The extant research on emotional labor (EL) has focused on positive and negative outcomes observed in the workplace; however, many fundamental questions remain unanswered. The research has yet to consider what factors buffer the negative outcomes of EL. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between workload job demand and employee well-being with mediating effects of surface acting (SA) and moderating effects of emotional intelligence (EI) in service organizations.Design/methodology/approachThe authors used two wave data from a sample of 207 emergency medical technicians to test the hypotheses.FindingsBy integrating SA, EI and employee well-being with the conservation of resource theory, the authors found evidence of an indirect effect of workload job demand on emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction via SA. The results of moderated mediation show that the negative relationship between SA and job satisfaction was low when EI was high and the positive relationship between SA and emotional exhaustion was low when EI was high.Research limitations/implicationsA major limitation of the present study is that all the participants were male and drawn from a single profession within the same organization. Another limitation is that the data were collected through self-reports.Practical implicationsThis research has important theoretical and practical implications for service organizations wishing to buffer the harmful effects of SA on employees. This study presents key theoretical implications for the EL and well-being literatures. An important practical implication is that EI is a good resource for managing SA’s negative outcomes.Originality/valueThe current study contributes to the extant research by showing that workload job demands have negative effects on employee well-being via SA resulting in reduced job satisfaction and increased emotional exhaustion. Further, the negative outcomes of SA on employee well-being can be buffered through EI by taking EI as an emotional resource. High level of EI helps employees to mitigate the harmful effects of SA.
Personnel Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 22, 2019
Keywords: Emotional intelligence; Surface acting; Job demand; Employee well-being
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