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Emotional labor: Getting paid for good work attitude
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Most employers pay employees to do specific jobs. But how many employees are paid to like their jobs? Emotional labor is a part of many job descriptions and employees aren't being compensated for it. - photo by Matthew Jelalian
Every job has requirements. Factory workers are required to do specific tasks every day. Doctors have to abide by certain health and ethical codes in caring for patients. Cooks have to prepare food according to the menu.

But how many employees are required to look like they enjoy their jobs?

Emotional labor means employees must not only do their jobs but act a certain way to elicit an emotional response from customers,as well.

According to the Nation, low-paid McDonald's employees are being asked to get customers to pay for meals with love, by convincing them to call family members, dance or give hugs to friends.

They have to come up with cutesy tasks for their customers, the Nation reported. If someone doesnt seem too pumped to call his mom, they have to needle him into it. And they have to react with joy when the asked-for response is delivered. The workers are being told to put on a performance for customers in order to get a performance back.

According to the Nation, emotional labor is a problem because it requires poorly paid people to slather a smile onto their face and cover up the real conditions under which they labor.

While new at McDonalds, many companies have required emotional labor from their employees.

For a good long while, I let myself think that the slender platinum blonde behind the counter at Pret A Manger was in love with me, Timothy Noah wrote in The New Republic. How else to explain her visible glow whenever I strolled into the shop for a sandwich or a latte? Then I realized she lit up for the next person in line, and the next. Radiance was her job.

Noah had some strong words about emotional labor.

Pret doesn't merely want its employees to lend their minds and bodies; it wants their souls, too, he wrote. It will not employ anyone who is here just for the money.

However its not just fast-food workers who are expected to labor emotionally.

We expect pro athletes to paste on a smile and explain why they won, how they lost, what it felt like to fumble the ball or throw that interception that put the other team ahead, minutes after they've been pounded within an inch of their lives, Sarah Jaffe wrote in The Week.

She pointed out how Marshawn Lynch of the Seatle Seahawks was fined into submission until he famously began attending press conferences where hed only say that he was there so he wouldnt get fined.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, research has shown that employees who have to incorporate emotional labor into their work are more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and insomnia.

The sooner employers get on board with the notion of emotional labor as real work, the sooner they can start adequately compensating or rewarding workers for it, said professor Doug Pugh, chairman of the Department of Management at Virginia Commonwealth University.
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