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TSVC | Tourism Students Virtual Conference


Author: Anna Jata
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Abstract: In this conference paper is presented the importance of emotional labour in the tourism and hospitality industry. This paper aims to discuss the detrimental effects that emotional labour can have on the workforce and why the highest rate of burnout is considered to be among people employed in the hospitality industry, including waiters.

Keywords: Tourism and Hospitality, Emotional Labour, Service Industry, Restaurant, Waiter, Burnout, Stress.

The service industry’s size is groving in the world, It is a poeople industry and requires contact with customers around the clock. People employed in customer service are paid not only for their technical skills, but also for their emotional labour. Emotional Labour is emotional display’s management by employees in order to satisfy anticipations of an organization during face-to-face or voice-to-voice interpersonal interplay (Van Dijk, Smith and Cooper, 2011). It is widely written about emotional labour in the academic literature. For example Grandey (2000) defines emotional labour as labour to improve, false or overwhelm emotion in order to comply with the rules of organizational display (Grandey, 2000). Hochschild (1983) emphasizes that emotional labour is ‘sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value’ (Hochschild, 1983, p.7).

Employees of the tourism and hospitality industry smile because they are continuously on stage and because the smile is expected from them. One should note here that employees have to put smile on their face regardless of what they actually feel because it is part of the work. In addition to smile, the deeds and words of frontline employees endow to service’s positive evaluation in addition to providing of psychological satisfaction to the clients (Sohn and Lee, 2011). One cannot deny that employee’s actual state of emotions is not always same as required by organisational display rules. Studies show that the own sense of identity of frontline employees has to be managed according to their workplace demands. With demanding of work how they should feel and behave, the private emotional space of these employees is now likewise being commodified and invaded (Ooi and Ek, 2010).

It is widely recognized that emotional labour can have on the workforce detrimental effects, including burnout. Within tourism and hospitality industries, studies have researched burnout causes focusing on the environment of work, including characteristics of job, structures of organizations and role stressors. In restaurant industry a waitress or waiter is a main element of failure or success of a business because he/she is the frontline member of staff. Usually such work is not well paid, wages are unpredictable, and it it is mostly undertaken by in the labour market most disadvantaged groups of people, such as young people, woman or immigrants (Watt, 2007). Stressful situations occur daily, the working environment of a restaurant is stressful in general. Restaurant employees that work in providing services face intensely stressful situations at work, such as being short of colleagues and interacting with miserable clients, that can yell at the personnel without any reason. What is more, a waiter is working by the clock and to the time is also related profit of the restaurant, because the faster is the turnover, the more incomes can be generated as well as better tips. Furthermore the cook’s and waiter’s relationship can be loaded with tension (Rose, 2001). Another stressors that characterize this occupational group comprise lack of employment relationship’s stability, unsociable and long working hours, as well as shift work (Pienaar and Willemse, 2008)..

Regardless what waiters really feel and all stressful and unpleasant situations that occur at work, they have to maintain a definite composure and professionalism and put on smile when is angry or hurt, they must appear professional, must look unhurried and be positive and friendly towards their clients. Doubtless, it may appear emotionally intrusive and draining, and over time can wear on people and cause becoming frustrated and tired or experience other unfavorable reactions (Poulston, 2009). Grandey (2000) believes that employees’ continually faking or suppressing of their emotions in order to following the rules of a company, make them to suffer an enduring disagreement between outward expressions and inner feelings (Grandley, 2000). As a consequence, this emotional dissonance leads to stress at work and emotional discomfort, which causes in turn job dissatisfaction and burnout. It is undeniable that an employee that is experiencing burnout at work may demonstrate signs of helplessness, irritability, depression, and an increase in anxiety’s level and a decrease in self-respect. What is more, from job burnout can occur some negative life and health problems, such as family and marital, drug and alcohol use, trouble sleeping and physical exhaustion (Maslach and Jackson, 1981).

It is very clear from these observations that in such employments as waiter, where part of the requirements of the workplace are interpersonal interactions and service, employees have to follow the rules of a restaurant in order to retain their job. Nevertheless, they have to understand what can create negative emotions, as well as how to cope and manage this emotions effectively and how to separate themselves from the job role in order to avoid burnout and increase well-being at work and job satisfaction.

Key references:

Grandey, A. (2000) Emotion regulation in the workplace: a new way to conceptualize
emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 5, 95–110.

Hochschild, A. R. (1983, 2003) The managed heart. Commercialization of human feeling. (Twentieth anniversary edition) London: University of California Press.

Maslach, C., and Jackson, S. E. (1981). The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2, 99–113.