Free Essay on How Emotional Labor Influences the Hospitality Industry

Published: 2022-07-04
Free Essay on How Emotional Labor Influences the Hospitality Industry
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Hospitality
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1892 words
16 min read

As most economies move from manufacturing to service provision, business leaders are keen to catch the best talent for the hospitality industry (Belanger and Edwards, 2013, p.434). The industry requires various traits that could mean the failure or success of the business in context. Understandably, everyday hospitality people have to deal with people who are going through multiple pressures and strains in their life but which they do not display to the public (Belanger and Edwards, 2013, p.434). It is thus a requirement for the people in the hospitality industry to serve from this perspective and cannot elicit the emotions inside of these clients in the course of serving them. This brings to context the concept of emotional labor in this industry. According to Hennig-Thurau et al., (2015, p.254), emotional labor is the process through which employees are expected to manage their emotions and expressions to conform to the organization's guidelines especially concerning the treatment of clients. The people at the hospitality stations have to at least fake a smile or some expression that makes the customer feel appreciated and valued.

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The concept of emotional labor has been a subject of debate among researchers, especially in the hospitality industry. Famous authors have shed an in-depth analysis on the issue but as with most other industries that keep on evolving; their studies and stock of knowledge are subject to challenge in some ways as shall be seen later in the essay. Most importantly, the authors have focused on the definition of various forms of emotional labor, the different ways of expressing it and the different impact it has on different customers (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2015, p. 254). This essay shall, besides, criticising the current pool of knowledge on the subject, offer a critical examination of the whole concept including the evolution that has taken place in the hospitality industry and the rising need for employment of emotional labor in the industry together with the misconceptions thereof.Emotional Labour Impacts and How It Affects the Industry

The workplace assumes the most significant importance of emotional labor. Human beings tend to possess different social values which are a consequence of their upbringing as well as the environment they interact with for the better part of their life (Guest 2002, p. 255-256). When these humans finally get to work together, there is bound to be at least some form of misunderstanding or some individuals have to tolerate others for the work relationships to thrive. The equation at the workplace is made further complex by the fact that employees have three orders to satisfy. They include that of their employers, abuse of which may lead to job loss or other consequences, and that of their clients as designated to them by the management. Also orders from their colleagues and other social requirements such as relationships with their families and friends (Guest 2002, p. 255-256).

The relationship at the workplace is further complicated by the fact that the communication between various parties has a different tone and also the content discussed is different (Guest 2002, p. 269). For example, the interaction between peers at the workplace may take a light nature, often checked with jokes and stories while that between the employees and their management is likely to be tested with professionalism and submission on the part of the employees for fear of consequences should they annoy their bosses. Finally, the communication between the employees and their clients requires that it is laden with understanding, empathy and a positive tone laced with friendliness and enthusiasm (Ghiselli, La Lopa and Bai 2001, p. 28). Maintaining this warm and welcoming face is a tall order for most employees but is nonetheless a requirement to remain in the job especially in the hospitality industry.

It is thus especially important for workers in the service and hospitality industry to learn always to have that attitude when dealing with their customers. It is hard to keep pretending forever which perhaps explains why most people in the hospitality industry express low levels of job satisfaction as well as why the hospitality industry sees such high rates of employees turn over (Ghiselli, La Lopa and Bai 2001, p. 28). Researchers and scientists have expressed difficulty in the practicality of the requirements by the management of hospitality industries for their employees to offer around-the-clock smile towards their customers arguing that the lives people live are bound to present them with events that make them gloomy and unwelcoming (Ashforth and Tomiuk 2000, p. 184). Similarly, by having it as a requirement, researchers have argued that they leave the hospitality people at the mercies of sometimes inconsiderate customers who no matter the quality of service offered to them, they are bound to either complain or engage in some unwarranted behaviour that makes it hard for the hospitality employee to continue with their positive outlook.

An important issue affecting employees in the hospitality industry is the potential to mistake their emotional labor for sexism towards their clients. For example, massage parlors are known to be the center where people seek services of massage and beauty therapy, a service that necessarily requires that there be physical contact between the client and the one offering the service. According to Patel (2008, p. 116), there have, however, been instances where the industry has been blamed for fuelling immorality arguing that in most cases, the physical contact between especially members of the opposite gender resulted in sexual advances often uninvited.

