What is Emotional Labor and Does It Matter?

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Emotional Labor

What is Emotional Labor and Does It Matter?

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Are you tired of doing things that you really don’t want to do? Have you been patient with your career goals and are now growing weary of putting in the time? You may still have some emotional labor to endure.

Enduring the Work

The boss asks you to follow up on the delinquent accounts, but you suggest you don’t have time.

A project team member asks how the work is coming with your assigned task after the meeting last week, but you say you didn’t get to it yet.

Unfortunately, it is common that people drag their feet about projects or work that they aren’t really interested in doing.

Ask the mechanic if he wants to do an oil change on the eight year old minivan.

Ask the mechanic if he wants to do an oil change on the hottest model with the big engine.

Do you think the mechanic would spring into action for both of those scenarios or just one?

Many employees feel like they are asked to pick up the pieces for work that is not that desirable. It is common for people to feel like their career has stalled, that they have put in the time, and now they want more.

Emotional Labor

Emotional labor is a condition that exists when we are putting in the time. It is doing the dirty work, the crappy jobs, and picking up the pieces for others. It may be doing things we find boring, monotonous, or below our pay grade.

Have you been putting in the required amounts of emotional labor?

If there is one thing that every employee can do to make a difference for their career it is putting in large quantities of emotional labor. Certainly, no one wants to be taken advantage of and no one wants to do work that they have advanced beyond.

However, the best employees are putting in a lot of it. It requires the persistence, discipline, and grit to get it done, and they do it.

The employee may easily forget about emotional labor, but the boss usually remembers it.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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