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MGMT 5013 Week 2 (22 May 2016) Journal Discussion - SALONEN
Title: Emotional labor threatens decent work: A proposal to eradicate emotional display rules
Authors: ALICIA A. GRANDEY, DEBORAH RUPP AND WILLIAM N. BRICE
Source: Journal of Organizational Behavior; 36, 770–785 (2015)
Date of Publication: 21 May 2015 in Wiley Online Library
Synopsis:
Emotional Labor Threatens Decent Work journal article by Grandey et al is a review and a remedy of the unequal costs of emotional labor borne by the workforce of certain organizations. The authors review the commoditization of required emotional labor over the past three decades and propose eliminating required corporate emotional displays of ie “service with a smile” without proper compensation.
The mechanics and definitions of emotional labor are discussed in the article and the authors suggest employers who currently require sustained levels of emotional labor are violating international standards of “decent work”, conduct unethical business practices and do not treat their workers humanely.
Required sustained emotional labor is a cause of cognitive dissonance of workers and potentially violates their sense well-being by an abusive customer base. The authors suggest emotional labor for the service industry should have a higher value such as some intellectual work and the workforce compensated accordingly.
The authors question the actual productivity and profitability of organizations who require unbalanced emotional labor efforts and proposes treating employees AND the customers in a more humanistic way. If the customers want service with a smile they in effect should genuinely earn it from a service provider who is naturally inclined to give it. Grandey et al does give support to organizations who recognize the value of emotional labor through enhanced employee satisfaction practices such as the Ritz Carlton.
Critique:
The authors do touch on market economics and wage differentials but do not spend enough time on the workforce being able to make decisions on their own to leave a company uninterested in workforce satisfaction or equitable pay. The authors do not allow enough discussion for individuality differences among workers who may thrive in a service oriented environment. There is no discussion or review of “service with a smile” as a job requirement freely chosen by the employed individuals much in the same way a weight lifting requirement is a part of other job descriptions. Not provided in the article are examples of profitable companies in service industries that do treat their workers well with good management systems.
The article does have “a modest proposal” in the title so it is not a surprise that this is an advocacy paper with a research element. The authors do bring to light (or dark) an interesting shift in the perception of how work and the individual emotional effort is valued as the world moves increasingly toward a service economy.
Related Chapter 3:
The Grady article is directly related to what is stated as a growing field of study in chapter three on pages 80 and 81. Emotional Labor is defined as ‘the effort and work required to manage your emotions and keep them under control”. While unequal and sometimes necessary emotional labor may effective for an organization as a whole, it may produce burnout and high stress in staff resulting in undesirable workplace.

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