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The Cost of Great Customer Service: Insomnia

The Cost of Great Customer Service: Insomnia

It is no secret that in the customer service industry, the customer is always right and that smiling is a part of the job description. Nonetheless, an intriguing small study was published in the journal Personnel Psychology and it suggests that we should consider the consequences of emotional labor in the workforce as it affects sleep.

Emotional labor can easily be described as being required to display specific feelings or emotions toward customers, co-workers, clients and other people at work, when those feelings aren’t genuine. It’s always great to have happy employees, but when emotions are faked insomnia may be on the rise.

78 bus drivers who were employed at a transit company in the northwestern U.S. were analyzed for 2 weeks. Each driver answered questionnaires before work, after work and right before they tucked into bed at night. The questions inquired about their moods throughout the day, sleep and whether they had faked their emotions during that day by putting on a “mask” or “performance” to display positive feelings.

The results showed that when drivers had faked their emotions at work during the day, he/or she was more likely to experience insomnia that night, compared to the drivers with authentic emotions. Drivers with fake emotions also reported being more distressed, felt emotionally drained at the end of the day and had more conflict with their family at home.

On the other hand, those drivers who behaved genuinely, whether they smiled because they felt like it or didn’t smile because they didn’t want to fake their emotions, reported better sleep quality on those nights.

Although he wasn’t involved in this particular study, Doug Pugh, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Management at Virginia Commonwealth University, has conducted previous research on the topic of emotional labor that was used in the new study.

He wrote to The Huffington Post to comment on the results, “The big point of all of this work on ’emotional labor’ — being friendly and pleasant and upbeat as part of your job — is that it is work. It is hard, and it drains people just like physical or mental labor might. But it is often unrecognized as ‘real’ work, so people don’t appreciate the difficult nature of this kind of ‘labor.'”

Pugh suggests that employers allow their employees to have a space where they can drop their fake emotions or create a sense of pride in their ability to mask their negative emotions. It’s important to provide emotional support as much as possible. What do you think of this compelling study? Do you feel differently at the end of the day when you have faked your emotions?

2 Responses to The Cost of Great Customer Service: Insomnia

  1. linda July 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Very true. I’m so tired when I get home, I don’t want dinner. I dread sleeping, because sometimes I dream of the customers yelling and manipulating us over prices. There are too many ppl who use the whine and scream to get what they want. Employers want to max out our time. Just sell, sell, sell. We have goals we have to reach and exceed every month, every year.
    we get the worst of both worlds.

    • Gallery Furniture's Sleep Center July 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you for your feedback Linda! Customer service is a tough industry and we do our best to look after the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our employees at Gallery Furniture. It sounds like your insomnia is stemming from replaying your work day in your head at night. To ease your stress throughout the day and make it easier to fall asleep, we suggest learning the art of mindfulness. Steal those moments for yourself to keep calm and boost your sleep health Linda, you deserve it! We hope you are having a wonderful weekend so far!

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