Home > Free Essays > Business > Management > The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour

The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Aug 12th, 2019

Introduction

This paper explores the problems posed by the growth of emotional labour in management and labour. The growing importance of emotional labour in the labour market (especially in service industries) informs this analysis. After weighing the impact of emotional labour on employee performance and labour practices, this paper shows that the growth of emotional labour bears significant managerial and labour implications.

Its managerial impact stems from the impact of emotional labour on work performance, employee burnout, and employee turnover. Its implications on the labour market manifests through the impact of emotional labour on labour practices and gender equality in the labour market. This paper affirms this observation by evaluating the theoretical and empirical work of other researchers.

This analysis occurs in the literature review section where the paper explores the managerial implications of emotional labour. The implications of emotional labour on labour practices also complement this analysis because it demonstrates how the unique dynamics of emotional labour affect managerial actions.

The understanding of empirical and theoretical constructs of emotional labour supports these analyses. In the discussion section, this paper analyses the implications of emotional labour on labour practices and the management of employees.

This analysis informs the conclusion of the paper, which shows that the growth of emotional labour poses significant challenges for management and the labour market because it leads to high employee turnover, job dissatisfaction, and inequalities in labour practices.

Definition of Terms

Phenomenology –A study of human experiences that do not have a basis in objective reality

Norms – the beliefs and values of a particular community

Job Autonomy – The independence and freedom of employees

Literature Review

Managerial Implications of Emotional Labour

Most of the literature focusing on the implications of emotional labour in the workplace emphasise on the negative impact of emotional labour. Mainly, these literatures focus on the role of emotional labour in increasing drug abuse and alcohol abuse in the workplace. The same studies have also shown that emotional labour causes employee absenteeism (Morris & Feldman 1996).

From such arguments, researchers like Hochschild (1989) believe that emotional labour detaches employees from their true feelings because they have to exude mixed emotions, which may not necessarily reflect what they feel. This way, Hochschild (1989) believes that emotional labour bears significant negative consequences for the psychological well-being of workers.

Some researchers have however questioned the theory that emotional labour bears a negative impact on psychological well-being of employees by suggesting that different occupations require different degrees of emotional labour.

In this regard, researchers such as Douglas & Norsby (2007) have said jobs that require intense emotional labour lead to low job satisfaction, while jobs that required low emotional labour do not have a significant impact on the psychological well-being of workers.

Morris & Feldman (1996) report these findings after they did the study using questionnaire responses from table servers. The study measured emotional labour as a measure of the psychological well-being of workers.

A different study by Rowen (2003) shows a different interpretation of the relationship between emotional labour and psychological well-being. The study showed that the relationship between the two variables were not straightforward.

This outcome contradicted studies by Hochschild (1989) which showed that emotional labour had a negative impact on employee well-being. Instead, the outcome of the study showed that employee well-being was also subject to job autonomy.

Therefore, albeit a job may require intense emotional labour, if the workers have adequate job autonomy, they may not suffer the negative psychological well-being that Hochschild (1989) proposed.

Implications of Emotional Labour on Labour Practices

Many researchers affirm the ability of women to express greater emotional sensitivity than their male counterparts do (Noon 2010). For example, women smile more frequently than their male counterparts do (Morris & Feldman 1996). Consequently, many employers associate positive emotions in the workplace with women.

Rafaeli (1989) supports this fact by suggesting that female store clerks conveyed many positive emotions in the workplace (compared to their male counterparts). His reasons for the positive portrayal of female emotions stem from the socialisation of women as the more friendly gender (compared to men), the ability of women to encode their emotions better than men do, and the strong need for social approval within the female gender.

Hochschild (1989) agrees with the suggestion that female employees are more socialised than men are. He explains that this observation is true because the society expects women to be better emotional handlers than men are (both in the workplace environment and at home).

To explain his point, Hochschild (1989) noted, “the world turns to women for mothering, and this fact silently attaches itself to different job requirements” (p. 182). The implication for this observation centre on the wider societal expectation of women to perform better than men do (in occupations that require intense emotional labour). The same expectations also remain true for the home environment.

