service workers are expected to do, either physically or mentally that is beyond their normal duties. Examples of emotional labor include showing concern for clients, smiling, and being hospitable to customers. Although all this things are perceived as basic qualities of any employee who wishes to deliver quality customer care, they are forms of emotional labor. When an employee is faced with unpleasant customers, he/she has to hide his/her true emotions thus making emotional labor a challenging task(Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson, 1988).

Most companies emphasize on the need for customer service and for employees to show enthusiasm. This paper will discuss the impact of emotional labor on employees, and the organization. The paper will also look into aspects of emotional intelligence that would be most helpful for a Pret A Manger employee and finally determine whether a Pret Manger should use emotional intelligence tests to recruit employees.

. What do you think the positive benefits will be to Pret A Manger’s employees from the emotional labor they have to engage in? Will this emphasis on presenting a positive and happy image at all times lead to positive attitudes such as greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment?

Many people criticize emotional labor. Some people argue that employers should not dictate how employees manage their emotions since it causes emotional conflict and might even result in health issues. However, when used effectively, emotional labor can be of more benefit than the harm it may cause an organization and its employees. One of the major benefits that an employee by giving them a positive attitude towards their job. When one pretends to like something, they tend to develop a positive attitude over time. This makes emotional labor less demanding for them, which improves their attitudes even further.

When an employee is friendly, hospitable and treats customers well, those customers are more likely to respond more positively to him/her than they would have if that were not the case. When customers are positive towards an employee, they tend to be sensitive to his/her feelings. In such cases, customers not only have a great experience but they also give the employee constructive criticism in a positive manner. When feedback is delivered effectively, it is usually likely to foster improvement and professional growth.

The above-discussed ways in which emotional labor can help Pret A Manager employee raise an employee’s job satisfaction and organizational commitment. When one has a positive attitude towards his/her job, they tend to have a high level of job satisfaction. In addition, positive attitude promotes organizational commitment. When majority of customers are friendly and sensitive to the employee’s feeling, the employee is likely to have a high level of job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

  1. What negative consequences might Pret A Manger’s employee face from the heavy emotional labor they have to perform? Will it lead to burnout or other problems?

When an employee continually needs to portray emotions that are in line with his/her job requirements regardless of his/her true feelings usually results in emotional conflicts. This can often lead to emotional conflict (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson, 1988). The emotional conflict between true emotions and emotions that one shows to others lead to emotional exhaustion as well as burnout. Although some studies show that there is no connection between emotional conflict and exhaustion, others have found that suppressing emotions also leads to heightened stress levels and might even make an employee to disconnect from others. These inconsistencies in findings are mainly because different individuals deal with inauthentic emotions differently.  While some people identify with the organization and can readily accept the company’s values of emotional communication, others are less prepared to express such pretend emotions. Another problem is that some employees might find adapting to such working conditions challenging. Generally, People who are cheerful by nature find blocking negative emotions less challenging than others would normally. In addition, some employees cannot differentiate between different social situations effectively, which makes it hard for them to behave as expected. Employees with negative personalities as well as those with low social awareness tend to have challenges in dealing with emotional conflict, which in turn affects their job performance. Emotional stability plays a significant role in employee motivation and organizational commitment. When an employee is happy and content, they are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their job. When employees feel that they have to express pretend emotions, they may feel that the organization is not concerned about their well-being. Not being allowed to express their true emotions might send the message that their emotions are not important. This results in resentment, which can be demotivating and may even led to reduced commitment to the organization.

  1. Which of the four aspects of emotional intelligence do you think would be most helpful for a Pret A Manger employee? Should Pret A Manger use emotional intelligence tests to recruit employees?

Pret A Manger is a chain of cafés and sandwich shops known for their extremely friendly workers who take “service with a smile” to a new level (Jones, 2013). For an employee to be able to deliver the expected quality of service, they should poses certain aspects of emotional intelligence including:

Self-Awareness– this is the ability to understand and control one’s emotions effectively (Boyatzis & Goleman, 2000). A self aware person is confident and he/she never allows his/ her emotions get out of control. This quality would help an employee to perform an honest self-analysis and take criticism positively, which would increase productivity.

Self-Regulation– this is an employee’s capacity to control his/her emotions as well as his/her impulses (Boyatzis & Goleman, 2000).  People who self-regulate, rarely allow negative emotions such as anger or jealousy, to overcome them and they do not make decisions based on impulses either. When a Pret a Manger employee has this quality, they can easily perform emotional labor.

Empathy– this is the ability to understand and identify with other people’s needs as well as understand other people’s viewpoints of others (Boyatzis & Goleman, 2000). This quality would help a Pret A Manger’s employee recognize other people’s feelings, including those that are not obvious, which would in turn help him/her know how to show the appropriate emotions and help him/her manage relationships better.

Social Skills – this is the ability to be likable and the ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships. This quality would not only help a Pret A Manger’s employee to communicate the appropriate emotions effectively but it would also ensure that he/she is a team player.

These qualities are vital for ensuring that an employee delivers the expected level of service and does not become emotionally exhausted, which reduces productivity (Jones, 2013). To ensure that potential employees posses these qualities, Pret A Manger should use emotional intelligence tests to recruit its employees.

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