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Does Emotional Labor Improve Performance?

Does Emotional Labor Improve Performance?

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Published by Raechel Martin

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Published by: Raechel Martin on Apr 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Raechel Martin
Does Emotional Labor Improve Performance?
The term “emotional labor” has a relatively negative
as “labor” tends to be
associated with a difficult task. Consequently, there are negative effects to emotional laborsuch as emotional estrangement. However, several psychologists and other experts believe thatemotional labor has positive effects on the performance of the business. This could mean highlevels of monetary gain, employee efficiency, or customer satisfaction. Using evidence fromseveral studies, I will describe the effects of external factors on emotional display, and theeffect of emotional labor on sales, employees, and customer satisfaction in order to determinewhether or not emotional labor enhances performance.Several external factors have the potential to affect emotional display such as age,gender, experience, psychological climate (Tsai, 2001), or the current emotions or theemployee. According to Tsai (2001), both age and years of experience in comparison toemotional display had insignificant correlations of .09 and .01, respectively. In support of 
Hochschild’s (1983) theory that women are more likely to manage their emotions, evidence
suggests that there is a .21 correlation between the sex of the employee and the amount of deep acting emotional management they do while performing emotional labor (Goldberg andGrandey, 2007); because of the coding scale (male= 1, female= 2) this would mean that morewomen than men utilize deep acting management. The current emotions of the employee donot seem to have a significant effect on emotional display with correlations of .01 (Tsai, 2001)and -.13 (Pugh, 2001) in two separate studies. This is in accordance
with the fact that “no
consistent evidence exist
s to demonstrate that negative moods affect service behaviors”
(quoted in Tsai, 2001, p. 30). Psychological climate, defined and evaluated by Tsai (2001) as an
employee’s perception of what is expected of them at the workplace
in regards to routines andbehaviors, has a significant effect on emotional display with a correlation of .16. Given thisevidence, it can be concluded that gender and psychological climate influence emotionaldisplay the most.It is common to assume that emotional display affects monetary gain because, logically,it makes sense; more smiles would be thought to make more money. However, based on thestudies done by Tsai (2001), Tidd and Lockard (1978), and Sutton and Rafaeli (1991), this issuggested to be false. In the study done by Tsai (2001), the insignificant correlation betweenemotional display and purchase decision in the shoe store was .03 meaning that even whenemotional display was high, it did not foster an increase in the likelihood of purchase. Also, in
the Tidd and Lockard’s (1978) study, there was no correlation between positive emotional
display and amount of drinks bought. However, there was a correlation between positiveemotional display and the amount of tips received when the waitress was a woman and thepatron was a man. So, in this case, the waitress had monetary gain, but the business did not.According to Sutton and Rafaeli (1991), the there is a weak negative correlation of -.06 betweenpositive emotional display and total sales; they denoted this correlation as insignificant. Even inthe study conducted by Pugh (2001), the correlation between transaction emotional displayand transaction busyness was -.28 further suggesting that positive emotional display did notincrease sales. All of these statistics point to the conclusion that positive emotional display doesnot increase sales.
So without monetary gain, how can emotional labor improve performance? Whenlooking at the short term, there are no immediate benefits. However, the purpose of a businessis not just to serve the customer in the present moment, but also to get them to return orencourage others to come. Therefore, emotional labor is necessary to give the customer asatisfactory perception of the store, restaurant, or other service, and thus improveperformance. In the Seattle bar, those who were shown positive emotional displays, returnedthe displays to the waitress (Tidd and Lockard, 1978); this is could also be due to the theory of emotional contagion: those who are smiled at, smile back. Regardless, the positive emotional
display had a positive effect on the customer and caused them to react positively. In Tsai’s
(2001) study, the correlation between displayed positive emotions and customer reaction was.23; customer reaction in this study was defined as their perception of the service quality,whether or not they would come back, and whether or not they would recommend that shoestore to a friend. Using the correlation, it can be said that positive emotional display relatesstrongly to a positive customer reaction. In the study by Pugh (2001), there was a clear positivecorrelation between transaction emotional display and customer service quality: .26. Accordingto Goldberg and Grandey (2007), deep acting and surface acting emotional management has acorrelation to emotional exhaustion of .23 and .39 respectively. Therefore, it could be inferredthat the more an employee emotionally manages his or herself, the more exhausted theybecome. This, unlike the previous effects on customers, is a negative effect on the employee.However, this is a small sacrifice in order to gain business, and also for the employee to keephis or her job. The positive effects regarding customer reaction override the negative effects onthe employees and help to improve the performance of the business.

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