Theoretical Understanding

Many researchers have explored the implications of emotional labour on organisations but the emotional labour theory offers the best insight into the consequences of emotional labour on managerial practices and the labour market.

Mainly, the emotional labour theory outlines that emotional labour does not always lead to negative outcomes. Nonetheless, the theory fails to consider the different emotional experiences of employees in the organisation.

Other theories of emotional labour, which explain the implications of emotional labour in the organisation, include the concept of structuralism. The structuralism concept mainly focuses on investigating the macro-social aspects of emotional labour and people’s understanding of the concept (in the organisational setting) (Rowen 2003).

The structuralism concept also considers the “social actor” as a passive entity in emotional management. This way, the current social order in the labour market prevails because when the social entity (worker) is passive, selfish, and constrained, social inequalities occur. In other words, the structuralism concept outlines that the portrayal of emotions (like shame and guilt) work to maintain the existing social order.

This argument is especially true for gender roles in the workplace because the expectation of different emotional labour roles often conform to social norms (Rowen 2003). Therefore, on one hand, people reward most socially conforming norms in the workplace with social acceptance, while the society opposed non-conformance to social roles through rejection and shame.

Somewhat, the concept of structuralism explains how emotional labour does not lead to negative outcomes. For example, if a service provider and the recipient of the service share the same emotional expectations, there is no basis for the realisation of negative emotional outcomes.

Adherence to societal norms normally provides the basis for the similarities between the service provider and service recipient. In fact, Rowen (2003) says positive emotions normally occur when the service provider and recipient share equal expectations.

Recently, some cognitive theorists shifted their focus for understanding the implications of emotional labour from an emotional context to an emotional process (Noon 2010). In fact, such theorists say it is possible to evaluate one’s emotional experience with their emotional performance and its effect on other people.

How employees display their emotions therefore outline their internal emotional dispositions (Noon 2010). Rowen (2003) warns that using the cognitive theory to explain emotional responses may lead to different outcomes. In other words, one service provider may have a very different emotional understanding (of a situation) from another service provider.

This difference may occur because of several issues, including how the service providers understand their roles. Often, in such instances, negative emotional outcomes may occur. For example, when an unhappy customer interacts with an exhausted service provider, feelings of embarrassment and shame may emerge from the interaction.

When such an outcome occurs, the service providers (who may be working many hours in a day) may perceive the customer’s response as inappropriate and therefore react by showing anger towards him. Ultimately, this stressful situation amounts to emotional frustration.

Phenomenology researchers have a different understanding of emotional labour from cognitive theorists. Their understanding focuses on the “significant, dynamic, and the moral nature of emotions, as opposed to the broad macro understanding of the emotional interaction” (Rowen 2003, p. 5).

Therefore, phenomenology researchers consider the emotions of employees as an attachment of their moral and individual perceptions of the world. Phenomenology researchers also attach a lot of importance to an individual’s feeling as a way to foster self-knowledge (Rowen 2003).

This belief stems from the understanding of people’s emotional manifestation as a justification for their reactions. Usually, if it is impossible to justify the emotion, then it is easy for people to judge an action as inappropriate.

Discussion

The growth of emotional labour poses significant challenges for management and labour. However, the extent of the influence of emotional labour varies, depending on the nature of the job. This paper shows that different researchers have differed on the extent that emotional labour influences worker performance.

Indeed, this paper shows that some researchers support the view that emotional labour leads to low job satisfaction and worker exhaustion, while other researchers have cautioned against assuming a direct and negative relationship of emotional labour with job performance, because they believe the nature of the job influences the job performance.

For management purposes, the influence of emotional labour on job performance should be a critical issue for decision-making because poor job performance may affect negatively an organisation’s productivity.

More importantly, the understanding that emotional labour detaches employees from their natural personalities should be of high concern to management because employees who do not feel like they are in their “natural element” cannot perform well.

This is a serious managerial issue for managers to rectify by assigning the right employees to work in jobs that fit their personalities. Here, there needs to be a careful emphasis on the recruitment and selection process of new employees because this is the only way for managers to identify employee characteristics that fit different job descriptions.

Introducing managerial sensitivity to the unique dynamics of every employee is also an important strategy for reducing an organisation’s employee turnover because many researchers have linked job dissatisfaction (from emotional labour) with high employee turnover.

