How Deep Acting and Emotional Labor Affect Your Workplace with Dr. Susan David
September 4, 2018 / Employee Engagement
Harvard Medical Psychologist and Virgin Pulse Science Advisory Board member Dr. Susan David is an expert on employee engagement, and what organizations need to do to help their employees bring the best of themselves to work. She studies organizations large and small, all over the world, conducting research to better understand how to satisfy human needs in today’s demanding workplace.
David’s recent topics of interest are the concepts of emotional labor and deep acting as they apply to an individual’s ability to be engaged within an organization.
For those of you who are not yet familiar, here’s a quick background to both concepts and why they have serious repercussions for engagement throughout your organization, and to your bottom line.
What is Emotional Labor?
When we go to work we not only extend our intellectual labor and our physical labor, but also our emotional labor. How do we extend ourselves emotionally? We do it more often than you might think. David cites a common instance – attending a meeting even when you’re very busy on more important projects and feeling frustrated because you know the meeting will be a waste or misuse of your time. Sound familiar?
When we work through frustrating, challenging, or interpersonally-demanding situations we are expending emotional labor. These types of situations are the opposite of what is called deep acting.
What is Deep Acting?
Deep acting is when the way that we are acting or behaving comes from a truly held sense of values or connection with our work.
For example, a front desk staff at a hotel may truly believe that the way her or she treats a guest affects that individual’s day and being able to affect them positively is core to that employee’s value system.
When someone is deep acting, they are less likely to burn out, they experience lower levels of stress and contribute to greater levels of positive and effective culture.
This is Why Real Engagement is a Win-Win
When someone is deep acting, they are truly engaged. They don’t need to be asked to go the extra mile, they just do – because they want to, and because they believe it’s the right thing to do. It matters to them to do a job well, to their core.
It’s not hard to see how this is great for organizations. Don’t we all wish for employees who go the extra mile? Employees who care about the quality of their work?
When your people are engaged and deep acting they are not only contributing positively to your culture, but they are expending less emotional energy and labor, and behaving in a way that is authentic to their core beliefs.
Real Engagement Doesn’t End at the Office
When an individual is engaged, connected, and present to their work these positive benefits flow over to their personal life and into life outside the office. People who are engaged at work report a higher quality of life in general, reports Dr. David.