Original Research

Emotional labour: The effects of genuine acting on employee performance in the service industry

Nomonde F. Ngcobo, Nyashadzashe Chiwawa, Henry Wissink
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 20 | a1583 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v20i0.1583 | © 2022 Nomonde F. Ngcobo, Nyashadzashe Chiwawa, Henry Wissink | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2021 | Published: 24 February 2022

About the author(s)

Nomonde F. Ngcobo, School of Management, IT, Governance, Faculty of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nyashadzashe Chiwawa, School of Management, IT, Governance, Faculty of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Henry Wissink, School of Management, IT, Governance, Faculty of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Customers’ perceptions of service quality are influenced by the emotions exhibited by service personnel in service contacts. Hence, organisations expect service employees to portray emotions that that are desired by the employer, in addition to their job expertise.

Research Purpose: This paper demonstrates how emotional labour, which can have both functional and dysfunctional consequences for the individual and their organisations, is not restricted to interactions at the customer‐organisation interface but is becoming increasingly prevalent within all organisational communications.

Motivation for the study: Boundary spanners play an important role for both the organisational reputation and customer satisfaction. However, literature on how emotional labour influences the way service employees execute their duties within the customer-service industry remains insufficient.

Research approach, design and method: This qualitative research purposively chose eight participants affiliated with the racecourse industry. Data was analysed thematically.

Main findings: The study shows that genuine acting by hospitality boundary spanners helps them to act willingly, hence, less stressful. The findings further suggest that putting on an emotional mask has a negative effect on frontline employees as this makes them feel aloof from the events they encounter at work due to emotional disconnections caused by masking their true emotions.

Practical/Managerial implications: Service employees should perceive customer care as a psychological characteristic that requires a balance between voluntary self-management and employee’s regulation of consumers.

Contribution: This study extends the body of knowledge about the impacts of emotional labour, specifically the effects of genuine acting on hospitality employees. This contributes towards suggesting emotional labour coping strategies that can be implemented to mitigate possible negative consequences.


Keywords

emotional labour; boundary spanning; emotional labour; employee performance; genuine acting; hospitality; racecourse; surface acting; service industry

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