The second challenge for emotional labor is the mix between the employee's life at the workplace and that of their social spheres. Due to prolonged exposure to a life that require one to portray a false version of the real self often; the employees from the hospitality industry have had to bear with friends and family members who think of them as untrustworthy or less genuine owing to the nature of their job and their mastery of the role of pretending to be always enthusiastic (Patel, 2008, p. 116). This view is supported by Tracy (2000, p. 91) who argues that one's identity is likely to be lost in the course of performing a fake character of him/her. Authentic life experiences often require that one identifies with the situation as it is. For instance, in a burial, one is expected to be remorseful while events such as parenting require that one tells the kids precisely how they feel to be able to work around a solution. The hospitality industry, however, generates a kind of a person who is unable to act otherwise other than being friendly and enthusiastic.

The management of some firms has woken up to the reality that the pretentious nature of people who engage in emotional labor can be draining and often affect their output. This is evident, according to Richardson and Rothstein (2008, p. 69), in the efforts by some business leaders to involve stress management programmes for their employees in the hospitality industry as well as suggesting social behavior for them to manage their highly demanding lifestyles. These programmes include lifestyle counselling as well as programmes within the workplace including digital machines and games that help to relax the minds of the employees in a bid to ease the pressure they get from the clients who demand that they conceal the real selves to offer quality service (Richardson and Rothstein, 2008, p. 69).

A highly misunderstood aspect of emotional labor at the workplace is the distinction between cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence. Indeed, this misconception has been a debate between human resource departments for long noting its possibility to lead the hiring team from getting the right candidate for the job. While cognitive intelligence relies mainly on the ability by a person to understand matters from the standpoint of the other person, emotional intelligence goes further to form an appropriate response to the particular case in context (Bar-On et al., 2014, p. 223). This implies that for a person who merely possesses cognitive intelligence, they are likely to read the needs of a customer but may be unable to devise a response for the said customer in a manner that makes the customer feel appreciated. On the other hand, an employee who possesses emotional intelligence can carefully and intelligently coin their response in a way that makes the customer feel appreciated and valued.

Influence of Cultural Factors

Various other factors determine the ease of use of emotional labor by multiple employees. One such element is the dispositional traits of various individuals that are more inborn than as a result of training (Liu et al., 2004, p. 12). Characteristics like the use of voice, gestures and facial expressions vary from one person to another, and this affects their ability to display them in their discharge of emotional labor. Secondly, the culture one is born in also affects their expressiveness and their value for traits such as courtesy, respect, and enthusiasm. This implies that for an employee born into a culture that does not value these traits that are deliverables in the hospitality industry, they are likely to perform less efficiently in their roles that demand emotional labor (Liu et al., 2004, p. 12).

Contrast the above with a person born into a culture that treats people with courtesy, a smile and generally enthusiastic; such an employee is likely to be a better fit for the job than the former discussed employee (Hatch and Schultz 2002, p. 989). Thirdly, the connection between the career identity and the self-identity of certain employees determines how quickly they can engage in emotional labor. For instance, some people get into careers because of the lucrative nature of the job while a majority other get into careers because it matches well with their interests which they may even have pursued in other respects earlier in their lives. It follows, obviously that for the one who holds interests in the field of offering services is likely to outperform the one who got into the hospitality industry merely because the career pays well (Bar-On et al., 2014, p. 223).

Another critical factor that determines how readily employees engage in emotional labor is the nature of the workplace regarding the flow of people and also the kind of service (Liu et al., 2004, p. 12). For instance, in a store that sees several customers check-in per time, it may be hard to engage in lots of pleasantries with the customer unlike in an area where the flow of customers is low thus allowing the attendant to spend some reasonable amount of time with each customer. Depending on the kind of industry in which the service is being offered, it is much more likely that an employee in a patient care unit will provide more intensive emotional labor than is the case with a waitress (Hatch and Schultz 2002, p. 989). The logic is that the outcome in the patient situation is critically dependent on the way the caregiver handles the patient unlike is the case in a bar where the results are not as critical. This also reflects in the manner that these professionals are trained. Employees of care units and hospitals naturally undergo more intensive training due to the critical nature of their emotional labor. For example, patients who suffer diseases such as Alzheimer's disease that cause stigma would be required to wear a face, and use a language that makes the patient feel valued even when this is not the case. The contrast is correct for industries such as the bars and lounging where the employee only needs excellent communication skills and a feign...

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