This outcome is beneficial for different organisations because it can save managers a lot of money (which would be lost in lack of innovation and the recruitment of new employees).

Apart from the managerial challenges of emotional labour, this paper also points out that emotional labour causes significant labour disparities between men and women. So far, this paper has demonstrated the ability of women to be better performers in jobs that require intense emotional labour.

Their ability to perform better than men informs the preference by many employers to employ women in jobs that require intense emotional labour (Morris & Feldman 1996). This preference promotes gender imbalance in the organisation. More importantly, it discriminates against men who would want to apply for jobs that are naturally emotionally intensive (like service industry jobs).

Conversely, this gender imbalance maintains the status quo, where employers prefer women to work in mass production roles while men work in managerial positions (Scholarios & Taylor 2011, p. 1291). This dynamic complicates existing discriminatory practices in the workplace that prevent women from scaling the managerial ladder.

Traditional inhibitions like mothering roles and the lack of supervisor support therefore add to the complexity witnessed by women in securing high status jobs. T

he growth of emotional intensive jobs therefore concentrates a large population of female workers in intensive and lower-status work, while men scale the managerial ladder and secure higher status positions. This dynamic creates an imbalance in the distribution of jobs across the labour market, mostly to the detriment of women.

Conclusion

After weighing the findings of this paper, it is safe to say the growth of emotional labour poses significant problems for management and the existing labour dynamics in the workplace. Notably, the growth of emotional labour poses significant challenges to management because it affects job satisfaction and increases worker burnout.

These dynamics have a serious consequence on the performance of an organisation because it may increase employee turnover and eventually inhibit organisational performance. These implications may have a negative economic effect on an organisation.

Since emotional labour has significant gender implications, this paper demonstrates that emotional labour causes significant gender imbalances in the organisation. The perception among employers that female employees have a better emotional display than men do, increase the concentration of women in emotionally intensive jobs because employers believe they can perform better at this level.

Conversely, this dynamic increases their concentration in mass production jobs. Albeit some employers are bound to discriminate against male employees who may want to work in such low job levels, a bulk of the victims of such discriminatory tendencies are women (Noon 2010).

Women stand the best chance to lose by experiencing a “glass ceiling” that limits their chances of occupying other employment positions in the organisation (such as high status jobs). The growth of emotional labour therefore limits the possibility of women to occupy high status jobs in the workplace.

Conversely, male employees experience more emotionally intensive labour processes because they are ill equipped to manage their emotions (compared to women). The inequalities between male and female employees (in the provision of emotional labour) therefore pose significant challenges to the realisation of gender balance in the workplace.

This situation may lead to undesirable workplace dynamics. Comprehensively, the growth of emotional labour poses significant challenges for management and the labour market because it may lead to high employee turnover, job dissatisfaction, and inequalities in labour practices.

References

Douglas, J & Norsby 2007, Gender Differences In Emotional Labor Processes, University of Kansas, Kansas.

Hochschild, A 1989, The second shift, Viking, New York.

Morris, A & Feldman, D 1996, ‘The Dimensions, Antecedents and Consequences of Emotional labor,’ Academy Of Management Review, vol. 21 no. 4, pp. 986-1010.

Noon, M 2010, ‘The shackled runner: time to rethink positive discrimination,’ Work Employment Society, vol. 24, p. 728.

Rafaeli, A 1989, ‘When clerks meet customers: A test of variables related to emotional expression on the job,’ Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 74, pp. 385-393.

Rowen, G 2003, Emotional Labour, Theories of Emotion, and Social Exchange Theory: Examining Emotions in the Context of an Evolving Service Sector,

Scholarios, D & Taylor, P 2011, ‘Beneath the glass ceiling: Explaining gendered role segmentation in call centres,’ Human Relations, vol. 64 no. 10, pp. 1291- 1314.

This essay on The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, August 12). The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, August 12). The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/

Work Cited

"The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour." IvyPanda, 12 Aug. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emotional-labour/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Growth of Emotional Labour in Management and Labour'. 12 August.

Powered by CiteTotal, the best bibliography maker
More related papers