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An emotionally demanding job. How does that affect you?

30 March 2021

A retail worker who has to remain friendly towards customers, a judge who has to remain neutral, or police officers who need to control their emotions in a threatening situation. Some jobs require not only professional knowledge, but also demand a lot on an emotional level. How does that actually affect employees’ own emotions? New research shows that these workers lose their happiness and satisfaction in the long run. Susan Reh, Cornelia Wieck and Susanne Scheibe recently published an article on this in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

We already know quite a bit about the short-term effects of emotionally demanding jobs. Earlier research showed that employees find it hard to have a job in which they have to show emotions that they do not feel sincerely. At the same time, employees might also learn how to manage their emotions better.

Reh, Wieck and Scheibe have now investigated the long-term effects by combining two datasets: well-being data from more than 2400 employees over a period of ten years and information on the emotional nature of jobs from a large database of occupations. In the long run, workers in emotionally demanding jobs do not experience more anger, anxiety or sadness, but their job satisfaction and happiness decreases.

In short, workers in jobs that put a lot of strain on them emotionally lose their enthusiasm for their work over time. According to the researchers, the challenge for managers and organizations is to ensure that precisely these employees remain satisfied and happy in their jobs.

Last modified:30 March 2021 1.49 p.m.
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