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‘Service With a Smile’ May Lead Employees to Drink More: Research

Collection agencies ask their collectors to be happy and upbeat when on the phone, and many trainers tell collectors to smile even though they are on the phone because it’s possible to “hear” a smile and smiling can change the tone and pitch of an individual’s voice.

Being forced to smile and regularly fake or amplify emotions may also lead to more drinking, according to researchers from Penn State University and the University of Buffalo.

The conclusions suggest that “service with a smile” may not be the best for an employee’s overall well-being.

“Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively,” said Alicia Grandey, a psychology professor at Penn State. “It wasn’t just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”

Individuals who generally work with the public drink more than those who do not, according to the study, which came from phone interviews with nearly 1,600 individuals. Called “surface acting,” when employees fake or suppress emotions leads to more drinking especially with younger employees or individuals who are in entry-level jobs, according to the research.

“The relationship between surface acting and drinking after work was stronger for people who are impulsive or who lack personal control over behavior at work,” Grandey said. “If you’re impulsive or constantly told how to do your job, it may be harder to rein in your emotions all day, and when you get home, you don’t have that self-control to stop after one drink.”

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